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Archive for July 12th, 2010

I’m used to being attacked, but usually by statists. In a man-bites-dog development, here’s a 12-1/2-minute video dedicated to the proposition that I was hopelessly squishy in my Rahn Curve video.

What makes this situation rather ironic is that I agree with the guy tearing me a new you-know-what.

But this is also my defense. At the risk of oversimplifying, his critiques fall into two categories.

One category could be called sins of omission. To cite an example, he correctly points out that the growth-maximizing level of government may or may not be accurate, depending on how the money is being spent. For instance, if government only consumes 5 percent of GDP, but spends that money on law enforcement, that might be good (the video also notes, quite accurately, that law enforcement can be bad if the police are enforcing oppressive policies). If that modest level of government is devoted to welfare, by contrast, that would be bad. At the risk of stating the obvious (or at least what I hope everybody who reads this blog has already figured out), I obviously agree. But when I put together these videos, all sorts of simplifying assumptions must be made to keep them to a reasonable length. In many instances, the final video only includes about one-half of what was in the original script. So I plead guilty of not fully elaborating, but I limit details because I think too much information would undermine my goal of reaching people who are not already true believers.

The other category could be called bad assumptions, and here’s where I would argue that my critic is being a bit unfair. My main example is that he implies that I support a government that consumes 20 percent of GDP. Yet I think a careful viewer would agree that all I’m saying is that the existing academic research identifies this level of government spending as being consistent with maximum growth. But the last part of the video is my (hopefully compelling) argument that the actual growth-maximizing level of government spending is much lower than 20 percent of economic output.

That being said, it is always a good idea to be suspicious about anybody from Washington. I haven’t sold out yet, but that certainly happens quite often in Washington. So I welcome readers to pick through my blog posts with a fine-toothed comb.

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I like poking fun at French politicians for being hopeless statists, and I always assumed that French voters shared their collectivist sympathies. But according to new polling data reported by the Financial Times, there may be a Tea Party revolt brewing in France. Among major European nations, the French are most in favor of smaller government. Sacre Bleu!
European governments have solid public support, at least for now, for the spending cuts they are making in an effort to boost economic recovery, according to the latest Financial Times/Harris opinion poll. …The poll’s results point to a fiscal conservatism among the European public that contrasts with the eagerness with which most governments ran up high deficits to protect jobs and living standards as the crisis unfolded. …Asked if public spending cuts were necessary to help long-term economic recovery, 84 per cent of French people, 71 per cent of Spaniards, 69 per cent of Britons, 67 per cent of Germans and 61 per cent of Italians answered Yes. …Asked if they preferred public spending cuts or tax rises as a way to reduce budget deficits and national debts, strong majorities in the five EU countries as well as the US were in favour of spending cuts. Similarly conservative views on public expenditure emerged when people were asked if EU governments were right to engage in large-scale deficit-spending after the 2008 crisis. In all five EU countries, a majority – ranging from 68 per cent in France and Italy to 54 per cent in the UK – said the governments were wrong to have done so.

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Eline van den Broek probably is not happy today since she was in South Africa watching her team lose a high-scoring battle with Spain, but she should be very proud of the new video she narrated that urges the repeal of Obamacare – and also points out some of the other reforms that are needed to restore markets to the US healthcare system.

Her comments on how the American healthcare system was a mess even before Obamacare are particularly important.

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