Obama’s budget, Citigroup rescue, Twitter, climate change, lobbying.
The Era of Even Bigger Government: There is very little to be happy about in Obama’s first budget (Veronique de Rugy at Reason) Does the Obama budget work? According to this author, some of the accounting tricks used in the past are gone, but dissembling remains: “To cut the size of the federal government, one actually has to, you know, cut programs. While Obama’s overall numbers do show a spending decrease between 2009 and 2010, he actually increases many categories of spending, which remains far above 2008 levels in any case. In fact, his ‘cuts’ are basically the results of 2009 bailout payments not being extended into 2010. The bottom line is that there is very little to be happy about in Obama’s first budget. It simply expands the Bush policies of bigger government and increased centralization, which threatens to permanently transform America’s culture and economic outlook by making more and more Americans dependent on government.”
Latest Citigroup Rescue May Not Be Its Last (New York Times) “The big question, of course, is this: Will this plan, the third since October, be the one that finally works? Will it shore up this $2 trillion behemoth? Or is the outcome that the banks and the government are so desperately trying to avoid — nationalization, under whatever guise — only a matter of time? Wall Street’s judgment was swift and brutal. Citigroup’s share price, which a little over two years ago was flying high at $55, plunged 96 cents to a mere $1.50.”
What Are You Doing? Media Twitterers Can’t Stop Typing (New York Times) A look at the popular service Twitter and how some news media personalities use it.
The Doomsday Bias. American Spectator article describing testimony of Dr. John P. Holdren, nominated for chief White House Science Advisor. “Holdren’s particular brand of science is infected by what we can only call a doomsday bias.”
Liberal Groups Are Flexing New Muscle in Lobby Wars (New York Times) Just a short few years ago, Democrats were railing against the lobbying efforts of Republicans. But now: “When Newt Gingrich’s Congress was moving full-speed in its efforts to shrink the government more than a dozen years ago, Ralph G. Neas, an indefatigable champion of liberal causes, threw up his hands and declared that his side had been outmaneuvered. … Recent days have found Mr. Neas in a new perch … this time, he is supported by his own phalanx of big business backers, including the Exelon power company and Giant food stores.” It’s a mistake to assume that business is against bigger government and in favor of free markets. As Milton Friedman said: “Naturally, existing businesses generally prefer to keep out competitors in other ways. That is why the business community, despite its rhetoric, has so often been a major enemy of truly free enterprise.”
What is Seen and What is Unseen: Government “Job Creation” (Foundation for Economic Education). A nice explanation of unseen consequences of government action and how this concept applied during the New Deal. “Barack Obama and his advisers should take a lesson from history: the New Deal and its public-works projects were a disaster, and it would be remiss to think they should be given another try. As Bastiat explained, government doesn’t create wealth; it only diverts it. When wealth is in the hands of the government it inevitably tends to serve political ends rather than consumers. FDR’s New Deal policies are a testament to that, and if they are repeated in response to our current economic crisis, it will only hinder the recovery.”