Archive for August, 2011

Conversations with a Liberal & Keynesian Economics

I was chatting with one of my liberal friends from college the other day, and we started fiercely debating the current dire economic situation and the causes behind it.  It was your typical back-and-forth liberal/conservative talking points regarding taxes, the welfare state, and the costs of foreign wars, until he made this startling statement:  “Government can always run a debt – we don’t need a balanced budget.”

In this day and age of massive federal debt, skyrocketing inflation, and double-digit unemployment, a liberal was telling me that Keynesian economics is still alive and well.  Disregard the fact that decades of deficit spending espoused by Keynesian theory has directly lead to our spiraling, out-of-control debt.  Ignore the fact that the vast, unsupportable welfare state, created by the Great Socialist F.D.R. and threatening to destroy America today, was a direct by-product of the Keynesian thought that government should have a predominant role in the free market.  Just focus on the central premise of Keynesian economics – that market forces are inefficient and saving is detrimental to the economy – and you will realize the great disconnect liberals have with the current economic situation.

The Classical School of economic theory has been tossed aside in favor of Keynesian theory since the 1930s, but no one in government has stopped to ask if it’s working (or if they have, they’ve been marginalized as crazy nut-jobs, a la Ron Paul).  Clearly, decades of deficit spending, policies anathema to saving, and the entrenched belief that government must interfere with the free market has lead to the situation we have now – scenarios in which energy and oil companies receive enormous federal subsidies to invest in clean energy research, despite posting record quarterly profits, or a welfare state that fails to remove people from its payroll and creates cyclical poverty in the inner-cities, or runaway increases in the prices of goods as we tinker on the edge of hyperinflation.  Sadly, liberals are not the only ones guilty of embracing Keynesian economics.  George W. Bush, in his last years of presidency, passed bail-out packages similar to those of Obama’s, based on the same application of the flawed Keynesian theory.  If you remember the phrase “too-big-to-fail,” that idea is exactly the premise behind Keynes.

Liberals and neo-conservatives suffer from a disconnect with economic reality because their basic outlook on the free market is derived from the debunked Keynesian theory. They refuse to observe the calamity Keynes has created, and stubbornly adhere ever closer to the theory’s tenants, despite the insurmountable evidence disputing it. There have been several challenges since the implementation of Keynesian theory, most notably those of Milton Friedman and the Austrian School, but they force politicians to make hard, unpopular decisions.  It is much easier to allow the system to continuously dig itself into an ever deeper hole, until we do default on our foreign debt or we have to pay $1,000.00 for a loaf of bread, than to tell your constituents that you cut pork barrel legislation from your district.

Source: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/2011/08/11/news/economy/debt_committee_members/super-committee3.gi.top.jpg

The super-committee - whatever they propose, it won't be enough.

This “super-committee” of six Republicans and six Democrats tasked with identifying $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years is a drop in the bucket compared to the double-digit debt we have in the trillions.  They may bicker and posture in front of the cameras, but the reality is that whatever proposal they suggest will not be enough.  The underlying system itself, founded on Keynesian theory, is fundamentally wrong.  We can’t support wasteful subsidies to profitable businesses anymore, and Republicans will have to make that difficult decision.  We can’t afford to keep millions of impoverished people on the welfare state (a recent report cited that nearly 45% of all Americans receive some type of benefit from the federal government’s welfare state) without making any efforts to remove people from its payrolls, and Democrats will have to face their inner-city voters and make that hard decision.  Until we change that, the efforts of the super-committee will result in nothing but cosmetic changes to a dying economy.

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World War Z – A Failure Already?

Rumors are leaking all over the internet that World War Z, the highly anticipated post-apocalyptic zombie movie starring Brad Pitt and based off the novel of the same name by Max Brooks, will have nothing to do with the book’s storyline.  In case you aren’t a zombie enthusiast, World War Z was an epic masterpiece of zombie literature, set years after a zombie apocalypse has ravaged the planet and humanity.  It followed the travels of a U.N. worker who interviews various characters and records their harrowing accounts of the rise, spread, and defeat of a global zombie menace.  When news of the movie broke out several years ago, zombie fanatics everywhere drooled at the thought of a hundred million dollar budget zombie flick based off this innovative novel.

But… Paramount Studios, the producers of the movie, just released a teaser, one-line synopsis of the movie, and it sounds nothing like the book.

“The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.”

What the fuck!!

This sounds like basically every zombie movie ever made.  Instead of exploring the incredibly detailed and in-depth world created by Max Brooks, the producers have decided to just make another rehashed zombie movie.  The most interesting parts of the novel were the individual accounts from everyday people and the metaphors strewn throughout referencing political, social, and even religious undertones.  One of my favorite “journal entries” was an entry attributed to a South Korean observer, who described North Korea’s preparation for the zombie apocalypse and how their population was conditioned to survive it.  Paramount has thrown this element out the door and has opted instead to make another, “action hero with guns shoots zombies, saves world,” movie. Lame.

I will undoubtedly still see the movie.  But consider myself sorely disappointed.  Paramount could have done something epic with this novel.  It would have changed the zombie genre entirely, and breathed more life into it than George A. Romero ever could now (sorry Romero, but you suck now – Survival of the Dead was awful).  Sadly, they weren’t up to the task.

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