In fact, I was pissed that I couldn't watch the Spurs/Hornets game last night as it was on TNT.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Gekko is still burning off a Time Magazine (aka Obama campaign flyer) subscription from a year ago and every once in a while I'll read these Justin Fox columns (Fox is Time's alleged staff economist). Fortunately, I read it in the hopper so I can be green and use it in lieu of TP.
Last week, he had a column about the steps he would take to improve the economy. Due to time, I will only address two of these here.
BURNING FOSSIL FUELS AND MONEY ISN'T AN ENERGY POLICY. LET'S GET ONE
One of the biggest factors in making paychecks seem smaller in recent years has been the sharp increase in energy prices. There's very little a President can do to change this in the short term; the summer gas-tax holiday proposed by McCain and Clinton would put just a few dollars in the pockets of all but the biggest gas hogs. Where Presidents (and Congress) can have a big impact is in the long-term trajectory of energy prices and their effect on the economy. Elected officials can do this by steering Americans away from oil and toward other energy sources and conservation measures — or by failing to do so, which has been the laissez-faire policy of the past quarter-century and has helped land us in our current sorry situation.
What makes doing the right thing on energy difficult is that it would almost inevitably involve raising costs now, with higher taxes on oil, increased subsidies for other energy sources or higher energy-efficiency standards for vehicles and homes — or all three. Economists tend to prefer the first of these approaches because taxes on gas, oil or fossil fuels in general tamp demand and allow the market — rather than members of Congress — to sift out the best alternatives.
So to improve the economy, we need to RAISE gas prices? There's a reason democrats run the public schools... you'd have to be an imbecile to believe this.
In addition, what does an energy policy actually look like?
Let me throw this out to Justin and/or any of my readers. What energy technology would you invest in right now that the private sector isn't already on top of and yet would be viable in 20 years? No one knows; especially retarded, corrupt, weasels aka senators. This whole ethanol fiasco is a perfect example of what a government energy policy looks like; "let's turn food into fuel, what a great idea".
Riddle me this Batman, name one thing the government ever designed, created, or perfected. Nothing. The only thing the government can do is provide corporate welfare to companies like GE to come up with these energy technologies; something they would do on their own damn nickel.
Now that fuel is priced where it is, the private sector now has an incentive to spend their own R&D dollars to come up with energy alternatives. It won't need the government. In addition, the government is likely to waste valuable resources (time and money) on energy that will never have a long term use, like ethanol and solar.
Oh, by the way, what was the government's energy policy when we progressed from kerosene lanterns to the incandescent light bulb?
But aaaahhhh we're not done with Justin's magical economy fixes. Here's another great idea from an economist.
A HOUSE IS THE AMERICAN DREAM — BUT THE TAX BREAK IS COSTLY
Some 1.5 million U.S. homes fell into foreclosure in 2007, and the number will probably be even higher this year. Congress is debating a bill aimed at slowing this tsunami, but the window to act is rapidly closing. Next year the focus is likely to turn to preventing a rerun of the real estate debacle. An exact repeat is already unlikely; bleeding banks have toughened lending standards, and the Federal Reserve is tightening its mortgage rules, squeezing out most of those "no doc" mortgage mills.
The mess has also caused some economists to question why we subsidize housing so heavily in the first place. The tax deduction for home-mortgage interest alone costs the government about $80 billion a year, and most of that benefit flows to the wealthiest 16% of taxpayers, according to the Tax Foundation. It also means we're subsidizing bigger houses and home-equity loans, possibly at the expense of other investments that might deliver a bigger economic bang. Money spent on a factory, a piece of equipment or a software program can pay off in higher growth and productivity. A house just sits there.
So we're going to improve the economy by getting rid of a deduction (aka raising taxes). Why didn't I think of that?
Look, I'm not a fan of the mortgage deduction. I'd eliminate the deduction but only as part of a comprehensive tax overhaul ie a flat tax or national sales tax. But how does just eliminating the deduction do anything for the economy?
Think of it this way, I come to your house and demand that you give me the $100.00 a month that you save as a result of your mortgage deduction. Since I took that money from you, I promise to provide you with a $100.00 a month subsidy for your health care. Are you better off?
Actually it's not even that good because the way the government operates, you give them the $100.00/month they turn around and spend it on mohair subsidies for Sam Donaldson.
So this is the brain trust of "progressive" economics. If you ever wonder why our inner cities, run by "progressives", are arm pits, you need look no further than the non sequitur logic of a "progressive" economist.
This is what we have to look forward to under an Obamania presidency. Start buying wool futures because wool cardigan sweaters are going to be fashionable again.
You might want to buy into arugula futures as well.