A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
Just to prove to you that some discriminating and discerning people are reaping immeasurable benefits from the Curmudgeonly Professor blog, here are some absolutely brilliant comments from my niece, Julie:
Thanks to your blog, I'm now well-versed in shopping at Costco, locating industrial-strength suspenders and improving my alternative behavioral paradigm, irregardless of my egregious desire to rub my husband's back during church! Keep up the good work!
I am so grateful to Julie. Some people have liked the flowers, some the Hawaii photos, but this is the first confirmation I have had that what I am doing is of lasting, permanent value.
Last night my wife and I attended a presentation on birding in Brazil by Ned Hill, who was just released as Dean of the Marriott School of Business at BYU, and who was first my colleague and then my dean during my last years before I retired. Ned has become a world-class birder who has traveled the world lecturing in his finance specialty areas and birding. He has identified well over 2000 bird varieties. He is also extremely proud of his three year old grandson who can identify birds.
I had a chance to visit with Ned and his wife Claralyn to catch up on life at the Marriott School. Ned has just been appointed to the board of Morgan Stanley, so spends time in New York at the board meetings. He was also notified that he was a finalist for the presidency of Utah Valley University, or UVU. UVU has recently converted from a state college to full university status, and started out years ago as a trade-tech school. UVU is on track, I would predict, to become the largest state university in Utah and perhaps one of the largest in the intermountain region. BYU, its sister institution in Utah County, has an enrollment cap but draws students from all over the world even though Utah students still predominate. With Utah's growing population, and with continued pressure from LDS kids around the country to come to Utah, UVU is a natural magnet for college students, including those who can't get into BYU for one reason or another.
Tragedy is, Claralyn ran for the Utah legislature as a Democrat from Utah County. Of course, the odds were formidably stacked against her being elected since Utah County, like most of Utah outside Salt Lake County, is overwhelmingly Republican. Republicans have dominated both houses of the Utah Legislature for years. Claralyn's misstep, as far as Ned's consideration for president of UVU was concerned, was to make legislative ethics a major campaign issue. In Utah County, as in Utah generally, one does not criticize Republicans. Thus, as Paul Rolly writes in this article from yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune, the Hills were told they needed to "make amends" and "apologize . . . for questioning their ethics." Rather than groveling at the Republican throne, Ned withdrew his candidacy. Thus, UVU lost an opportunity to hire a brilliant administrator, a consummate fund raiser, and a peace maker as a leader. I learned these same lessons decades ago when I worked for the Wyoming Legislature and dared criticize the Republican leadership. My reward was that the most powerful member of the state Senate went after my hide and continued to do so as long as he lived, which was a long, long, time--even after I made sincere effort to make amends. It's sad that some feel that those who disagree should be subject to humiliation and punishment in a country that espouses freedom of thought and speech. Ironically, another former colleague in my department at BYU, who was previously president of Weber State, is now interim president of Dixie State College here in St. George. So there you have it.
We had our carpets cleaned yesterday, so we needed to kill some time while they were drying. Turns out our carpet cleaner's parents grew up in Lovell WY, a small town near Powell WY where I grew up. I asked him if he had ever looked at the Lovell high school annual scans on the Lovell Chronicle web site. Since he hadn't, I found freshman class photos of his mom and dad in the 1946 Lovell annual and printed them out. Since I was a contemporary, I knew many of the kids in the Lovell annual. Our carpet cleaner told us he had a college degree, and sufficient credits for three other college degrees, but when he told me how much he made annually cleaning carpets, I realized why he was doing it. He told us his thirteen year old daughter organized a business making hair bows and that she saved $2800 last summer. He said his nine year old son went around the neighborhood asking people if they had any chores they wanted him to do for five bucks, and had plenty of takers. He started this activity after trying to collect five bucks apiece for the phone books he was hired to deliver and running into some resistance.
But I digress. With two or three hours to kill, we needed to find the ideal place to kill it. And then I had a great idea: Costco! My wife objected, but I told her I would buy John Grisham's new novel just out for her, so we went. And boy oh boy did we hit the jackpot. Two days before the Super Bowl and Costco was like a carnival in full swing. They had enough outstanding food samples for a complete food buffet with everything you could think of: chicken wings, dozens of dips, salmon, crackers and cheese, drinks, desserts, and anything else you could imagine. We neither one needed any dinner last night. We saw the usual number of FLDS people from Colorado City and Hilldale, ladies and girls in their long braids, long dresses, and heavy black shoes. We saw one man with an FLDS woman, a rare event since mostly the women travel together in vans buying huge quantities and pushing the big orange hand trucks you see at the front of the above photo. It took us an hour and a half to buy a rotisserie chicken for five bucks, a bottle of peach-mango salsa, and Grisham's new book, which is supposed to be as good as The Firm. I did lose track of my wife once, but it was only temporary so I was not reprimanded. I tried to buy a new set of colorful acrylic glasses for twenty bucks, but was admonished that we didn't need them. Of course not. You never need 10% of the stuff you buy at Costco, but the impulse items escalate your quality of life, increase your daily enjoyment, and run up your American Express bill. But at least you are stimulating the economy while Congress dithers. No question about it, spending money at Costco has a direct economic effect on unemployment, consumer confidence, consumer debt, the GDP, sales taxes, federal taxes, and the price elasticity of demand. So I was proud to have done my bit.
I wouldn't keep adding to my Costco stories, except a number of readers have reassured me how valuable this information is in terms of their own Costco experiences, and so I am happy to oblige. Besides, I need to kill some time before the three basketball games in a row I want to see start at 1:00 p.m. Have a nice day. I should get a huge discount from Costco for providing all of this free advertising.
Dear Blog Readers: I know, some of you think I have gone bonkers. Some of you pity me for not being in the minority of Utah voters who rate Dubya's favorable performance level above 50%. Others have expressed ire that I have cast aspersions on that giant of objective reporting, Rush Limbaugh. My sisters think, our poor brother. Why has he gone to the dogs? Some have abandoned my blog because of heresy and a dangerous liberal tint.
This last episode of economic history, the economic stimulus bill, was just too good and monumental of a topic to just sit by and wave at. Too much is at stake. Besides, writing, debating, arguing, and discussing this stuff is what I love and what I spent 40 years doing. So hold on, and I will remove this noxious content out of your sight and you will need not be subjected to it unless you deliberately float over to my business and economics blog. Thank you for your patience.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell at an annual rate of 3.8% in IVQ (fourth quarter) 2008, the worst drop in 26 years. Would have been worse if inventory investment hadn't been strong, since inventory investment counts as plus GDP. Problem is, how long will inventories just sit there and molder?
Consumer spending, no surprise, dropped 3.5% in IVQ 08, a bit smaller than the 3.8% drop in IIIQ 08.
Salon.com suggests that if President Obama appoints a Republican such as Senator Judd Gregg as Secretary of Commerce, the way is paved to achieve a 60-seat filibuster majority. Query: Why would a Republican want to work for the perpetrators of the worst piece of economic legislation in one hundred years? Just wondered.
Send for the fire engines! Call the EMTs! Sign your last will and testament! Update your powers of attorney! Cancel your newspaper subscriptions! Don't bother watching the Super Bowl! Go ahead and eat hot dogs, nachos, Big Macs, Triple Whoppers with Bacon and 4 layers of cheese! Clog your arteries! Yes, fellow citizens we are doomed! Doomed! The Book of Lamentations has nothing on us. Job was in paradise compared to us. Even Daniel in the Lion's Den had better odds than we have to make the grade. Buy three cases of beer, turn off the lights, and wait in your recliner chair for the bitter, bitter, end.
Yes, we have new revelation today warning us of the dire consequences of the fiscal stimulus bill, a revelation heretofore hidden and only now brought to light in time to scare the you know what out of us and rally around the revelator. You will never sleep soundly again. You might as well abandon your home, pack up your Cadillac Escalade, and head for the hills
Here dear fellow citizens is what we have just learned today. Be prepared.
RNC Chair Mike Duncan has warned that the Democrat's goal is to
"indoctrinate a generation of American children to the gentle comforts of the nanny state."--according to Alex Koppelman in Salon.com's War Room.
Furthermore, as quoted by Koppelman, Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has gone one better with this scary, scary, scary thought:
"The stimulus bill . . . is the worst piece of economic legislation Congress has passed in one hundred years. Not since the passage in 1909 of the 16th Amendment . . . which cleared the way for a federal income tax. . . has the U.S. seriously entertained a policy so comprehensively hostile to economic freedom, nor so arrogantly indifferent to economic reality."
I know I'm really scared now. Are you? On the other hand, we are living in a truly landmark, historic moment once we get our teeth into the knowledge that the stimulus bill is the worst piece of economic legislation since paving the way for the federal income tax! How can you get any worse than that? The economic history books will add a new chapter to memorialize the egregiousness of this legislation. Reminds me of our neighbors in a community we once lived in who brought a suit in federal court twenty or thirty years to declare the federal income tax unconstitutional. Or the man who once interviewed me for a teaching job whose claim to fame was the authorship of a master's thesis titled "Twenty Nine Evils of the Progressive Income Tax." And certainly the last thing we want is for our children to grow up in a nanny state.
The real problem in our economy is that we don't have many choices. Ordinarily, we could pull ourselves out of a recession by lowering interest rates and thereby raising the money supply and total spending. With interest rates effectively about zero, lowering them further is no longer an option. So how do you pump money into the economy? Lower taxes, for one thing. But tax reduction has an anemic track record in recent years. Increase government spending. Such increases demonstrably have a larger impact, dollar for dollar, than tax reduction, but how soon? And spend on what?
Then the question emerges, who will pay for the new flood of cash? Three choices: (1) raise taxes. Not likely. (2) sell bonds. Assumes someone will buy them. or (3) print money. I owe you $10, I print a ten spot and hand it over. It's called monetizing the debt. And magnificently inflationary, thereby wrecking the economy possibly beyond repair if carried out more than in relatively small amounts. But we're talking about gigantic, humongous amounts here, not a few piddling billions.
Probably the most difficult strategy to achieve in an economic crisis is to instill confidence and optimism once more in the economy by generating a sense of forward motion that delivers food on the table and a roof over heads. And apparently we haven't quite figured out whether we are serious about wanting to do that, or even to try seriously to achieve this goal, even if we have to fix continually the method or methods we start out with.
Here is a dream list that has been floating around the email forwarding empire, source and author unknown. I know many people out there can increase their nervous tension, magnify their worries, the obsessive compulsive whatever, and lay awake nights thinking about these little gems. As the obnoxious waiter says, enjoy.
Just want to thank all of you for your educational e-mails over the past year. I am totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery.
I no longer open a public bathroom door without using a paper towel.
Or have them put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.
I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one's nose.
Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have
consumed over the years.
I can't touch any woman's purse for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public bathroom.
I must send my special thanks to whoever sent me the one about poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.
Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.
I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258 th time.
I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.
I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.
I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.
I won't touch margarine, as it is just one molecule away from being plastic.
I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.
Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains, nor do I drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put 'Under God' on their cans.
I can no longer buy gasoline without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.
I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.
And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face, disfiguring me for life.
I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.
Neither will I go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.
I no longer receive packages from UPS or Fed Ex since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise..
I won't shop at Target since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.
I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan .
I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.
Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but my own because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my butt.
And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up $5.00 dropped
in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by
a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.
I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by the brown recluse and my hand will fall off.
If you don't send this e-mail to at least 14,000 people in the next 14 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM tomorrow afternoon and the fleas from 1,000 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's
second husband's cousin's beautician...
Have a wonderful day.... Oh, by the way.....A German scientist from Argentina, after a lengthy
study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity
Yahoo.com had an item today from Tech Crunch for ordering photo books for $2.99 each plus 75 cents shipping from the UK to the US for photos on Face Book albums. Apparently people who have ordered them are pleased with them. They include 8 sheets for 16 pages with about six photos per page. See their website here. For the Tech Crunch website which contains a few more details, go here. If anyone tries it, let the rest of us know how it went. While the Tech Crunch article indicates shipping to the U.S. for 75 cents, a comment says its more like $8. Another comment says the book isn't even close to iPhoto books, but of course the iPhoto printed photo books are probably in the $20 range and above. Just an idea in case anyone wants to try it.
Warning: Do not read if this topic seems Toxic. Can be irritating and aggravating.
Chalk one up in the annals of economic and political history. The Republicans voted in lockstep disciplinary order yesterday against the so-called "economic stimulus package." There is, of course, much to grouse about concerning this stimulus bill. No one knows exactly how such a shotgun scatter approach and dribbling bits here and pieces there will all come together to produce jobs, help needy business and households, and start jazzing up the economic indicators again. And certainly no one knows how long it will take for bureaucrats and lobbyists and opportunists to dispense, spend, and acquire their share of the goodies. Some economists believe that we should have no stimulus package, that we should let the poor suckers sink, giving them time to cleanse their souls, change their greedy and ill-chosen paths of ignorance, and shape up.
Problem is, if the financial sector sinks, we all sink, and not just those who reaped $18.4 billion in bonuses last year while many of their employees were canned and didn't even have a bowl of gruel. After all economists still do not totally agree on what caused the Great Depression eighty years ago, let alone what they should do to heal a sick economy today.
But enough of this blather. Here is the multiple choice exam.
The Republicans voted 188 nays and 0 yeas on the stimulus bill because: (mark all that apply).
Rush Limbaugh told them to vote nay and they don't want to tick the King of talk radio off and then have to apologize to stay in his good graces.
They can't stand Nancy Pelosi and they don't like the idea of her telling them what to do.
They misunderstood the word "bipartisan."
They didn't like the free drinks they got at the White House the night before the vote.
They can't stand Keith Olberman or Rachel Maddow.
They are worried about irritating their constituent base back home since 100% of the House is already campaigning for reelection two years hence.
They believe the fundamentals of the economy are fundamentally sound.
They are hacked at being in the minority and want to present a united front to gain power again.
They couldn't come up with a serious alternative proposal except to provide more tax cuts, which are less stimulative than government spending, rather than more government spending.
They still believe that government spending is evil, despite the meteoric run-up of government spending during the past eight years.
All in all, observers, analysts, cable news, media, people who have lost and are still losing their jobs, corporations and businesses of all sizes and all kinds who have gone bankrupt or shuttered their windows or who are about to do so, are having a field day arguing, calling each other names, and trying to figure out where another loaf of bread or bottle of pills is coming from. It does make one wonder whether enough money can be raised to do anyone any good except provide a band-aid when what is needed is a massive transfusion. And a massive transfusion is not likely to come.
The Curmudgeonly Professor has explained the topic of why economics is called the dismal science previously, but in the interest of bringing everyone up to date, here is the explanation again. Most students think economics is known as the dismal science because they say that it is boring. Picture a class of 400 students, eyes glazed over, eyes closed in slumber, visiting with their neighbors, texting, Googling, or whatever else they can do to kill time until class is over. Even when I see students years afterward, I get comments like "I liked your jokes, but economics was sure boring."
No, no students, economics is not called the dismal science because it is boring. It is called the dismal science in recognition of the theories of Parson Thomas Malthus a whole bunch of years ago. Parson Malthus opined that population grows geometrically (2, 4, 16, etc.) while resources and the food supply grow arithmetically (2, 4, 6, etc.). So the result is obvious: humanity is doomed. No hope exists for survival. We will all perish. The good reverend, however, overlooked the possibility of technological growth in resource use and food production so, except for global warming in the midst of a cold and disastrous winter, we are still kicking. So to speak.
Thus, economics is concerned with why human beings want more stuff than they can produce with limited resources. To repeat a story I told before, the first semester I taught at BYU a Mormon nerd raised his hand and said "The Bible says there is enough and to spare, so you said resources are scarce, and that is unscriptural, and so we should not be required to take economics." (See Luke 15:17 : "And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have enough and to spare and I perish in hunger?") I said something to myself like, "Holy cow, a true Mormon nerd. But this ingenious trouble maker overlooked the fact that he was the one who could perish in hunger, and he had better as heck study economics if he wanted to survive.
The Dismal Science actually began centuries before Malthus, when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. The unemployment rate was 100%, and there was no government bailout plan, no social security, no FDIC, just a mean and dreary world which they were expected to figure out how to live in. God got really ticked off at everyone a bit later so He drowned everyone except Noah and some of his family and a boat load of stinking animals. But the people turned out just as wicked afterward anyway, so what good did it do?
The first agricultural government storage program began with Joseph in Egypt, and we have had government support of agriculture ever since since we are worried that if we don't bribe the farmers they will quit producing beans and such and we will starve to death. But you think about it: almost everything in the world is tied to economics, so economics is the root discipline of all mankind and all learning. Greed and jealousy caused Cain to slay Abel and away we went. No one was ever satisfied with one bowl of gruel, or one color TV set, or one country, or one pair of socks. No, everyone wanted more, patterning themselves after Oliver Twist.
Well class I can see that I have divulged enough material for today. Read the next fifteen chapters by tomorrow and we will continue from here. And there will be a quiz. There is a lot of food for thought here.
Listen up class and knock off your stupid texting, unplug your iPod buds, turn off your DVDs on your computer, turn off your cell phones and don't call your mother until after class to whine about the quiz. You have been coasting too long and not paying attention. From now on, we are cracking down in this class. Remember, if you don't graduate, you may not be able to find a job. And, if you don't, you'll just have to keep going to school and get a master's degree. Or two or three of them. So take out paper and pencil and let's begin:
Why is a U.S. import tax on Roquefort cheese raising a stink in France?
Will Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, and Governor Blagojevich collectively find a way to upstage the Super Bowl?
Why did President Obama say he was rooting for the Steelers in the Super Bowl? Doesn't he need a red state like Arizona? And for that matter, isn't he supposed to be President of all the people? Extra credit bonus: Who exactly is playing in the Super Bowl?
Is former President Clinton worth in excess of $4 million bucks for giving speeches, including one speech for $1 million? Hells bells, the Curmudgeonly Professor could give a better speech for free. But then again no one would come.
When Citigroup decided to spend $50 million for a new corporate jet, did they determine that marginal benefits would exceed marginal costs? And since business isn't exactly booming, why do they need to take a trip? Shouldn't they stay home and figure out how they can keep from screwing up the financial world again? Explain fully.
Why did failed financial institutions manage to pay out $18.4 Billion in bonuses? And did they use even one penny of bailout money to pay them? And, part (c) of question, why weren't they fired and fined for their greed and stupidity instead of rewarded?
Please explain where the first $350 billion of the bailout money disappeared and how much benefit it has provided?
How many Republican votes were cast in favor of the economic stimulus bill in Congress yesterday? Explain in detail.
Why did the government give $350 Billion to the same people who messed up the financial system and the economy in the first place? Where would these people find newly found competence to do any better? And isn't this akin, as my teacher used to say, putting a prostitute in charge of the vice squad? (extra credit question).
Please write legibly and in complete sentences. This quiz will count a whopping 20% of your semester grade. And don't ask me to explain what the questions mean or if you have correctly answered it during the exam. And don't every one go out to go to the bathroom at once so you can discuss the questions. And close down your computers so you can't Google for the answers during the exam. And don't write a letter to the Dean complaining that the Curmudgeonly Professor gives unfair exams about irrelevant topics. All topics are relevant in economics.
In the interests of keeping his blog readers fully informed as to matters of importance and general interest, and to provide real benefits for the time you are spending (wasting) surfing blogs today, here is the pick of today's events:
Microsoft will issue Windows 7 some time this year to overhaul bugs in Vista.
Pay attention to the "Super Bowl flush" urban legend, which warns you that all of those gluttons out there who gorge on buffalo wings, nachos, tacos, dips, cheese, beer, and who knows what have a tendency to clog kitchen sinks and toilets. Beware particularly of half-time and game end when 100 million people will flush simultaneously.
According to MSNBC, France is the world's largest consumer of frog's legs and people consume so many zillions of the tasty little critters that they may be getting scarce. So do your duty and quit eating so dang many frogs.
According to NFL on Fox, the recession has hit the Super Bowl, leaving eateries and bars in the doldrums, causing GM and Fed Ex to cancel their ads even at lower rates, and worrying scalpers who may have to sell at face by game time. Oh yes, and Fox reports Playboy has canceled its annual party. Gee Whiz.
Be sure to buy your Snuggies before the Super Bowl game. Or, do the economy Snuggie by finding an old ratty blanket, cutting a hole for your head, two for your arms, and there you have it, voila, a snuggie!
Check back often for informed tidbits essential to your daily life.
Gary Cooper is about to step out on the empty street to defend the integrity of a town hiding behind shutters, while gorgeous bride Grace awaits the outcome. The tension builds. The bad guy steps off the train. The clock ticks, ticks, ticks. The hands move toward noon. Coop saves the day, then without even saying or waving goodbye to the town takes off with beautiful Gracie in his horse-drawn wagon. What was Gracie, all of eighteen years old? Thus ends one of the all-time classic movies.
Today, the nation awaits tonight's vote on the fiscal stimulus bill. The White House is inviting people in for drinks. Rush Limbaugh, exercising his uncontested First Amendment Rights, is ardently hoping the President will fail. Republicans are lined up like the French Foreign Legion riding full steam ahead, swords drawn, against an Algerian fortress. As the lines from the drama the Pasture of Heaven say concerning the difference between two political parties, "They's in, and we's out." Cable TV is busy interviewing whoever will talk to them to elucidate on the events of the day and to assure the nation, like witnesses in a Matlock murder trial, that they are right and everyone is incontrovertibly wrong. Government spending is still seen as consummately wasteful, while tax cuts are seen as gloriously beneficial. Alice Rivlin, a contemporary when many of us were young economists in the Kennedy Administration and who became one of the most powerful and respected economists and budget analysts in government, correctly warns that spending must be sorted into short- and long-term spending. In other words, we don't have six months or two years to collect environmental impact statements, fill out forms in quadruplicate, hold local, state, and federal government hearings, or otherwise obfuscate, delay, and ponder before government spending takes place. But the main attack on the fortress still seems to focus on presumably wasteful government spending with alleged weak economic consequences and definitely superior tax cuts.
Boy oh boy, is this a good day for economy watchers. It would be an entertaining day if the potential consequences weren't so, well, consequential depending on the outcome. Even if the bill passes, there is no guarantee that anything tremendously positive will happen overnight. As the time-worn statement goes, paraphrased, you can lead an economy to a trough overflowing with dollar bills and goodies, but you can't force anyone to participate and partake. Besides, does anyone know for certain where even one dollar of the first $350 B of spending went to? Or whether it is doing any good?
Probably the most successful government stimulus package was the Kennedy-Johnson tax cut of 1963, passed after Kennedy's death. That package is the bill we legions of young Treasury economists were working on. The passage of the bill brought a sharp upward turn from the doldrums of the last few Eisenhower years. Soon, however, LBJ was fighting two wars, the War on Poverty, and the War in Vietnam. Problem: not enough government money to go around, and too much government spending, leading to the Carter years which tapered off after the last two years when Paul Volcker led the Fed into interest rate increases that raised mortgage rates and interest rates into the stratosphere. Surprise, Carter was defeated, and we entered the years of so-called Reagonomics, and long-discredited supply-side economics. Looking for a fix, disciples rallied to salute this presumed miraculous change and sound the death-knell of Keynesian government spending. And each new round of "stimulus" and "perfect paths to economic salvation" provided fodder for rewriting all of the economics texts, all of the economics exams, publishing shelves full of new green-covered government documents, new sections with more reading in economics courses, for research grants to figure out what was what, for master's theses, for doctoral dissertations, for papers in economics journals, for papers at learned economic meetings, for debates between those segments of the economics professions with indubitably "correct" economic views and for neanderthal economists who were indubitably and irretrievably "wrong."
Meanwhile, the clock today is ticking, ticking, ticking. The second hand is moving around quickly, the minute hand less quickly, and the hour hand is creeping, creeping, creeping toward the vote. Both sides are lined up with steely jaws and righteous fervor like the kids in high school who fought over whether Fords or Chevies were better cars, or whether Farmall or John Deere were better tractors. There was no give, no compassion. Each side was 100% correct. No room for error. And you may get beat up if your daddy had the wrong tractor or car. The White House is hunkered down. The Dow is up a bit. Both of my teams, BYU and the Utah Jazz got beat last night by narrow margins. People are buying huggies by the millions and looking like zombies from a cult film. I have seen the Matlock rerun today about fifteen times and can recite the lines ahead of time. I have six friends on Facebook. The sun is shining in St. George Utah. And the clock is ticking. We will soon learn the outcome. Then we will have something new to write about tomorrow. Have a nice day.