We have exceeded the Federal Debt limit, and Congress is debating the issue. Speaker Boehner wants to match any increases dollar for dollar with corresponding spending cuts, Majority Leader Reid is holding out for tax increases “on the rich” and big oil.
If this sounds like a broken record, it is. The following is from a thread at Maclectic originally posted in Jan, 2010.
In Fear the Boom and Bust, John Maynard Keynes and F. A. Hayek, two of the great economists of the 20th century, come back to life to attend an economics conference on the economic crisis. Before the conference begins, and at the insistence of Lord Keynes, they go out for a night on the town and sing about why there’s a “boom and bust” cycle in modern economies and good reason to fear it.
Yesterday the Senate approved raising the debt ceiling another 1.9 Trillion across a party-line vote. Had it not passed, the fall-back plan was to approve the 635 Billion already approved by the House. Naturally, raising the ceiling again wouldn’t look good next fall right before the mid-term elections, so our fearless Senate simply doubled down on the ceiling.
Following WWI, two major and opposing “schools” of economics appeared.
The first was known at the time as “classic liberalism” today we know it as the Austrian School. Ludwig Von Mises and F.A Hayek were major proponents. The prime tenets of this economic theory was that individuals, and their contributions can create wealth and add value to society more efficiently with the least amount of government interference and control. The Chicago School which Milton Freidman spear-headed is an off-shoot in a sense of the Austrian School of thought. Today in the US at least, most folks who align with this theory are generally regarded as conservatives in an economic sense. In parts of Europe and academia they are still known as “classic liberals” which should not be confused with the progressive movement.
Second, at about the same time, John Maynard Keynes was developing his progressive economic theories in London. He believed that money or wealth would always be in a constant fixed supply, and that governments could control markets by controlling the money supply. This theory punished producers with excessive taxes, a policy which created a self-fulfilling prophecy, and producers found ways to reduce their output, since punitive taxes also reduced individual incentive to create and produce goods and services.
Keynesian Economics also held that governments could artificially stimulate an economy by pumping up the money supply, also known as printing money. Governments also used such gimmicks to deflate the value of their currency in order to pay international debts at lower than agreed to rates. This is known as monetizing debt. The US, England and Germany all used the Keynesian theory to print money to prop up their respective economies after the Great Depression (in Germany’s case beforehand). The Weimar Republic printed so much currency in order to pay off punitive WWI war-debts that the government finally collapsed which led to the rise of the Third Reich.
Sadly, the Keynesian School was known as gospel in most governments in the West for much of the 20th century with a few exceptions. It is making a strong come-back today. We are monetizing our debt, something that the Chinese and Arabs are not looking fondly upon, since they now hold such a large part of it.
Today, our government is creating the most forceful shift to failed Keynesian theories since the days of FDR and his progressive vision which we are all still paying for today. Governments can not create wealth, they can only confiscate it regardless of the amount of currency they are printing.
It still takes individuals and producers willing to risk, to create and innovate to create wealth, it is not a static target. We should go back to creating an environment which rewards instead of demonizing the risk-takers, and the producers of the world. We will all be richer for it in the long run.