Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Macroeconomics for Dragons

A conservative relative posted something on Facebook about the Federal Reserve recently.  It said that you could understand the Federal reserve by consulting the monopoly rulebook, roughly:

'Q:What happens when the bank runs out of money?'
A: The bank cannot run out of money.  If bills run out the banker will write amounts on pieces of paper and use these as money.'

Actually this is a pretty wonderfuly explanation of what the federal reserve does and why it's important: it makes sure that we have money so that we can play the game, IE buy and sell things.  It would be a miserable game of monopoly indeed if money could just run out, and in the real world the results are worse -- the Great Depression is a fabulous example.

But of course, my family member did not intend the above as a compliment to Ben Bernanke's efforts to inject more money into the economy.  And it makes me wonder -- what do you have to believe for this all to be a -bad- thing?  What do you have to believe to think that it's wrong to make sure that there is enough money in the economy?

Monday, October 7, 2013

You Should Take Responsibility So I Don't Have To

Whenever someone says 'personal responsibility' my eyes glaze over.  I've heard it said too much, and heard it say too little.

This phrase has become a magical incantation.  A spell people use to ward off the boogeymen -- moral relativism, people blaming society for their problems, the decline in American values.  Of course, these are boogeymen, not real problems but the invented crises of moral busybodies and superstitious fanatics who are concern-trolling our nation (I'm looking at you, Douthat).  The idea that invoking 'personal responsibility' does anything is laughable - young men do not turn to the corner because some NPR liberal said it wasn't their fault, and telling them that it's their fault is not going to make them stop.

But as laughable as it is, it is invoked again and again can be deployed against drug users, teen moms, teens that aren't moms, poor people on welfare, poor people not on welfare, black folks and many others.  And that's the sinister part.