Get the Government Out of My Government!

When you own a hotel and bar Black people what happens is that if Black people comes in and sleep in the beds you call the police–functionaries of the state–and they then take the Black people away and charge them with trespass. When you own a bus and require Black people to sit in the back and Black people sits in the front you call the police–functionaries of the state–and they then take the Black people away and charge them with trespass. When you own a lunch counter and make it whites-only if Black people sit down at the lunch counter you call the police–functionaries of the state–and they then take the Black people away and charge them with trespass.

Ron Paul’s belief is that the state should assist in amplifying social and political crises and injustices whenever the propertied wish to provoke them.

Private fee-simple property is, after all, an institution established and enforced by the government. You can hardly get the government out of what is, fundamentally, the government’s core business.

From Brad DeLong’s Grasping Reality with Both Hands

And this is one of the ways where libertarians lose me.

Ronald Reagan on Union Membership as One of the Most Elemental Human Rights

Reagan was the only president in American history to have belonged to a union, the AFL-CIO affiliated Screen Actors Guild. And he even served six terms as president of the organized labor group. Additionally, Reagan was a staunch advocate for the collective bargaining rights of one of the world’s most famous and most influential trade unions, Poland’s Solidarity movement…. December 23, 1981….

REAGAN: The Polish government has trampled underfoot to the UN Charter and Helsinki accords. It has even broken the Gdańsk Agreement of 1980 by which the Polish government recognized the basic right of free trade unions and to strike…

From Ronald Reagan on Union Membership as One of the Most Elemental Human Rights

And yet he is more famous for his anti-union stance.

The Great British Austerity Experiment

The takeaway lesson should be “austerity does not work; don’t go there.” Unfortunately, in the land of faith-based economics, evidence does not count for much. The UK may pursue a disastrous austerity path and those of us in the United States may still have to follow the same road anyhow. But we opponents of that course all appreciate the willingness of the UK to demonstrate the foolishness of this action.

Dean Baker by way of Brad DeLong. The Great British Austerity Experiment

The thing that keeps coming to mind is that the people calling for reduced spending in a host of programs would likely be calling for those same cuts no mater what the economy looked like. So why is anyone listening to them?

Thomas Jefferson and Government Run Health Care

Greg Sargent, today reports that it wasn’t only John Adams who supported the notion of government run health care. According to Georgetown University history professor and noted historian of America’s early days, Adam Rothman, Thomas Jefferson –the iconic hero of the Tea Party – also supported the legislation. Sargent reprints the following email he received from Prof. Rothan on the subject –

Alexander Hamilton supported the establishment of Marine Hospitals in a 1792 Report, and it was a Federalist congress that passed the law in 1798. But Jefferson (Hamilton’s strict constructionist nemesis) also supported federal marine hospitals, and along with his own Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin, took steps to improve them during his presidency. So I guess you could say it had bipartisan support.

Ezra Klein adds to the debate pointing out that:

…it was a payroll tax that all sailors on private merchant ships had to pay, and in return, they were basically given access to a small public health-care system. But it was, in essence, a regulation against a form of inactivity: You were not allowed to not do something, in this case, pay for sailor’s health insurance.

From Thomas Jefferson Believed the Federal Government Could Regulate “Inactivity” – Grasping Reality with Eight Tentacles

I don’t think this proves Jefferson would have approved of Obamacare. It does prove the futility tinged with intellectuality dishonesty that the Tea Party folks demonstrate when they claim to speak for the founders. From beyond the grave no less.

Brad DeLong: Robert Reich Writes About the Debt Scare

Back in 1992 the real interest rate on a ten-year U.S. Treasury bond was 5% per year. Right now the real interest rate on a ten-year U.S. Treasury bond is more or less zero. Borrow back in 1992 thinking that the government is going to repay its borrowings ten years down the road and ten years down the road you find yourself paying back $1.65 in real purchasing power for each dollar you borrowed in 1992. Today you find yourself paying back just $1 in real purchasing power ten years from now for each dollar you borrow today. As Commander Whorf would say if he were an economist rather than a Klingon professional practitioner of coercive violence: “Today is a good day to borrow,” for the government at least.

Robert Reich Writes About the Debt Scare

Brad DeLong summarizes Robert Reich. Today’s must read economic blog post.

Scare of the day


Paul Krugman said it best when it said this isn’t your father’s recession. This is your grandfather’s recession. This looks really bad.