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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Wall Street Journal Tells Us It's All About Philosophy

The Wall Street Journal Tells Us It's All About Philosophy

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 22:03

The news media keeps trying to tell us not to worry about who gets the money, the issue is one of philosophy. The WSJ picks up the task today telling readers that the difference between conservative and liberal budget plans:

"The big takeaway is this: The debate over how to reduce the deficit is truly a philosophical one about the size of government."

Is that so? The Congressional Budget Office tells us that it will cost $34 trillion (5 times the size of the projected Social Security shortfall) more to provide Medicare equivalent policies through private insurers than through the traditional government Medicare program. This would be additional money paid by taxpayers and beneficiaries to insurers and providers. Is the desire to hand this money over to these groups a question of philosophy?

Comments (5)Add Comment
Size of government is irrelevant.
written by Ralph Musgrave, May 26, 2011 2:35
The idea that the deficit has anything to do with the “size of government” is total BS. Taking the structural element of the deficit first, this is simply a failure to collect sufficient tax to cover spending. A small government country, if it is run by idiots, is just as likely to fail to collect enough tax to cover spending as a big government country. The problem is the idiots in charge, not the level of government spending as such.

As to the part of the deficit that derives from stimulus, a big government country can be short of aggregate demand just as much as a small government country. In fact a big government country is LESS likely to experience insufficient AD because it’s the private sector that gives rise to booms and recessions. Thus a big government country ought to experience fewer and smaller deficits (not that I’m advocating big government, please note).
Did the WSJ change?
written by Ozymandius, May 26, 2011 4:27
I never read the WSJ all that often before Rupert bought it, but I remember at the time of the sale many, many people commented on how the paper had a reputation for accurate news stories. It seems as if since the sale all I read are radical right-wing extremist opinions being printed on their editorial page and inaccurate (would 'lying' be a better choice of words?) news stories.
Philosophy 201, The Ontological Argument in Economics
written by diesel, May 26, 2011 10:05
I have in mind a mechanism of exchange that is so perfect that none can be conceived greater than it. By virtue of the fact that it is the greatest conceivable, it must exist, else it would not be the greatest conceivable.

I shall call it the "free" market because, like a perpetual motion machine, it is friction free and runs flawlessly forever if left to itself.

We have already forgotten the failure of the radical free-market experiment our glorious leaders attempted to establish, creatio ex nihilo fashion in shattered, blank-slate Iraq. Neither this nor the colossal failure of the financial house of cards has shaken the faith of today's Idealists. To believe that one can proceed from a set of first principles and build an organic society therefrom shows a complete lack of understanding in how the world works. To forcefully impose such an Idealist vision upon our stubborn world is, in Camus' words, "terrorism".
written by S.D. Jeffries, May 26, 2011 11:39
The "size" of government, as I understand the arguments for smaller government, is defined by its intrusiveness into private agreements, as well as rule making that limits decisions to enter into agreements between private parties.

Such intrusiveness does not seem to bother the small-government types when it references social decision-making, but only when government rules intrude on financial decision-making, particularly in the case of large financial interests.

The inconsistencies in this philosophy belie its true intentions: to free the powerful from all responsibility and accountability for their actions while denying the less powerful the ability to make decision affecting their own personal lives.

Most remarkable is this philosophy's acceptance by a large number of the least powerful individuals in the country.
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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.