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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Conservatives sure do have a knack for walking straight into punches.

More like running headlong into stationary fists.

Is monitoring volcanoes supposed to help the economy? Who's been paying for it up to now? Bobby may be a conservative but at least he has the balls to question authority, like liberals used to do, remember?

I appreciate cogent points even if they are criticizing one whose ideology i typically agree with... but i tire of the comments that all to often follow taking broad brush swipes at the object of the criticism, as if one side of the political spectrum has a monopoly on "walking into punches" and "stationary fists"... i'm not above name-calling and ridicule of liberals, but i certainly have no illusions that they alone have cornered the market on misstatements, malaprops and flat out idiocy...


You ask if monitoring volcanoes is supposed to help the economy. The answer is that Keynesians believe that government spending helps the economy by taking up the slack for falling consumption. The type of spending doesn't really matter. Increased spending picks up the slack for idle capacity.

You can argue, as the Austrians and others do (e.g., Sachs and Mankiw), that this only delays the pain, but no economist argues that increased spending doesn't stimulate the economy, at least temporarily. If you've read enough of my posts, you would see that I don't pretend to have the answer.

But, the next question, if you buy into the approach, is what kind of spending is best. What is not in dispute is that spending on public goods is probably the least problematic.

Sullivan quotes Krugman on this here.

More to the point, though, is that I was struck by Jindal's appeal to the anti-science wing of the conservative movement. Read the text of his speech and you will probably see that he was ridiculing volcano monitoring as if it was some silly, useless endeavor. I think Jindal is a smart guy who knows better than that. But with his eyes on the national office, he is pandering to the that anti-science wing, the dogmatic conservative, rather than the thinking conservative. It might be a good political strategy, but I have no respect for that sort of pandering, whether it comes from the left, right or center.

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