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Alan Binder Hearts Government Spending


Rarely do I subject myself to liberal editorials, but occasionally I glance at Alan Binder’s column since he is one of the few liberals to grace the venerable opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. The Princeton professor is the quintessential, arrogant, ruling class elite, with a venomous dislike of all things private and a blind love of all things public. Binder’s never met a redistribution program he did not endorse, nor a spending cut he did not mock.

Binder’s latest hit piece attacks the GOP for wanting to reduce government spending. In particular, he argues that the evil GOP perpetuates a false notion that government overspending is bad for jobs. First of all, Binder makes the laughably unprovable assumption that the Obama “stimulus” created “1.3 million net new jobs”. Even if we take the professor at his word (I know that’s a stretch but bear with me), these 1.3 million fantasy jobs come at a cost of $600 billion (his figure). THAT’S $460K PER JOB. And what types of jobs did the “stimulus” net us? Brain Surgeons? Captains of industry? Think municipal workers or SEIU jobs where they get paid to protest against the GOP Governors we elect. Sounds like a good ROI to me, professor.

Binder makes no distinction between public and private sector jobs, as if the Federal Government could solve our economic ills merely by employing 20 million Americans to dig holes in their backyards and refill them. Does the professor really believe that government jobs are on par with value creating private sector jobs? In fact, the entire notion of value creation seems missing from Binder’s repertoire. Value–or wealth–is created when production and trade take place voluntarily so both parties gain.

Government transactions are different. Once we depart from the necessary (and constitutional) activities that benefit all Americans and enter the Binder’s dream world of redistribution, transactions are no longer voluntary. They are forced by threat of violence, and we cannot in any real sense say that value is created. But far be it from me to point out a basic fact of micro-economics to the learned professor. Binder is blind. It’s as if he is a kind of idiot savant, skilled in rhetoric and armed only with the largely debunked theories of his hero, John Maynard Keynes, but utterly ignorant and always wrong about public policies that he blathers on about.

Back in July of 2008, Binder wrote adoringly this about the famously disastrous Cash for Clunkers program.

“Economists and members of Congress are now on the prowl for new ways to stimulate spending in our dreary economy. Here’s my humble suggestion: ‘Cash for Clunkers,’ the best stimulus idea you’ve never heard of….If done successfully, it holds the promise of performing a remarkable public policy trifecta — stimulating the economy, improving the environment and reducing income inequality all at the same time.” (emphasis mine)

And when (not if, but when) his prescriptions fail wildly, as was the case with Cash for Clunkers, Binder always finds new collectivist schemes to promote. The professor is, of course, a big fan of the Obamacare and of the Carbon Tax–remember, he’s never met a redistribution program he did not endorse, nor a spending cut he did not mock. In January of 2011, long after the failure of Cash for Clunkers, Binder writes about the “Miracle Cure of a Carbon Tax“.

Everyone knows that CO2 emissions are the major cause of global climate change, that climate change poses a clear and present danger to our planet, and that the U.S. contributes a huge share of global emissions. Up to now, our country has done approximately nothing to curb CO2 emissions. A stiff tax would make a world of difference.

Everyone knows this? I guess the professor is correct if by everyone, he means ruling class elites of government, academia, media, and Hollywood, together with the state controlled companies that stood to make tens of billions off the plot. Yep, the professor has determined that the science is settled. Who are we to object to another stiff tax; this time a multi-trillion global redistribution scheme? And even if the professor is wrong, what’s a few trillion dollars taken from American taxpayers and given to those in need around the world in the name of social justice (of course Al Gore and Goldman Sachs will get their share as well)?

I do not claim to be an expert in economics but I have enough real world experience and have read enough economics to know that Hayek was both an intellectual and moral superior to Keynes. Hayek recognized the power and the sanctity of the individual and the folly and immorality of taking control away from the individual and giving it to the elites in the name of the collective good. Yet Binder always plays the moral superiority card when pushing for his hair brained, collectivist policies. The professor, along with his comrade Paul Krugman and so many other socialist elites, are utterly ignorant as to the moral dimension of redistribution. By what authority do they propose the looting of some to pay for their own notions of social justice? Perhaps the professor would have done better studying a bit more Adam Smith and Hayek and a bit less Keynes and Marx.

Binder treats the world as if it were a SimCity game. All we need to do to make things better is to take a little from these folks and give it to these guys. Move decision making from individuals to the elites…a stiff tax here…some confiscation there…some tax credits for those who play nicely…then sit back and watch the collective grow. And if that doesn’t work, no worries. There are so many other ways to play God with the rest of us.

This article also appears on The John Galt List blog today.


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