September 7, 2011

ONE REASON WHY THOSE KEYNESIAN STIMULI AREN’T WORKING: They’re Not Keynesian. “Whalen isn’t simply dumping on Keynesianism, he’s bent on pointing out that even its latter-day adherents are straying far from their master’s theory. And in this, he’s surely correct. As Allen Meltzer has argued, Keynes was against the very sort of large structural deficits that characterize contemporary federal budgets and policy, believing instead that deficits should be ‘temporary and self-liquidating.’ And Keynes believed that any sort of counter-cyclical spending by government should be directed toward increasing private investment, not simply spending current and future tax dollars on public works projects. Or, to put it another way: If the federal government had a strong track record of responsible spending, it would mean one thing if it went into hock for a short period of time to goose the economy (again, whether this would work is open to question). It means something totally different when a government that spent all of the 21st century piling on debt and new, long-term entitlement programs responds to an economic downturn first by creating yet another gargantuan entitlement (Obamacare) and taking on even more debt in the here-and-now.”

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