[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
Try this sometime. Go to your local bank. Tell them that you need a loan. They will ask why, in one way or another. When they ask why, explain to them that you already have a massive loan to someone else that you will not be able to repay unless you get this loan from them. When they ask how you got that loan in the first place, then explain to them that this loan was taken out because otherwise you couldn’t have paid a previous loan.
And when they ask how you plan to pay off this loan, explain to them that surely someone else will loan you that money.
Then, let me know in the comments when they stop laughing at you.
But what is reductio ad absurdum (reduction to absurdity) in the real world, is considered responsible policy for chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. On ABC’s This Week, he explained that we have to raise the debt ceiling and allow us to go into more debt, or else we will default on other debts.
Top White House economic advisor Austan Goolsbee warned Sunday that a congressional failure to rise the nation’s debt limit early this year would be “catastrophic.”
“It pains me that we would even be talking about this,” Goolsbee told ABC’s “This Week.”
“This is not a game. You know, the debt ceiling is not something to toy with. … If we hit the debt ceiling, that’s essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history. The impact on the economy would be catastrophic. I mean, that would be a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.”
The current debt limit is $14.3 trillion, which Washington is expected to hit in February. A failure to raise the ceiling would prevent Congress from borrowing funds to pay the country’s obligations. Some conservatives — notably many in the incoming class of Tea Party-backed Republicans — are threatening to vote against raising the cap, arguing that the U.S. simply can’t afford to rely so heavily on borrowing.
So the only way to meet our obligations and thus to make timely payments on our national debt… is to go further into debt? Does Goolsbee have a plan for finally, actually, paying off this debt out of our own funds?
It’s coming up in February and no, you can’t turn the ship of state around on a dime. So I say give them enough for three months of reprieve. And then the day of reckoning.
Either we will finally as a nation figure out how to live within our means. Or we will eventually default. And if a default is in our future, its better to come now than later when it would be even worse.
Anyway you can watch Goolsbee and Congressman Weiner acting like, well, wieners, here:
You can read more at The Blaze.
Also in other news, George Will apparently doesn’t understand that private industry is the primary mover in useful science. He starts off his column yesterday with this:
New Republican legislators should come down Capitol Hill to the National Museum of American History, which displays a device that in 1849 was granted U.S. patent 6469. It enabled a boat’s “draught of water to be readily lessened” so it could “pass over bars, or through shallow water.”
The patentee was from Sangamon County, Ill. Across Constitution Avenue, over the Commerce Department’s north entrance, are some words of the patentee, Abraham Lincoln:
THE PATENT SYSTEM ADDED
THE FUEL OF INTEREST
TO THE FIRE OF GENIUS
Stoking that fire is, more than ever, a proper federal function, so the legislators should be given some reading matter.
From there he goes on to argue that this means the Federal Government should directly fund science. But a patent is not a government subsidy in any traditional meaning of the word. Instead it is a property right, created in one’s ideas, granted in order to encourage a person to come up with valuable ideas. Thus if you come up with the next great innovation and sell it to the people, you will be a rich man—which is why both individuals and corporations are constantly engaged in useful research.
And the thing is that it forces would-be inventers to do a cost-benefit analysis. They have to ask themselves: “would this be useful to people? Can I convince them to buy what I make?”
By comparison government scientist can be entirely theoretical with little hope of practical application, because the goal isn’t to sell anything to the public, but to the people giving the grant. And in fact by paying scientists to do useless, theoretical science, we actually drain brainpower away from useful applications and thus harm economic growth.
Now to a certain extent this is still a justified expense. For instance, although many innovations arose out of our trip to the moon the fact is that the whole concept was monumentally unprofitable. Even when talking about private space travel, generally the context is in some kind of X prize, where it is made artificially profitable. But I think we can all agree that it is good that we went to the moon, right?
But let’s not pretend, as Will does, that the reason for the government to fund science is because of its great efficiency. Patents do that. Subsidies, if anything, harm the advancement of profitable science. Subsidized science serves other purposes.
Updates: Two interesting and timely stories. First, apparently us gamers are the vanguard of science these days, pushing technology forward. You’re welcome.
Second, the WaPo fears that reduced spending will harm the D.C. economy. Um, as a D.C. resident, we will survive.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]