Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Borrowing from the future, today

Generally, I try to understand the other side. Especially when it comes to economics because that's a topic which ought to be non-partisan. The goal is to generate wealth. What we do with that wealth is another question. Yet, despite everyone sharing the same goal, there is a ton of disagreement over how to get there.

Over and over again liberals (and some conservatives) extol the virtues of deficit spending. They say there is slack in the economy due to lack of demand and that government must pick up the slack. Below is what Alan Blinder of Princeton University had to say in the Wall Street Journal:
...But even if you dislike some particular piece of government spending, how exactly does it kill jobs? (The taxes raised to pay the bills may kill jobs, but we are talking about deficit spending here.) If the government either hires people itself or purchases things from private companies, doesn't that create jobs?

...My point is simply that, when there is so much unused capacity and so many unemployed people hungry for work, "job-killing government spending" is oxymoronic. Virtually any type of spending, public or private, will create jobs.
Princetonians deserve better. First, there is no such thing as spending. Only trading between people. Let's think about it.

When I spend money, what I am really doing is trading either something I made, or a service I provide to another person for something they made or a service they provide. Money represents what you have made or done for someone else. It's a store of value to be used in the future. Money is not simply a piece of paper.

Second, there is no such a thing as deficit spending. If we calling spending what it is, trading, it would be obvious that deficit trading is nonsensical; you can only trade what you have. The fiction being perpetuated is that by government printing money you can have deficit spending. Well, no. What happens when the government prints money is that the value of all money goes down. In essence, all current holders of money have been taxed by the government and according to Mr. Blinder, that does kill jobs. Regardless of your political persuasion, government spending is always a tax on the economy.

The reality is that government spending doesn't create anything, by definition it cannot. It can only direct the spending of it's citizens. It can trade what people have already created, We can debate when and how government should do this. But make no mistake, government never creates anything. The worst part about this scheme, is that in a stealth attempt to redistribute wealth, it hurts those most with the least wealth. Ask yourself this, who out there have the most resources to guard against government devaluing the currency? You guessed it, the rich.


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