Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.
Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.
In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.
At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.
Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.
John Stuart Mill
Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.
The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.
The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.
Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.
A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Don't let schooling interfere with your education.
All generalizations are false, including this one.
A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
The Public is merely a multiplied "me."
Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.
Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.
Otto Von Bismarck
When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.
I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.
Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.
Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.
A witty saying proves nothing.
If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.
When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.
To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.
Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.
All I know is I'm not a Marxist.
The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
The Deficit and the Coming Age War
The typical criticism of deficit spending is as follows: Deficits let current generations off the hook for paying the bills. Thus, consumption rises while rate of savings and investment declines. This leads to there being less capital per worker, and therefore lower growth in productivity. Since capital is scarce, the rate of return rises, which leads to a rise in interest rates. These high interest rates attract foreign investors which, by definition, cause our trade deficit to widen.
However, there has been almost no correlation between the budget deficit and the interest rate, productivity growth rate, or the savings and investment rate. Some economists, such as Robert Barro of Harvard (and Galt) see this as absolute proof that deficits don't matter. To them, the typical criticism of deficits is nothing more than a scary story to tell in the dark.
If only it were just a "story". Like economists Robert Eisner and Michael Boskin (chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers under George H. W. Bush), I believe that correlation between the deficit and other economic variables is so low because the deficit has been defined incorrectly. The official debt is only a measure of our government's liabilities; it completely ignores our assets. In layman's terms, its akin to calling the owner of a $1 million property a debtor, by mere account of his large mortgage.
There are fierce arguments amongst academia and government officials on how to measure our debt. Those are beyond the scope of this post, but we can conclude:
The deficit is not a well-defined economic concept
The real problems with deficit spending are not measured by our current federal deficit figure. Most notably, we should be worrying about transfers of wealth between generations (or maybe just me, since I'm 22 I have a self interest in not paying y'alls bills). This point is best illustrated in Franco Modigliani's life-cycle model, which won him a Nobel prize in 1985. According to his model, a policy which redistributes wealth from young to the old will cause an increase in national consumption and a decline in national savings. This is because older people have larger propensities to consume than younger people. Since they are closer to the end of their lives, they have a tendency to spend their remaining resources more quickly. The bumper sticker in Florida which reads "I'm spending my kids inheritance" sums it up best.
In short, transferring wealth from younger to older generations causes a rise consumption, trade-deficits, and interest rates, while lowering savings and investments. In other words, everything bad that is associated with deficit spending. Our current measure of the deficit does not take generational transfers into account.
Neoclassical economics offers an alternative to our shaky deficit measure: generational accounts. Generational accounts measure what a member of a generation will pay the government minus benefits from the government. The burden on future generations is measured using the "intertemporal budget constraint." The constraint states that government spending on cannot exceed the sum of three items:
1. The government's net wealth.
2. The present value of net payments to the government by current generations.
3. The present value of net payments by future generations.
An analysis of our current spending using generational models indicates that the U.S. economic policy is extremely out of balance. (y'all are going to love this) Its not difficult to find the perpetrators, they are the pay-as-you-go programs: Social Security, civil service, and military retirement programs. These programs are not measured by our deficit, because again they are "pay as you go".
Within the next few years, 77 million baby boomers are going to start collecting Social Security. By the year 2030, the United States will have doubled the number of elderly, but there will only be 18 percent more workers to pay for their benefits. Do the math. The budget shortfall amounts to roughly $45 trillion. That figure is twelve times larger than the official debt.
Will it be possible to pay for social security? If we started today, paying the bill would require one of four options from "the menu of pain":
1. A raise in income taxes (individual and corporate) by 69 percent.
2. A raise in payroll taxes by 95 percent.
3. We could cut Social Security and Medicare benefits by 56 percent.
4. We could cut federal discretionary spending by more than 100 percent.
The Bush Administration's approach to this impending disaster was what Bush Sr. called "voodoo economics". With an impending fiscal crisis on the horizon, they passed not one, but three tax cuts; if a boat is sinking, why not punch a bigger whole in it and get it over with? In the real world, taxes raise consumption, lower savings. etc. Some might argue that some of the cuts, like dividend taxes, will give people an incentive to save. However, in the real world economics, that's neither how people behave, nor are predicted to behave. One gets a clearer picture why Bush is often seen as fiscally insane.
Our government will be unable to pay entitlements without taxing my generation to death. At the same time, there will be powerful coalitions who wish to defend their entitlements. Simply pretending that this crisis will work itself out will not make it go away. The fact is that most people receiving social security checks during retirement are not exactly going to complain. Even y'all libertarians may disapprove of social security in principle, but I also know that you wouldn't mind the government giving you back your money. Unfortunately, it will be my money which the government gives you. And there is probably going to be a rather pronounced political war between generations in the coming years. So excuse me when I disagree about deficits not mattering. I'll be paying your entitlements.
"Netpolitik is a new style of diplomacy that seeks to exploit the powerful capabilities of the Internet to shape politics, culture, values, and personal identity. But unlike Realpolitik — which seeks to advance a nation’s political interests through amoral coercion — Netpolitik traffics in “softer” issues such as moral legitimacy, culturalidentity, societal values, and public perception." - The Rise of Netpolitik
PUN-DIT (n) : A learned man; a teacher; a source of opinion; a critic: a political pundit.