Keynes Was Really A Conservative, Not a Socialist

Bruce Bartlett sets the history straight.  Contrary to today’s populist political rhetoric from right-wing, so-called conservative politicians, Keynes, and Keynesian economics is anything BUT socialist.  In fact, Keynes sought to save free-market, private-property capitalism from itself.   Follow the link for the complete story.  Here’s an excerpt:

Those on the right have been making this same argument ever since British economist John Maynard Keynes popularized the idea of using budget deficits to stimulate growth in his 1936 book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. For this reason, Keynes, even more so than Karl Marx, is the principal bête noire of free market economists. They believe governments should never do anything to counteract economic downturns. Consequently, they must implicitly believe that all recessions are the result of massive and simultaneous failures by private businesses and workers who must therefore bear all the costs of adjustment. By opposing government intervention, free market economists are saying that it either made no mistakes or should do nothing to fix those it may have made.

What Keynes understood is that governments bear primary responsibility for recessions. In really severe downturns, such as we suffered in the 1930s and are suffering today, government action is essential to turn the economy around; the private sector simply can’t do it on its own. He also understood that democratic societies cannot long tolerate high levels of unemployment. At some point, people will jettison capitalism for some sort of socialism, which would threaten democracy as well.

via Keynes Was Really A Conservative – Forbes.com.

Why We Really Need to End the Empire: “We Can’t Cut Spending – Forbes.com”

Bruce Bartlett explains why a “balanced budget” for the US federal government is an impossibility.  Unfortunately, most people who strenously object to the deficit and want a balanced budget simply don’t understand the realities.  They often confuse “millions” and “billions” (it takes 1000 millions to equal a billion).  They further operate from greatly distorted ideas of just where the actual federal spending goes.

Domestic discretionary spending amounted to $485 billion last year. With a deficit last year of $459 billion, we would have had to abolish virtually every single domestic program to have achieved budget balance. That means every penny spent on housing, education, agriculture, highway construction and maintenance, border patrols, air traffic control, the FBI, and every other thing one can think of outside of national defense, Social Security and Medicare.

via We Can’t Cut Spending – Forbes.com.

Unemployment In Michigan – Aug 2009

The unemployment rate in Michigan in August 2009 was 15.2%, up slightly from 15.0% in July, and the same as 15.2% of June.   The good news here for Michiganders is that it appears that it has stablized.  The uptick of 0.2% in one month could easily be noise.  The data are calculated from a stratified random sample survey data.  There’s a margin of error in the estimate of any result.

Nationally, though, it appears that unemployment is still rising.  This and the graph come from Calculated Risk and

from the BLS: Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia reported over-the-month unemployment rate increases, 16 states registered rate decreases, and 7 states had no rate change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the year, jobless rates increased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia reported jobless rates of at least 10.0 percent in August. Michigan continued to have the highest unemployment rate among the states, 15.2 percent. Nevada recorded the next highest rate, 13.2 percent, followed by Rhode Island, 12.8 percent, and California and Oregon, 12.2 percent each. The rates in California, Nevada, and Rhode Island set new series highs.
emphasis added