27 Aug 2009

People Hate Fed More than IRS!

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Jeff Tucker passes along this story:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Americans think the Federal Reserve is doing a worse job than even the much-maligned Internal Revenue Service.

Only 30 percent of Americans think the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors is doing a good job despite the central bank’s unprecedented efforts to battle a crippling recession, according to a Gallup Poll released on Monday.

That makes the Fed the worst reviewed of nine key agencies — including the tax-collecting IRS — the Gallup poll of more than 1,000 Americans between July 10 and 12 showed. Twenty-two percent of Americans said the central bank was doing a poor job.

Wow, that’s pretty impressive if you poll worse than the IRS. And what’s funny is that the public is right: After all, it takes some effort for the IRS to steal your money. First of all they have to find out that you have it, and then they have to send you letters, make scary phone calls, freeze your bank account, contact your employer about garnishing wages, and finally they have to tap some scarce labor power by sending armed guys to your house.

In contrast, if Bernanke wants to steal half your wealth, all he has to do is press a few buttons.

27 Aug 2009

Choose Your Own Blog Post

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From CNBC:

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is one of hundreds of victims of an identity-fraud ring, according to Newsweek magazine.

The ring is run by a scam artist known as “Big Head,” the magazine said on its website. The ring has been known for stealing more than $2.1 million from consumers and at least 10 financial companies around the U.S.

If you write a post saying “Big Head” is really running monetary policy, turn to page 48.

If you write a post arguing that Bernanke is the “Big Head” of the whole financial system, turn to page 87.

If you write a post wishing that Bernanke had only stolen $2.1 million from consumers, turn to page 95.

26 Aug 2009

Krugman’s Phony Congratulations to Bernanke

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I have an unhealthy obsession with Paul Krugman’s blog, and something I’ve noticed is that when he gives somebody a compliment, sometimes you can tell it’s completely phony and political. For example, here’s his tribute to Big Ben:

Generally, I’m pleased. Bernanke has done a good job in the crisis — he’s been far more aggressive and creative than almost anyone else would have been in his place, partly because he’s a scholar of the Great Depression, partly because he took Japan’s lost decade seriously and was therefore intellectually prepared for a liquidity-trap world.

I do have one qualm, though, which isn’t really about Bernanke, but rather about the broader symbolism of the reappointment…

…[Y]ou’re not considered serious about economic policy unless you dismissed warnings about a housing bubble and waved off worries about future crises.

That said, Ben Bernanke’s performance over the past year deserves praise, and there’s nobody I’d rather have in his position. Congratulations, Ben.

And in case it’s not obvious, that link is to a very embarrassing 2005 Washington Post story reporting that Bernanke didn’t think there was a housing bubble.

And as far Krugman’s closing lines, c’mon, he obviously doesn’t mean that. There’s nobody on the entire planet that Krugman would rather have as Fed chair than Bernanke? Give me a break, everybody knows Krugman is insincere.

I googled “Bernanke” appearances in Krugman’s blog to see how he’s been in the past. And you see the same pattern. E.g. in this post, Krugman opens up by thanking his lucky stars that Bernanke is at the helm, but by the end of the post you realize Krugman is saying Bernanke doesn’t realize his own impotence.

In this post, Krugman says deteriorating credit markets have undone everything Bernanke tried to do. True, he didn’t rip Bernanke per se, but it’s hardly a compliment to the guy.

In this post he refers to the wussy testimony of Bernanke, showing that he and Paulson don’t have the guts to nationalize the banks and thus spare us a repeat of Japan’s lost decade. The title of the post? “All the President’s Zombies.” Again, not exactly flattering.

In this post, “A $700 Billion Slap in the Face,” Krugman says that Paulson and Bernanke are grasping at straws trying to justify their approach to the financial crisis. Again, not a single word of praise in here for Bernanke, except that Krugman credits him with at least coming with a theory (that Krugman then tells us is stupid) for the TARP.

At long last–near the bottom of my hits for the advanced Google search–I think I found a blog post from January 2008 where Krugman might actually be praising Bernanke. But go ahead and read it. You have to infer the praise; I had to click on Krugman’s link to a news article to get the full context, in order to even offer my opinion that I think Krugman is actually complimenting Bernanke in this one (before going on to rip Bush and Paulson). Again, hardly flattering.

In this post, Krugman praises Bernanke for dropping his prepared remarks and letting the cat partially out of the bag concerning the “fundamentally disingenuous” line that he and Paulson had been pushing at the time. Again, to say someone slipped up a bit and admitted he had been trying to rob taxpayers, is not exactly congratulatory.

Well I reached the end of the first page of my Google search results. I’m sure we all see now why Krugman said that there is no one he would rather have at the Fed than Ben Bernanke. My gosh, it’s bad enough when Krugman plays loose with the facts when ripping his enemies–but he can’t even congratulate someone with sincerity?

If you want another example of a non-flattering “compliment,” check out his post on Larry Summers. If I were Summers, I would have gone through the roof when reading that. Krugman did the equivalent of saying, “Now I want to draw everyone’s attention to this claim I got emailed to me from a self-identified prostitute, saying that Larry Summers visits her weekly and has a microscopic wee wee. And folks, let me tell you, that is just crazy. We played racquetball once, and showered afterward, and I didn’t need a microscope. If you want to say it was tiny, I’m prepared to talk. But microscopic? No ma’am, you are mistaken.”

Does anybody trust Krugman?

26 Aug 2009

Potpourri

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* Another Murphy joint op ed with Jason Clemens of PRI, on the state of California’s economy. (Warning: You will see a lot of teeth if you click the link.)

* David Hanson tells WorldNetDaily readers about the biggest threat to liberty, and it’s not socialized health care. (Hint: It’s a three-letter word that’s not good for much.)

* David Kramer links to this story that illustrates my view of government perfectly: Government is an institution that gets to do things that would be criminal if anybody else did them. In this case, UK police take things out of unlocked cars. Yeah sure, they give the stuff back when you claim it, but still, that is stealing. If you don’t think so, try implementing this program of “awareness raising” yourself, in your own neighborhood, and see what happens to you.

* David R. Henderson emailed me his own review [.pdf] of Jeff Madrick’s case for big government.

* You know what ThinkMarkets is missing? Some Bohm-Bawerkian price theory. Oh wait, no it isn’t.

26 Aug 2009

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

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In response to a Wonk Room hit piece on young people trying to make a change in the world for the better–and if that’s not a hit piece, I’m not sure what would be worthy of such a description–I was first going to use my rapier-like wit to issue a stinging rebuke. But then I counted to 500 and decided to go Rodney King on everybody. (Meaning “can’t we all get along,” not “I bet you pigs can’t catch me.”) Here are the last three paragraphs from my Kumbaya blog post:

Now that I’m preaching, let me generalize it a bit: Earlier I mocked Paul Krugman for actually claiming that senior citizens were rioting. But since then, I’ve come to realize that Krugman really doesn’t understand the people at these Town Hall meetings, or the tea parties. After all, Krugman doesn’t get goosebumps thinking about property rights or checks on government power. So when he sees a bunch of angry people mouthing such concerns, he is suspicious and thinks they’re either a bunch of racists or paid stooges of the health insurers.

So, by symmetry, I think people on “our side” should realize that the great masses of Americans who are for health care reform and climate legislation (and it pains me to not put scare quotes around those phrases) aren’t actually closet socialists who want to bring America to its knees. Don’t get me wrong, it is still perfectly consistent to think the elites in Washington are power-hungry liars. I’m just saying that, as ridiculous as Krugman’s paranoia over old people is, that’s how ridiculous some of our side’s rants against Obama fans must seem to people who know that they are really just trying to stem abuses they perceive in the health care system and so forth. They know they’re not socialists, just like we know “our guys” aren’t Nazis.

Ah, and the ultimate irony is that actual socialists (and the particular offshoot of Nazism) were real, and actually did seize control of governments and kill millions of people. Isn’t life funny.

The author of the original hit piece, Brad Johnson, cross-posted it at Grist, and then added an update in light of my own post. He drew an excerpt from what I’ve reproduced above. Here is how Brad presented the new development to Grist’s readers:

UPDATE: At Free Advice, Institute for Energy Research economist Bob Murphy writes that Paul Krugman doesn’t understand tea party protesters because he doesn’t care about checks on government power like they do, and continues:

So, by symmetry, I think people on “our side” should realize that the great masses of Americans who are for health care reform and climate legislation (and it pains me to not put scare quotes around those phrases) aren’t actually closet socialists who want to bring America to its knees.

Hmm, I’m not so sure that’s fully in context. (That’s what I told the IER CEO when his Google Alerts on “AEA” tipped him off and he emailed me saying, “Grist is linking to Free Advice.”)

I’m curious to see how many hits that Grist link draws in, though. If it’s pretty big, maybe I will go the Bruce Bartlett route. I see the light! Sure we can trust the DC politicians with saving the planet! They’ve done such a knock-up job on inner city poverty and Afghanistan.

NOTE: I am not accusing Brad Johnson of anything dishonest with his link to my post. I’m just saying, it was rather misleading.

25 Aug 2009

Please Proffer Preemptive Pardon

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I’ve been meaning to say this for awhile, but it’s especially relevant now, since I’m hitting the Mises Circle circuit starting this weekend.

I read all emails, and I catch most comments on blog posts, but I really don’t have the time to answer everything at this point. But if I tell you I will blog something, and then you don’t see it for a week, feel free to pester me. I have allowed more emails to run off the front page of my inbox, than most people get by 9 am (or something like that).

25 Aug 2009

Principled Leftists Realizing That Bush+Eloquence=Obama

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Bob Roddis sends this encouraging video. Remember back during the Bush years, kids, when those of you who think like me were so mad at being lumped in with the “conservative” nation-building, deficit-exploding, Big Brother Bush administration. Well by the same token, we should give credit where it’s due. There are a lot of leftists (whose preferred programs would be awful, don’t get me wrong) waking up to the truth about Barack Obama. The below video is very well done, because it weaves in campaign promises that Obama is now completely ignoring. Also, I love how the host calls him “such a charming liar.”

And she’s right, he is. It’s a very pleasant contrast to the cocksure lying of the last guy.

25 Aug 2009

Libertarian, Free-Market Blog "MarginalRevolution" In Support of White House Torture

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Yeah, their argument is that given that the feds are going to torture people to prevent American deaths–and really, can any libertarian be for American deaths? isn’t it unlibertarian to blow up a building?–then it makes sense to allow trained professionals, under the direct supervision of the Cabinet, carry out the electroshocks, waterboarding, and mock child-execution. After all, if you’re going to torture people, you want it to be in the open, with Hillary Clinton watching. You don’t want some CIA goon doing it in a foreign country.

Ha ha, fooled you! Alex and Tyler would never advance such an argument. No, the closest you’ll ever see is that in back-to-back posts, they support government bailouts of banks and government provision of health insurance. Man those guys are hardcore. It’s great that we’ve got free marketeers in higher education, to combat the socialism being peddled in our elite universities.