Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Conservative Pseudo-Scientific Economic B.S. is Exposed

I thought it was simply a stunning revelation last week that a mere graduate student, 28-year-old University of Massachusetts student Thomas Herndon,  could so easily un-cover the economteric failures of  blue-chip Ivy League and former IMF economists, which underpin the Paul Ryan budget and so many other Republican and Conservative debt-o-phobic and recession-exacerbating policies:  See "How a Student Took on Eminent Economists on the Debt Issue--And Won" (Reuters) It turns out that economic growth does not slow dramatically after debt-to GDP ratios rise above 90%, after all. 

Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has been arguing all along that debt fears are exaggerated (at least in the U.S., where the luxury of being able to borrow in one's own currency makes low interest rates even lower), appears to have been powerfully vindicated by the discovery of this "statistical error"(!)  His April 21, 2013 piece, "The Jobless Trap" picks up on the latest news to drive home the political and ideological causes of the sluggish, jobless recovery:

"And let’s be clear: this is a policy decision. The main reason our economic recovery has been so weak is that, spooked by fear-mongering over debt, we’ve been doing exactly what basic macroeconomics says you shouldn’t do — cutting government spending in the face of a depressed economy. 
It’s hard to overstate how self-destructive this policy is. Indeed, the shadow of long-term unemployment means that austerity policies are counterproductive even in purely fiscal terms. Workers, after all, are taxpayers too; if our debt obsession exiles millions of Americans from productive employment, it will cut into future revenues and raise future deficits. 
Our exaggerated fear of debt is, in short, creating a slow-motion catastrophe. It’s ruining many lives, and at the same time making us poorer and weaker in every way. And the longer we persist in this folly, the greater the damage will be."

Similar simple-minded obsessions with debt have threatened to undermine common sense in Canada, at both federal and provincial levels.  Let's make sure that they don't get away with it.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Last thoughts on Ralph Klein

I thought the prime minister gave an excellent speech in memoriam for Ralph.  http://o.canada.com/2013/04/05/prime-minister-stephen-harpers-remarks-at-ralph-klein-memorial/ .  BUT I am still right to ask: Did  Martha and Henry completely pay off their mortgage before buying school supplies, music lessons and sports equipment for their kids?  Completely eliminating the debt was an ideological self-indulgence paid for with revenue from non-renewable resources. All  it did was create an infrastructure deficit in place of the fiscal one, increasing our unhealthy dependence upon resource revenue in the process.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Oh, the Irony

As recently as 2009 B.C. Liberals were voting 80% against electoral reform , because they had become convinced that the system worked well for them: http://thetyee.ca/Views/2009/07/08/WhoKilledSTV/ It  is difficult to argue with a statistic as stark as this: Over 60% of Green and NDP voters supporting STV in both elections, while only 20% of Liberals supporting it in 2009 (down 30% from 2005!).

Well, the electoral system did work well for the Liberals--as long as it was exaggerating their popularity,  instead of their unpopularity. It will be interesting to see how attitudes change after May 14.