The real question, not the ‘It’s that simple’ buncombe

On the Cato at Liberty blog, Tod DeHaven frames the central question of U.S. economic policy in a way that actually encourages clear thinking, not been-there done-that political wars:

That the Keynesian-inspired deficit spending binge did create jobs isn’t in question. The real question is whether it created any net jobs after all the negative effects of the spending and debt are taken into account. How many private-sector jobs were lost or not created in the first place because of the resources diverted to the government for its job creation? How many jobs are being lost or not created because of increased uncertainty in the business community over future tax increases and other detrimental government policies?

DeHaven may reach a conclusion you disagree with, but he offers historical facts, scholarly opinion and a straightforward analytic style.

In the current media, however, attempts to write seriously about economic policy often give way to cheerleading for one side or the other, or pretending that everyone knows what to do but won’t do it because of politics.

Take it away, Paul Krugman. Economics is perhaps the most complex of social sciences, yet somehow the most famous American economist is a guy who sounds like Ross Perot: It’s that simple. Do X, and Y happens.

It’s not that simple. Krugman on economic policy is like Ann Coulter on foreign policy and U.S. militarism. The difference between them is that I really think it’s about 50 percent an act with Coulter. Krugman, however, seems to have talked himself into his absolute certitude that he can see the future and that he knows exactly what it holds.

If that’s so, here’s where he should spend his time.

I’ve followed Intrade a long time. I can’t believe no one in the mainstream media followed up on the fact that there seemed to be some insider trading involving NYPD, the NY DA’s office or maybe even The New York Times in the Dominique Strauss Kahn case.

Intrade bettors by more than a 2 to 1 expected Kahn to be convicted of at least one felony in the aftermath of his who-knows-what with a Manhattan hotel maid. But hours before it was announced that charges would be dropped, the odds appear to have sharply plunged, based on the graph that used to be on the Intrade site.

Insider trading on criminal investigations! Sounds pretty odd, huh?

The Intrade intrigue gets even juicier. A few years back, the odds on whether Israel would attack Iran’s nuclear facilities suddenly dropped — a month before a sweeping, contrarian U.S. report was made public that showed intelligence agencies now believed Iran’s nuclear progress wasn’t nearly what had previously been thought.

Insider trading on wars! Amazing but true. Apparently.

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