“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Balanced Budget Stimulus

"The essential idea, again, would be to raise taxes and raise expenditures, simply for the duration necessary to push us out of our current bad equilibrium. For plenty of policymakers, the phrase “tax-and-spend” has become a four-letter word, but it might just offer the optimal solution to our present crisis."

There are two facts about our current economic situation that can no longer be denied: Our economy is in desperate need of government stimulus, and our political system won’t abide any increase in our national deficit.

Taken together, the two points seem to bode poorly for the United States. But we shouldn’t be too quick to assume a contradiction. Just because stimulus has traditionally been understood as a function of deficit-spending doesn’t mean that’s how it has to work.

We first have to come to grips with the fact that we need stimulus because we’re facing a problem of inadequate aggregate demand, a concept that we owe to the work of John Maynard Keynes. Keynes pointed out that a national economy can get stuck in a bad equilibrium—as it had in the Great Depression in 1930—where unemployed people really wish to supply their labor to some employer, but employers won’t hire them because they don’t think that the extra product they would make could be sold. Why not? Because of all the unemployed people trying unsuccessfully to supply their labor who can’t afford to buy anything. And why aren’t they working? Because no one will hire them.

That sounds circular, but that was exactly Keynes’ point. The whole depression situation is just an absurd circularity that we get stuck in from time to time, and can stay stuck in for a very long time. The core idea of Keynes’ theory is that there’s no fundamental reason to be in such a weak economy except the fact that we’re in it.

The problem is essentially one of communication: Somehow the unemployed have to communicate—not just in words but in the marketplace—their desire both to supply their labor and also to buy the excess of goods they would produce with the income from that labor. Part of Keynes’ idea, not always explained in the subsequent discussions of the theory, is that what has to be communicated is not any objective facts or information, but an intuition—a sense of confidence, a sense that the worst is over, a sense that the people’s animal spirits are back. If we think confidence is returning, then confidence will return.

The medium through which that communication largely needs to occur is collective action. We need to assert as a nation our will to get out of the bad equilibrium and get moving. And the way to do that is through government stimulus: We need to increase government expenditure for as long as it takes to break out of our rut. And there’s no use denying that those government expenditures will need to increase substantially in order to reduce the unemployment rate measurably.

That brings us to a critical fallacy that has crept into our thinking: We have become habituated to the idea that Keynesian fiscal stimulus has to take the form of deficit spending. After a credit downgrade by S&P, there’s a strong argument to make that the U.S. government is in no position to make a massive further increase in the national debt—but that's not an argument against stimulus as such. The fallacy is to think that stimulus necessarily needs to run up the national debt.

In reality, stimulus can easily take a balanced budget form: The government can simply raise taxes and raise expenditures by the same amount. The idea that balanced budget increases could save an economy stuck in a bad equilibrium goes back to the work of economists Walter Salant and Paul Samuelson in the 1940s, and it’s been taught in introductory economics courses ever since, though somehow it has been absent from public discussion of the current economic situation. Salant and Samuelson argued that in a very weak economy the balanced budget expenditure increases would translate into a one-for-one increase in national income.

In fact, the returns on a balanced budget stimulus are likely to be even greater than that. If the government raises taxes to hire the unemployed, then the unemployed who now get jobs will likely quickly spend all the money they earn on new consumption, since they have been strapped and now have jobs. The currently employed, who will see their taxes go up, will likely not cut their expenditures as much because they are habituated to their current level of consumption. And it is unlikely that a balanced budget stimulus would “crowd out” private expenditures on goods and services by pushing up interest rates. The Fed has already committed itself to keeping interest rates at zero until 2013.

The big problem with balanced budget stimulus is political, namely that there is a huge opposition to tax increases right now, primarily among Republicans. But their resistance might be softened if they were made aware that a balanced-budget stimulus would not lower average after-tax income: Every dollar of increased taxes could go toward giving someone extra income. (Though it's true that the people who would see their taxes increased the most are not likely to be the same people who would see their income increased.) Moreover, any public concerns about the high national debt should easily be allayed by the balanced budget stimulus, as it would probably lower the debt to GDP ratio by raising the denominator (GDP) without increasing the numerator (debt).

The balanced budget stimulus could also be designed in such a way as to avoid substantially increasing the size of the government. People often seem to think that government expenditures on stimulus means hiring people to sit at a desk at a government agency, or to clean up trash in the local national park. But that is not at all the way it has to be.

In enacting the stimulus, we could take as our model the National Science Foundation, through which the federal government sponsors scientific research. The government does not hire scientists directly through the NSF. Instead, it makes grants to individual scientists in universities and research facilities. The choice of who gets what grants are largely made by panels of non-government scientists who are called in to help the NSF evaluate the grant proposals. Those procedures could easily be extended beyond scientific research to other industrial areas.

Ultimately, if we did enact a balanced budget stimulus, we would still face the problem of how to find suitable projects to spend government money on. Designing and vetting projects takes time: A single construction project can demand years of planning and permitting. So the first step should be to immediately get going on the planning, even before we've gotten the resolve to do any additional stimulus.

(My colleague Martin Shubik, now an emeritus professor of economics at Yale, has proposed a sustainable solution to this latter problem—namely, a Federal Employment Reserve Authority, a permanent new government agency that would continually be in the business of creating a list of public works projects that are ready to go should there ever be a steep economic downturn. It would resemble a federal agency created in 1941, the Public Work Reserve, which was created to address the risk that the U.S. economy might fall into depression again after the economic stimulus of wartime spending was over.)

The essential idea, again, would be to raise taxes and raise expenditures, simply for the duration necessary to push us out of our current bad equilibrium. For plenty of policymakers, the phrase “tax-and-spend” has become a four-letter word, but it might just offer the optimal solution to our present crisis.


  1. Mint those trillion dollar coins, lock box their use to paying the Federal debt and the associated interest due upon it.

    That would pump $1.2 trillion into the economy

    That would balance the Federal budget

    That would take the Federals out of the debt market. Which would push those that are buying Treasuries into investing that money in other parts of the economy.

    Stimulus without increasing the Federal debt, Constitutionally.

  2. There has been no inflation, well, less than 1% per year during the Great Bi-partisan Recession of the new millennium.

    So the argument that injecting a few trillion into the whirled economy would be inflationary, without much merit. A little wage inflation would be stimulating, at this point.

  3. bwaahahahahahahahhahaha


  4. That is one heck of a solution you offer, boobie.

  5. Next time you take a shot, get a good sight picture, then you won't miss the mark, again.

    You not only missed the target, but taught that wolf a lesson.

  6. Petulance and Palin,
    it goes hand in hand?

  7. If we are to encourage individuaal savings which we are, then we are discouraging consumption. At the same time we need incomes to rise. That implies that we are to produce something that consumers are not to buy. That would have to be capital formation, real capital not speculation on existing assets or more financial high-wire acts.

    Building new highways, bridges will bring in no private money. Obama will take that route of course. A much smarter plan would be tax incentives for refurbishing public and private buildings for adaptive reuse and privatising highways, airports, bridges, anything that can be converted to a user fee or rental.

  8. With the passage of Smoot-Hawley, and the resulting total breakdown of World Trade, the businessman lost 20, or 30% of his "Buyers."

    That is one lesson that actually Has been "learned" from The Great Depression I.

  9. The only infrastructure program that makes sense to me, right now, is to build a few thousand ethanol refineries.

  10. Glad to see you are coming around, as to the privatization of our National Forests, Deuce.

    That the Federals control over 20% of the real estate in the United States, and manage it poorly, something that we can "hope" to "change".

  11. And, all that would be required would be some tax incentives, loan guarantees, and mandates for use of the product.

  12. Put a Million people to work in Good-Paying, "Real" Jobs.

    Lower the Cost of our Transportation Fuel.

    Keep that $Billion/Day that we send overseas in the Local Communities.

    Greatly increase Local Commerce and Tax Revenues to Local, State, and Federal Governments.

    Take a Million Families Off Unemployment, Food Assistance, Medicaid, etc.

    Bring our Trade Balance to a reasonable level.

    Improve the value of the Dollar.

  13. In the meantime we wouldn't be paying farmers over a Billion Dollars/Yr NOT to plant 30 Million Acres.

  14. In the meantime I'm guessing the drawdown of oil from our "Strategic" Petroleum Reserve is just about complete.

    Hence, the rise in oil prices, today, in spite of a large addition to "Commercial" Inventory.

  15. Jon Huntsman:

    The former Utah governor will reiterate his call for a “revenue-neutral restructuring” that ends loopholes, deductions and tax expenditures in the tax code. He’ll propose consolidating the sprawling system into three individual tax brackets — 8 percent, 14 percent and 23 percent — and reduce the corporate rate to 25 percent. Huntsman will also recommend eliminating the capital gains and dividends taxes, as well alternate minimum tax.

    “The president believes that we can tax and spend and regulate our way to prosperity,” he plans to say at the Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, according to excerpts released by his campaign. “We cannot. We must compete our way to prosperity.”

    Taxes is just one of his speech’s four pillars. Huntsman also plans to tackle for regulatory reform, energy independence and free trade — areas that will aid the revitalization of American manfucturing.

    “We need American entrepreneurs not only thinking of products like the iPhone or Segway; we need American workers building those products,” he will say. “It’s time for ‘Made in America’ to mean something again.”

    Read more:

  16. Print platinum trillion dollars coins.


    Can't get over it, sorry.

    I see rat is frustrated already again this colder morining.

    This cold front will move the doves south.


  17. Why in hell would you mint two or three trillion dollar coins, when you could mint one two or three trillion dollar coin???

    Ya inflating the dollar by 1000% sounds like something that china would do!!!!!!!!!!

    Go Ron Paul 2012!!!!!

    Reminds me of the Simpsons' episode where Mr. Burns steals the trillion dollar bill during WWII and Homer later tries to use it in a vending machine.


  18. Not colder, here.

    There is no frustration, just a remedy.

    One that would treat bankers like crack dealers.

    One that would stimulate the economy, without increasing Federal debt.

    One that is Constitutional.

    One that would be better than tax cuts at increasing the size of the economic pie.

    One, that when folded into part of a combined economic package encompassing Mr Huntsman's four pillars, would revitalize the economy.

    That's where the jobs would come from. Increased economic activity within the United States.

  19. Sure, one coin would be sufficient.

    What you focus upon, not a detail of importance.

  20. veritas723
    hell... why not mint exactly enough coinage money, to generate enough interest in 1 hour to pay off the debt. and don't tell anyone about it until after the hour is up. then ... disolve the moola. pay off the nation debt, and wiz bang. it's miller time!

    @veritas723 - I'm not sure about the rest but I think it should be miller time regardless. It's 5pm after all.

    One trillion dollars buys a lot of bling.


  21. ryward
    You gotta be kidding right? This is the exact reason Brazil's currency is worth one million times less than it was in the 1920s.

    etc, and on and on...


  22. The Federal interest payment is now $1.2 trillion per year.

    There is a macro economic argument easily made that the value of equity lost in the real estate debacle should/could be re-injected into the economy.

    Minting the interest payments on the Federal debt would accomplish that.

  23. Brazil does not represent 25% of global GDP.

    Brazil does not have the whirled standard currency.

    Nor did the Weimar Republic.

    Congress could authorize the program for one or two years. Then the new Congress would be able to authorize a new minting or not.

    We are in a period of low inflation, closer to deflation than hyper-inflation.

  24. What should be on the trillion dollar coin?
    07-31-2011, 02:16 PM
    I'm sure many of you have heard by now of the proposed scheme to mint a pair of trillion-dollar coins to keep the government from defaulting should Congress fail to reach a deal on the debt ceiling.

    Anyway what should go on these coins? I'm leaning toward a picture on the front of Dr. Evil with his pinky to his mouth, and on the back the words "One TRILLION Dollars" in big letters
    07-31-2011, 02:52 PM
    One should have a picture of a donkey taking a dump on a map of the US. The other an elephant doing the same thing.
    07-31-2011, 02:59 PM
    They should be a couple of lead slugs, with "1 trillion buckaroos" imprinted on the outside.

    To get them into circulation, they should go down the street to the 7-11 and buy a large slushy.

    "Can you break a trillion?"
    07-31-2011, 02:59 PM
    A fairy on one side (like tinkerbell, but not, due to copyright issues) - clap your hands if you believe in the value of the dollar!
    The Titanic on the other (sinking)
    DJ Motorbike
    07-31-2011, 03:40 PM
    I would inscribe the words "Don't Panic" in a friendly font on one side and a whale and a pot of flowers on the other.
    07-31-2011, 03:41 PM
    I would go with the traditional pig with a tophat, cigar and monacle on one side and a crumbling financial looking building on the other.
    Drain Bead
    07-31-2011, 03:43 PM
    The Monopoly guy.
    Happy Lendervedder
    07-31-2011, 03:43 PM
    Montogomery Burns and Rupert Murdoch.
    07-31-2011, 03:49 PM
    Ed McMahon on one side and HiYooo!! on the reverse
    07-31-2011, 03:56 PM
    A fairy on one side (like tinkerbell, but not, due to copyright issues) - clap your hands if you believe in the value of the dollar!
    The Titanic on the other (sinking)

    I like the Titanic idea, but the other side should have deck chairs.

    How about Nero fiddling on one side and WDC burning on the other?
    07-31-2011, 04:04 PM
    GW Bush on one side,

    everybody who voted for him on the other.

    07-31-2011, 04:10 PM
    In God We Trust

    (on the flip side)

    All Others Pay Cash
    Digital is the new Analog
    07-31-2011, 04:14 PM
    07-31-2011, 04:34 PM
    Uncle Sam on one side, pulling out his pockets to show they are empty.

    A Predator drone on the other side.
    07-31-2011, 04:35 PM
    In response to the article in the OP, My movie idea would be something like LOTR, only with the One Coin instead of the One Ring. "Three gold dollars were given to the upper class, wealthiest of all, seven quarters were given to middle class, great learners and crafters in their own right, and nine. Nine pennies were given to the lower class, who above all most desire wealth. Yet all of them were betrayed, for in secret, in the minting presses of the US Treasury, the Dark Lord Obama minted a Master Coin, and into it he poured his malice, his cruelty, and his will to dominate all life."
    07-31-2011, 08:10 PM
    So many possibilities:

    -Scrooge McDuck
    -P.T. Barnum
    -Richard Nixon (with the caption "I am not a crook")
    -or you could officially name the coin a "Continental", and picture John Hanson, first presiding officer elected under the Articles of Confederation.
    07-31-2011, 09:28 PM
    ...the Dark Lord Obama...

    You racist!

    Little Nemo
    07-31-2011, 09:46 PM
    07-31-2011, 09:48 PM
    DO NOT LOSE THlS COINAw man, now you tell me! It was just here!

    :: starts searching in Oval Office couch cushions ::


  25. I've got to go mow a lawn now.


  26. Why in hell would you mint two or three trillion dollar coins, when you could mint one two or three trillion dollar coin???

    Cuz a three trillion dollar coin is as queer as a football bat.

  27. .

    Minting the coins would make sense in addressing a specific problem, a problem like having a bunch of whack jobs in Congress failing to approve the debt ceiling for spending they have committed to in the past.

    In other words, a crazy solution for a crazy problem.

    However in reality it would amount to the Treasury printing up a few trillion cash (not currently legal due to the amount of currency allowed in circulation) and depositing it in their account at the FED. The effect would be the same also.

    Those who say inflation is not a problem should reflect on the trend in the CPI. In January, the inflation rate was 1.63%. Since January, it has risen each month. The July rate (the latest released by BLS) was at 3.63%.

    Inflation has been low, even negative for 2009-2010; however, that couldn't last forever. Demand was down and still is. Companies were able to hold down prices because of cost savings and productivity. But in the absence of top line growth that can't go on forever especially given rising input costs.


  28. Is there room enough in this bar for two people named Doug? Mostly I just peek in the window and watch the brawls that break out. That's entertainment!

  29. Somebody needs to take on Doug once in a while, he gets mostly a free pass.

    You be that man.

    Doug v. Dougman


  30. The Iranian foreign minister publicly said that the Assad regime should respond to the legitimate political grievances of the citizens. Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbo leader in Levanon, also spoke out on the need for all parties to work together to resolve the tensions in Syria peacefully.

    (Translation, after you puke in your mouth a little bit: Iran and Hezbollah recognize that Bashir Assad is toast)

  31. Gasoline is selling at the pump for $3.61/gal. On this date last year it was $2.67/gal. That's a 35% Increase.

    There's your inflation.

  32. O Solyndra

    Would make a nice name for a girl, though.


  33. If you had twin girls you could name 'em Solyndra and Lunyndra. Or, maybe, Lulyndra. Or Lunalyndra.


  34. We've all heard it before, but from Dale--

    In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinborough, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

    "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."

    "The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

    From bondage to spiritual faith;
    From spiritual faith to great courage;
    From courage to liberty;
    From liberty to abundance;
    From abundance to complacency;
    From complacency to apathy;
    From apathy to dependence;
    From dependence back into bondage."
    The Obituary follows:

    Born 1776, Died 2012
    It doesn't hurt to read this several times.

    Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul , Minnesota , points out some interesting facts concerning the last Presidential election:

    Number of States won by: Obama: 19 McCain: 29
    Square miles of land won by: Obama: 580,000 McCain: 2,427,000
    Population of counties won by: Obama: 127 million McCain: 143 million
    Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Obama: 13.2
    McCain: 2.1

    Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory McCain won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country.
    Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low income tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."
    Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

    If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegal's - and they vote - then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years.

    If you are in favor of this, then by all means, delete this message.
    If you are not, then pass this along to help everyone realize just how much is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom.
    This is truly scary! Of course we are not a democracy, we are a Constitutional Republic . Someone should point this out to Obama. Of course we know he and too many others pay little attention to The Constitution. There couldn't be more at stake than in Nov 2012.
    If you are as concerned as I am please pass this along.


  35. It wasn't "Tyler;" it was "Tytler" (I think.)

    And, there's no record that he, actually, ever said it.

  36. I agree with Rufus, I think it's more or less made up, though maybe it contains some truth.


  37. Besides in 1887 I doubt very much was really known about the fall of the Athenian Republic 2,000 years ago.

    I just posted it cause I'm waiting for a phone call.

    Wanted to see the response.


  38. .

    Bob, why post this stuff?

    Most of it is BS anyway but take a look at these:

    Number of States won by: Obama: 19 McCain: 29


    Obama: 28 McCain: 22

    Population of counties won by: Obama: 127 million McCain: 143 million


    Stupid on it's face since it presumes to show McCain won the popular vote. Rediculous.

    Obama: 70 million (52.9%)
    McCain: 60 million (45.7%)


  39. I admit it Quirk, it was a bad choice.

    I'll do better.


  40. After $535 million in government loans and kiss by “The Won”, ain’t no sunshine, now it’s gone.

    Solyndra to Declare Bankruptcy

  41. I am not for the privatization of natural federal lands per se, but if federal lands are nothing more than tree farms, mineral and grazing land, then they should be reconsidered.

  42. There's your inflation.

    Wed Aug 31, 02:50:00 PM EDT

    And look at food. Of course, these are not part of the inflation equation.

  43. .


    (In case Trish lurks by on her way to Baloon Juice)


  44. U.S. photovoltaic (PV) installations in 2011 will rise a spectacular 166 percent to a total of 2.4 gigawatts (GW), with California leading the country in the amount of power derived from renewable solar energy, according to a new IHS iSuppli Photovoltaic Market Tracker report, from information and analysis provider IHS.

    The number of U.S. PV installations this year is projected to climb to approximately 49,000-up from 39,000 in 2010. Of the 2.4GW in solar power expected to be installed this year, ground installations will contribute approximately 1.4GW, commercial installations 710 megawatts (MW) and residential installations 270MW.

    "Thanks to the implementation of many utility-scale projects this year, the U.S. growth rate in 2011 will be more than double the 80 percent expansion level of 2010, when photovoltaic (PV) installations amounted to just slightly over 900MW," said Mike Sheppard, analyst for photovoltaics at IHS.

    Solar Up 166%

  45. I had to google this to make sure I remembered it correctly. Solyndra made an unorthodox "Cylinder" Design.

    Too Expensive, not enough benefit.

    All Different Ideas aren't "Great."


  46. Food is up, but, mostly from high petroleum (shipping, and packaging) costs. For instance, the wrapper (petroleum-based) adds more cost to a loaf of bread than the wheat content.)

    Also, "labor for processing" is over 50% of the cost of food. Tyson, Hormel, etc had to fire a lot of their poorly paid illegals, and increase their wages a bit.

  47. This one trillion coin idea gets A+ for ingenuity but an F for Constitutional propriety (in spirit certainty, even if technically compliant).

    Further, any such ingenious temporary expedients simply
    (a) temporarily take pressure off the leading elected officials to resolve the debt ceiling impasse,
    (b) undermine confidence that the fiscal affairs of the US national government will be conducted in a manner that respects due legislative process,
    (c) leaves the US in an even more untenable fiscal state in the near future when the time bought by the use of the dodgy expedient step elapses, and
    (d) further poisons an already toxic partisan political environment (the very environment within which the ultimate appropriate resolution of the debt ceiling issue must be devised and implemented).

  48. (In case Trish lurks by on her way to Baloon Juice)

    TRIPOLI, Libya — Rebel fighters believe they have cornered Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in the desert town of Bani Walid, only 150 miles from the capital, and have called on him to give up peacefully to avoid further bloodshed, a top official of the transition government said Wednesday.

    The dirty rat. Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Muammar?

  49. I told him to go to Ghat.
    Now he's cornered.
    The Dirty Rat.


  50. While not disagreeing on the role petroleum plays in inflation, despite the refusal of the government to add it to the equation used to determine inflation, food is consumed by everyone in the world - daily if it can be had. When in the US more corn goes into ethanol than cattle feedlots, the substitution effect is going to make a tremendous impact. Consider: Processed food manufactures, who used to fill their wares with unhealthy portions of cornstrach, have suddenly discovered the virtues of "real" sugar. (I don't want to know what would be "unreal" or "unnatural" sugar.) Long story short, grains have, on the whole, doubled in price over the past 18 months. Naturally, Uncle Sam also conveniently overlooks the rising cost of food when calculating inflation.

  51. The National Forests here are still under the multiple use idea, I believe. Interest groups fight around about what's the best use. The logging is much changed, much better environmentally. They don't put roads by rivers anymore. Hooray. The forestry is sustainble yield, no more out in a year than grows in a year.
    There is a whole industry of law suit folk who challenge every last rule. So the federal judges run much of the show. The wildlife are given there proper due regard - until we get into a totally asinine situation like bringing in a foreign species that kills all the elk. Big fight ensues.

    All in all it's not that bad the way it is being run now, IMHO.

    There is a bid process on all the extractions, and special permits can be given for, maybe a hot springs.

    Hikers allowed everywhere, hunters, huckleberry pickers, lovers, dope smokers....

    Anything but privatization. Who wants No Trespassing Signs?

    Very few
    The well to do only


  52. Government money is just another tax. Regulations are also a tax. Taxes are a cost of doing business (gardening), and if the cost of doing business is too high, labor (capital) will seek its highest return somewhere else. For a brief period, you had full employment (gardening and gov regulators [buildings and their supplies]), but the fundamental income generator for the economy was driven away by the additional costs via the taxes of gov money and regulation. The ability of the gardens to produce income shrank (the pv value of the future cash flows became less), which is another way to say they deflated, then we had to let gov employees go (like we see now), the garden asset values hit rock bottom, the gov money left in the economy lost its value resulting in massive inflation because no more goods could be produce, unemployment is high, nobody has anything, and you have reached abject poverty.

    Government is the absolute worst entity in society to create long term prosperity. Its incentive structure induces it to consume, not produce. Without production, there is no wealth, and with no wealth all you can hope for is basic survival.

    If you think about it, the same arguments that have been used in the past to control religion are the same arguments that are used to control economies. The tribal chief has the medicine man, the nobility of Europe had the church, and our ruling government/corporate class has the university Phd intellectual. The medicine man shakes his bag of bones and declares the people better follow the chief or they will all die, the church declared the people better follow the king or they will all die, and the Phd intellectual declares we better follow the government or the economy will collapse.

  53. Actually, you just use the starch for ethanol, and return the rest of the kernel to the cows as DDGS. Once you do that, the cows are back on top of the "corn use lottery."

    Then, we Export another couple of Billion Bushels to Japan, China, Mexico, and here an there, Also to be used to fatten up cows for rich people.

  54. You need governments to do BIG things. Hoover Dam. TVA. The Levee System. Missile Defense. The Interstate Highway System.

    Note: These are all useful, long-term, productive, and, most of all, IMPORTANT enterprises.

  55. After nine months, the Dow is positive!!!!
    Meanwhile, back at the silo…
    Corn YTD
    Soybeans YTD
    Rice YTD

  56. This is two straight years of Too Hot, Too Dry, Growing Seasons.

    It was at about this point last year that we began to realize that, not only were our yields going to be down significantly, China's crop was going to be a disaster.

    Let's hope China doesn't shoot craps two years in a row, also.

    The interesting thing is how little the cost of commodities like corn, and wheat, actually impact the costs of the foods you buy. Ex: The cost of the high fructose corn syrup in a two-liter coke might be up from $0.03 to $0.06.

    Or, the cost of a box of corn flakes might be up a nickel.

    A 16 oz T-Bone will represent about 2.6 lbs of corn, so it might be up thirteen, or fourteen cents.

    Pretty small stuff in the greater scheme of things, really.

  57. .

    Pretty small stuff in the greater scheme of things, really.

    Products that use Corn

    Adhesives (glues, pastes, mucilages, gums, etc.)
    Antibiotics (penicillin)
    Asbestos insulation
    Automobiles (everything on wheels)
    xxx- cylinder heads
    xxx- ethanol - fuel & windshield washer fluid
    xxx- spark plugs
    xxx- synthetic rubber finishes
    xxx- tires
    Baby food
    Batteries, dry cell
    Breakfast cereals
    Canned vegetables
    Carbonated beverages
    Cheese spreads
    Chewing gum
    Chocolate products
    Coatings on wood, paper & metal
    Colour carrier in paper & textile, printing
    Corn chips
    Corn meal
    C.M.A. (calcium magnesium acetate)
    Crayon and chalk
    Degradable plastics
    Dessert powders
    Dextrose (intravenous solutions, icing sugar)
    Disposable diapers
    Edible oil
    Ethyl and butyl alcohol
    Explosives - firecrackers
    Finished leather
    Flour & grits Frozen foods
    Fuel ethanol
    Gypsum wallboard
    Ink for stamping prices in stores
    Instant coffee & tea
    Insulation, fibreglass
    James, jellies and preserves
    Latex paint
    Leather tanning
    Livestock feed
    Malted products
    Mustard, prepared
    Paper board, (corrugating, laminating, cardboard)
    Paper manufacturing
    Paper plates & Cups
    Peanut butter
    Pharmaceuticals - The Life Line of The Hospital
    Potato chips
    Rugs, carpets
    Salad dressings
    Shaving cream & lotions
    Shoe polish
    Soaps and cleaners
    Soft drinks
    Starch & glucose (over 40 types)
    Tacos, tortillas
    Wheat bread

    Of the 10,000 items in a typical grocery store a full 2500 of them use corn in some part of their processing or packaging.


  58. The point, Q, is: If a Two Liter of coke has a nickel's worth of corn (in the form of corn syrup,) how much corn do you suppose is in a "spark plug?" And, how much has the increase in the price of corn affected the sales price of said "spark plug?"

  59. Having said all that, this does appear to be a good time to cut back on paying those Landowners NOT to Plant those 30 Million Acres.

  60. I paid $0.68 for a can of corn at Walmart the other day. If I'm not mistaken that's the exact same price I paid there a year ago (when corn was considerably cheaper.)

    Of course, that's "sweet corn," not field corn (that you feed to cattle, and use for ethanol;) but sweet corn prices tend to rise, and fall pretty much in concert with field corn prices, I think.

  61. A repeat public indecency offender with a "fascination for plastic" was behind bars in Ohio Wednesday after allegedly having sex with a neighbor's pink, inflatable pool raft.


    Tobergta has been arrested at least five times for similar offenses and his grandmother tearfully told The Enquirer that the family has tried to seek mental care for him.

    "He has a lot of mental problems and he's always had a fascination for plastic," she said. "That's just it.

  62. The idea of minting coinage does not violate any concept found in the Constitution.

    It does reject the principles that are the cornerstone of the Federal Reserve Act.

    The idea that central bankers can manage the monetary policies of the United States was debated and rejected by the Founders.

    They decided that Congress was best suited to that task, being answerable to the People and the several States.

    The Progressive Republicans decreed that the Founders were wrong.

    Now, a hundred years later, the leading Republican in the Presidential race questions the wisdom of those progressive Republican reforms.

  63. A tape purportedly made by another Khadafy son, Saadi, broadcast on al Arabiya television, said he had officially been given the power to negotiate with the rebel forces.

    Saadi, referring to a phone call with Abdel Hakim Belhadj, the chief of anti-Khadafy forces in Tripoli, said, "We were talking about negotiations based on ending bloodshed," Sky News reported.

    "We acknowledge that they (the National Transitional Council) represent a legal party, but we are also the government and a legal negotiating party."

  64. Good News!

    The US will soon have an excuse to quit funding the Palestinian Authority. Things are working out well, in the Levant, better than they have in decades.

    US Palestinian aid could be cut if it continues to seek statehood -

    A movement to cut US aid to the Palestinian Authority if it pursues its application for recognition at the United Nations has gained ground with a bill seeking to block funding to any United Nations agency that supports the Palestinian bid.

  65. Give US an excuse to cut back funding to the entirety of the UN.

    Agency by Agency
    Program by Program.

  66. Whiskey Route Up Kilimanjaro

    Was looking for a "Bud-Light" route but couldn't find one.


  67. The US will soon have an excuse to quit funding the Palestinian Authority. Things are working out well, in the Levant, better than they have in decades.

    Just don't call for a parallel cut of arms aid to the biggest arms exporter in the area or you'll be called a Nazi.

  68. When a person's per diem income is $2.00 or less, a few pennies here and a few pennies there can make the difference between life and death.

    Here in Georgia, peanut production is way down. In part, because of foul weather but also because much acerage has been given to ... corn. It is now predicted that peanut butter may break its previous price record.

    There is simply no way to take this amount of corn out of the food/manufacturering stream and not have that translate into higher prices. There is no argument that the cost of petroleum drawfs the cost of grain, but we don't have to eat 10W-30.

  69. Back in 1991, Boris Yeltsin proposed to then-President George H.W. Bush that the United States acquire Siberia from the collapsing Soviet Union for $2 trillion.

    Well, I deal in land occasionally, and I'd have made that deal.

    Trouble is, I don't recall it, which doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    Mt Rushmore For H.W. Bush


  70. Back in 1991, Boris Yeltsin proposed to then-President George H.W. Bush that the United States acquire Siberia from the collapsing Soviet Union for $2 trillion. President Bush passed on the deal, on the theory that although it was a great deal for the United States (and a history book maker for him personally), it was too destabilizing. It was one thing that the Soviet Union was literally falling apart. It was another thing altogether if that collapse resulted in Siberia becoming the 51st state.

    Damned Bush didn't know the value of an acre, he'd been so far from the fields for so long.

    Plus, we'd a got all the cultural influence from the Siberian shamen too.


  71. Bob,

    Thanks very much for the Kilimanjaro links. It's something I've been wanting to do with my son and has given me another push.

  72. Do it Sam, you're still young. Would be a real thrill.


  73. Wife and I drove up to the top of MaunaKea in our jeep, but that's the extent of my 'mountain climbing'.


  74. Teresita said...
    The US will soon have an excuse to quit funding the Palestinian Authority. Things are working out well, in the Levant, better than they have in decades.

    Just don't call for a parallel cut of arms aid to the biggest arms exporter in the area or you'll be called a Nazi.

    Wonderful fantasy...

    Well Mr T, we all know you distort and lie..

    And we do KNOW Mr T that the only reason we give military aid to Israel is to combat camel fucking zombies... The kind of camel fucking zombies that force women to wear burkas...

    I can see you now, in san fran... at a "queers for palestine" rally...

    I do find interesting that jew hating gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered folk can rally and carry on against israel and support a truly disgusting culture that actually murder women for traveling without a man escort...

    well mr t? you got me stumped....

  75. Yep, I've done Mauna Kea by car.

  76. First time I went to Hawaii I saw Mauna Kea and Haleakala covered in snow, very impressive for a tropical paradise. A little bit like Mt Hermon in Israel, I suppose.

    (And I suppose WiO will take that to be some kind of anti-Semitic smear and call me Mr. T again. It gets old, Fool!)

  77. I do find interesting that jew hating gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered folk can rally and carry on against israel and support a truly disgusting culture that actually murder women for traveling without a man escort...

    Fallacy of Many Questions.

    Do I support Islamic culture? That is the first question you know.

    That brainless crap about "you're either with me or you're with the terrorists" went out with Bush 43. The world is at least sixteen shades of gray.

  78. Mt Shasta

    Mt Borah

    Best we got in Ideehoo.

    Wheeler Peak versus Boundary Peak, Nevada

    They got some long lived trees down that way.


  79. A Bristlecone Pine named Prometheus, which was at least 4,862 years old and the oldest known non-clonal organism, grew here before it was inadvertently cut down in 1964 as part of a research project.


  80. Hera, Hypnos' wife hath given to me Morpheus, son of Nyx, leader of the Oneiroi, and I go off to dormatorio lighted candle in hand and slippers on feet to dream of misty mountain tops.


  81. Israel braces for Palestinian statehood bid at United Nations

    Israel is preparing security forces as well as diplomatic and legal responses for a planned Palestinian bid this month for admission as a state to the United Nations, but officials say they do not expect a major eruption of unrest as a result of the move.

    Despite intensive Israeli diplomatic efforts to head off U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state, a senior official involved in shaping the Israeli response said the government is resigned to the General Assembly endorsing the move later this month.

    Israel readies for Palestinian statehood bid at United Nations
    .“We’re aware that we have very little ability to prevent it, because it’s the U.N., so we have to learn to live with it,” said the official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity to discuss the subject freely.

    He described the United Nations as a body with an automatic anti-Israeli majority.

    The official said Israel was preparing for fallout from the U.N. vote on three fronts: in the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and possibly on Israel’s borders, in the diplomatic arena and in international forums...

    Palis Seek UN Vote on Statehood


  82. .

    Independent panel warns failure to make contracting reforms risks more wartime waste and fraud

    The U.S. has lost billions of dollars to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan and stands to repeat that in future wars without big changes in how the government awards and manages contracts for battlefield support and reconstruction projects, independent investigators said Wednesday.

    The Wartime Contracting Commission urged Congress and the Obama administration to quickly put in place its recommendations to overhaul the contracting process and increase accountability. The commission even suggested that the joint House-Senate debt reduction committee take a close look at the proposals.

    The bipartisan commission, created by Congress in 2008, estimated that at least $31 billion and as much as $60 billion has been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning, inadequate competition and corruption. “I personally believe that the number is much, much closer to $60 billion,” Zakheim said...

    Fraud, Waste, And Abuse


  83. .

    “It is disgusting to think that nearly a third of the billions and billions we spent on contracting was wasted or used for fraud,” McCaskill said...


  84. .

    How do you turn your normal Republican leader into a racist in three easy stages?

    Let's see: On Aug. 19, Reihan Salam writes a post saying that conservatives are "overwhelmingly white" in a country much less so, that some feel that immigrants from Bangladesh or from Mexico may not share their values, and that these voters, most over 50, "are looking for champions ... people who are unafraid to fight for the America they remember" because they have "a sense that the country they grew up in is fading away."

    This is seen by Matthew Yglesias at Think Progress and linked to a statement made by House Speaker John Boehner over a year ago that, under the Democrats, the country he grew up in was being "snuffed out."

    Boehner was born in 1949. Yglesias takes this to mean Boehner pines for the 1950s. Yglesias looks back at the things that defined those years, finds things no one liked (the Cold War, the fear of nuclear warfare), things liberals liked (high tax rates, strong unions), but little to strike a conservative's fancy, except for one thing: Jim Crow.

    This means Boehner is really a racist, according to Yglesias. "From a non-bigoted conservative point of view, what is there really to miss?" he asks us. "It's difficult for me to evade the conclusion that on an emotional level, conservative nostalgics are primarily driven by regret at the loss of social privilege by white men."

    Toss this ball to Isaac Chotiner at the New Republic, who comes up with this: Concede Boehner and others like other things in mid-1950s America. They are still racist, as they want to return to an era that had segregation -- no matter what other good things it held...

    How To Define a Bigot

    I am not familiar with Salam and Chotiner; however, Yglasias is a dick and judging from their comments, the other two guys appear to share his dickdom.



  85. .

    The New Resentment of the Poor

    In a decade of frenzied tax-cutting for the rich, the Republican Party just happened to lower tax rates for the poor, as well. Now several of the party’s most prominent presidential candidates and lawmakers want to correct that oversight and raise taxes on the poor and the working class, while protecting the rich, of course.

    These Republican leaders, who think nothing of widening tax loopholes for corporations and multimillion-dollar estates, are offended by the idea that people making less than $40,000 might benefit from the progressive tax code. They are infuriated by the earned income tax credit (the pride of Ronald Reagan), which has become the biggest and most effective antipoverty program by giving working families thousands of dollars a year in tax refunds. They scoff at continuing President Obama’s payroll tax cut, which is tilted toward low- and middle-income workers and expires in December...

    GOP Wants to Raise Taxes on the Poor. The Wealthy? Not so much.


  86. A human foot in a sneaker has washed up in Vancouver -- the eighth such grisly find in British Columbia in the last four years.


    One washed up foot has been linked by DNA to a suspected suicide, while two found in Richmond, British Columbia, have been confirmed as belonging to the same woman.

    Police said they do not suspect foul play and believe that the feet detached naturally in the water.

  87. The very first ever Blonde GUY joke..... And well worth the wait!

    An Irishman , a Mexican and a Blonde Guy were doing construction work
    on scaffolding on the 20th floor of a building.

    They were eating lunch and the Irishman said, 'Corned beef and cabbage!
    If I get corned beef and cabbage one more time for lunch, I'm going to
    jump off this building.'

    The Mexican opened his lunch box and exclaimed, 'Burritos again! If I
    get burritos one more time I'm going to jump off, too.'

    The blonde opened his lunch and said, 'Bolognaagain! If I get a bologna
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    The next day, the Irishman opened his lunch box, saw corned beef and
    cabbage, and jumped to his death.

    The Mexican ope ned his lunch, saw a burrito, and jumped, too.

    The blonde guy opened his lunch, saw the bologna and jumped to his
    death as well.

    At the funeral, the Irishman's wife was weeping. She said, 'If I'd
    known how really tired he was of corned beef and cabbage, I never would
    have given it to him again!'

    The Mexican's wife also wept and said, 'I could have given him tacos or
    enchiladas! I didn't realize he hated burritos so much.'

    Everyone turned and stared at the blonde's wife. The blonde's wife

    'Don't look at me. The idiot makes his own lunch.'

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