Thursday, November 06, 2008

What a dumbass

I just knew when I picked up the Independent this morning there would be some idioctic article by Johann Hari about what Obama must do and indeed there is. It contains a three-point plan of the "timebombs" he must deal with and how.
Time-bomb One: A collapsing economy. The US economy is freezing like it's 1929 – and you have to decide now which wing of the Democratic Party can put it right. To your right, the Robert Rubin wing will tell you to concentrate on cutting the deficit, bailing out only the biggest, and batten down for the storm. They have the backing of the super-rich and their institutions.

To your left, the populist wing will tell you to spend big – on healthcare, renewables and infrastructure – in order to revive the economy. They want a new New Deal – and they have the backing of most ordinary Americans. In the first year of the Clinton administration, the wrong side won, and Rubin was unleashed to deregulate the banks. You need to make a better choice. Make yourself Franklin Roosevelt Mark II. Which leads us to...
So he wants to spend spend spend in a nation where the national debt already stands in excess of 65% of GDP. How marvellliusly intelligent. Just print money, it will be fine. Borrow even more at a time when the economy is going down the pan? Just what America needs right now is a massive spending increase of money they don't actually have and where the economy has been basically propped up by outside interests buying stakes in it. What a dumbass.

Time-bomb Two: A collapsing climate. You have become President at a crucial moment in the planet's history. We are close to the climatic Point of No Return: a two-degree rise in temperatures, which will trigger an unravelling of all natural processes. The last two Presidents killed Kyoto. You can save its successor, which has to be negotiated before 2012. But that means you need now to bring the US – the worst per capita emitter by far – into line. The economic crisis gives you the perfect opportunity. Stimulate the economy by launching the transfer to a low-carbon economy: paint your New Deal green. Big Oil will fight back hard and dirty – but every human being needs you to fight back.
Translation, tax every one really heavily for driving their cars and lorries and burning oil. How clever! In a nation that is geographically huge with an economy reliant on the ability to be mobile and travel, be it driving the car to local mall or transporting food and goods across the country - those things that need to be bought and sold to create economic stimulus - and what does Hari suggest? That's right, making it even harder and more costly to do. What a dumbass.

I will however give him his due on the third timebomb of Afghanistan. His solution is not to destroy the poppycrop but to buy it and make cheap painkillers. However, negotiating with the wing of the Taliban that are not global jihadists (allegedly) is pretty absurd because knowing really whether tyhey are or are not is dangerously naive. So only part dumbass this time.

8 comments:

Alex said...

That 65% figure is just for Federal debts. It doesn't inlcude the borrowings of individual states, cities or non-federal authorities (the municipal bond market).

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

I'm sure Barack Obama avidly follows every one of Johann Hari's articles.

Can't imagine he's got anything better to do...

Dave said...

Don't they realise that the US and UK are fucked?
We no longer have the factories, the machines, the skills or the will to manufacture anything. When the factories close the machines are either scrapped or sold to the far east- to our competitors. All those company bosses who closed their manufacturing base and became customers of the Chinese should be tried for treason.
We're fucked and there's no way back.

Henry Crun said...

Dizzy, far be it for me to criticise your use of language, but must you resort to Americanisms?

"Dumbass" indeed.

Arsehole is a much more expressive and descriptive expletive.

Anonymous said...

Re the Opium crop, Christopher Hitchens suggested much the same on October 6th (see Slate). Another example of JH's lack of originality and using someone elses suggestions.....

The man is totally useless as a writer IMHO...

Josephine

Mr B said...

Dear Dizzy,

Have you heard of an economist called Keynes? Often described as the founder of macroeconomics. No "dumbass", anyway. Borrowing and spending when an economy is in recession ... is just what Keynes advocated.

Cutting back when times are hard is what works best for a single household. But it's NOT what works best for a whole economy.

Hari is not being a dumbass on this. (Even if he's wrong about everything else).

dizzy said...

AH yes, and Keynesian economics did not in anyway result in gradual economic decline at all now did it.

Mr B said...

Dizzy: AH yes, and Keynesian economics did not in anyway result in gradual economic decline at all now did it.

I'm not sure what gradual decline you are referring to, and I can't imagine how you pin the blame for it on Keynesian economics.

But my real point was this. If you dismiss a respectable view of macroeconomics as "dumbass", you risk undermining all your other points.

Look it another way. I presume you would rather cut government spending once a recession starts? And what will that do to the recession? It would be very easy label your view as "dumbass". But that would be a mistake, overlooking the complexity of the issues. So too with Hari, surely.