Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Economic illiterate attacks economics

From the man who admitted "I know a lot less about economics than I do about military or foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated." From the man who recently called for interest rates of zero percent. Now, an inane and factually incorrect attack on economists and economics:

"You know the economists? They're the same ones that didn't predict this housing crisis we're in. They're the same ones that didn't predict the dot-com meltdown. They're the same ones that didn't predict the inflation that's staring us in the face today."

This is simply militant ignorance. Economists warned of the dot-com bubble. Economists warned of the housing bubble before subprime mortgages became the preferred vehicle for promoting the mania. And economists have been warning of inflation for some time.

The U.S., and particularly Congress, has simply ignored sound economics, and the country is now plunging headlong into a financial and monetary debacle. Economics is what is needed, not econ bashing. McCain is an economic illiterate, and utterly unfit for any public office, and particularly the Presidency.

Does he want predictions? I predict this dunce won't win. (Election fraud doesn't count.)

But as I already predicted, he's back in the race for political excellence!

"McCain is an economic illiterate, and utterly unfit for any public office, and particularly the Presidency." Now, now Charles, we take a deap breath and we calm down. Would you care to elaborate on the "unfit for office"? NV
ouch..."deEp" of course
I'm rather calm, for someone on a rapidly sinking ship, which has two would-be captains arguing about how best to shoot holes in the hull to let the water out.

For instance, there's McCain's "Lexington Project" designed to give us "strategic energy independence" from "hostile and unstable suppliers of oil"... I guess such as Canada and Mexico, our primary suppliers.

"Energy independence" makes no sense at all. The arguments for it are no better, and no different, from those for ending all foreign trade.

McCain is shockingly ignorant of economics, and seems to have a foreign policy more warlike than Bush. I don't like Obama, but I fear he would be a better President than McCain.
Alright, let us go for a bit of "straight talk" now: Mc Cain's energy plans are no news to any European. Virtually every European leader is arguing the same thing. There must be some truth in the argumentation. I do not see how diversification could do any harm to the US economy, but then again, I am no economist. Calling someone like John Mccain an "ignorant" is a bit far fetched. He admits himself that he needs to get more insight in certain areas. I would rather see this as a positive thing. He is a soldier. He knows and can assess his weaknesses and that is important for a leader. He has made sure to turn this weak point into strength by getting the proper expertise. You, however tend to silence his strength, and unlike you I definitely would stress his expertise in foreign policy. John Mccain is definitely not a new version G. W. Bush. John Mccain has an openly multilateral approach of foreign policy. He has been following closely what has been happening in the post-Soviet area. He has been attending EVERY major Atlanticist/international meeting for years. He KNOWS what is on the agenda, trust me. John Mccain has another approach to defense policy as well. To sum up: John Mccain has been places we both would never have survived. John Mccain is a leader. So, there! NV
I almost entirely disagree. I won't reply to you point by point, but

1. Dirigisme and central planning are *not* the way to address energy problems. This approach will worsen, not alleviate, energy constraints. The fact that European leaders are also favoring state planning is not an argument in its favor.

2. McCain is not proposing diversification, but self-sufficiency, a plan that necessarily will increase energy prices.

3. McCain's recent discussions of economics show he's grossly ignorant, and his economist bashing is at best cheap political pandering; I suspect he really doesn't like economists.

4. McCain is not a leader (nor a was he a soldier). He was a Navy pilot and a career politician. He comes from a tradition that is regimented, authoritarian, central planning oriented, and not particularly intellectual. Sure, we have had Presidents who overcame such a background, but McCain is no Eisenhower. He does seem to be hell-bent on permanent war, though.

5. One point you do not address: McCain seems to have no respect at all for civil liberties. The McCain-Feingold law is a direct violation of freedom of speech and press. It will be illegal under it when I blog about who I prefer for President in a few months. His opposition to private ownership of firearms is well known. He's a supporter of domestic spying and the PATRIOT Act.

6. I've not said he's George W. Bush II; I don't think he is. I do appreciate and respect that he survived torture in a North Vietnamese prison. That doesn't qualify him to hold office. And I suspect you or I could have survived; it's a matter first of all of willpower. I do not think he is a better human being than you or I, at any rate.

Finally, I really have to say...I am not over the top in my criticisms of McCain & Obama. The U.S. really is in a financial and monetary debacle; it is more dangerous to us and more sure than al Qaeda, and both candidates are proposing things that will make it worse.

Your comments are always appreciated here, Nat, but I strongly disagree with you on this one.
1. I do not see any form of dirigism in the attempt of achieving independence from certain energy suppliers.
2. And yes, diversification (the option of nuclear energy) is what most European leaders propose. I would not call Sarkozy a “Socialist”, by the way. McCain advocates an increase of offshore drilling for oil and 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030. What is so shoking about it? I read something about strategic independence, not self-sufficiency. That is quite different. I do not think the US can be totally self-sufficient in that respect. I agree with you.
3. I have no idea whether he likes economists or not. You are right, he should have perhaps been more careful. But a soft spoken, diplomatic sweet talking McCain is no McCain anymore! I do think though that his remark has to be put back into the context of a tough campaign. There comes a time when a candidate runs out of wit and makes a clumsy remark. I do not think that it reflects the genuine attitude of the candidate. But it is for the American people to judge.
4. There I must say, I am lost with words. Is this you, Charles who complains about economist-bashing who is speaking about the military like this? Someone who attended a Military Academy is de facto a trained soldier, what else, a plumber maybe?
And like it or not, he is a leader. Someone who has such a career in politics as John McCain has, has to be able to lead. He is a leader per definitionem. When you write about the ”tradition that is regimented, authoritarian, central planning oriented, and not particularly intellectual.” I guess you are mixing the the US with the Belarussian army. Unless you view the US military as a group of servile analphabets who can’t think for themselves. To be honest, I do not like reading stuff like that about my army, and I certainly do not like reading stuff like that about our US ally’s highly respectable armed forces. You must know a different US army then. I have had the privilege to socialize and work with US military staff. I assure you that there are bright minds around. They deserve respect and our full support. This is quite telling that you write about “overcoming such a backbround”. What is there to “overcome”? It is not a shame to serve your country, Charles, it is a privilege and an honor.
5. I cannot comment.
6. I disagree. When you write: “And I suspect you or I could have survived”. I cannot speak for you, but personally, I am no hero. I have no idea what I would have done if- after years of torture- I would have been offered freedom. You will remember that he declined under the circumstances offered. It takes a hero.
7. This is not for me to judge. This is the preogative of the American people to express their views on that.
8. It is good that we sometimes disagree and can exchange views.
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