Guest Commentary: Talking the Same Old Ground of ‘Fiscal Responsibility’™

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

by Mark Dempsey

Tracy C. Miller of the Tribune News Service recently published an editorial monument to cluelessness.

He’s unhappy that Biden’s proposed taxes on the wealthy won’t nearly pay for all the spending the president proposes, and Miller sternly reminds us that the monster hiding under the bed is really National ‘Debt.’ He even cites Milton Friedman as an authority proposing ever smaller government.

What’s amazing is that this is the stuff of our nation’s op-ed pages. Miller’s economic authority, Friedman, was the economist who said increases in money supply would lead to inflation. Take a look at this graph of inflation vs. growth in money supply:

(The black line is the growth rate of money supply, the red line is inflation)

Clearly, there’s virtually no correlation between inflation and the growth in money supply–yet Friedman still commands respect from Miller. Says the Guardian “very few of Friedman’s most cherished proposals were ever put into practice. Of those that were – such as monetarism – almost all turned into failure.”

Miller’s extreme “conservatism” is no surprise. He is a Senior Policy Research Editor at the Koch-funded Mercatus Center. He got his Economics  degree from Milton Friedman’s school: The University of Chicago.

The Kochs are the right-wing libertarians who were literally raised by a Nazi nanny. No, I don’t mean the nanny was a stern disciplinarian–although that may have been true, too–I mean she was a member of Adolph Hitler’s political party. Atilla the Hun is to the left of the Kochs.

Miller says, “Regardless of how it is financed — and of popular political sentiment — government spending is less effective than money spent privately on goods or services.”

Really? So private firms like Enron, Adelphia, Credit Mobilier, and Silverado Savings and Loan were paragons of virtue spending money?

Government funded research that produced the internet, transistors, integrated circuits, touch screens, lithium batteries, GPS, and 75 percent of pharmaceutical innovation…those were wasteful?

See Marianna Mazzucato’s TED talk about government spending on actual innovation.

Or take a look at the Wikipedia article about government spending. Wikipedia cites the Wall Street Journal and the (Koch-funded) Heritage Foundation as sources, and points out U.S. government spending is actually modest.

The U.S. ranks between Malta and Argentina in spending as a percentage of GDP. If you reduce the U.S. government spending by only 10 percent to normalize its spending on defense, the U.S. ranks between Slovakia and Namibia.

Gosh, I wonder why our infrastructure gets a “D+” grade from the American Society of Engineers!

Naturally Miller ignores that spending in excess of tax revenue is dollars in the hands of the population–it’s their dollar financial assets. Just as your bank account is your asset, but to the bank it’s a liability, so government spending is the population’s savings, but government’s ‘debt.’

Miller’s allegiance to “Fiscal Responsibility™” and reducing national debt is about as sensible as someone telling you to march down to your bank to tell its manager to reduce the bank’s debt. An honest bank manager would say “But that will make your accounts smaller!”

Miller wants us to say “We don’t care! We just hate the word ‘debt’!” Not very sensible.

But that’s the character of public discourse now. When Donald Trump decried “fake news,” there’s a reason it resonated with the American public.

Miller is just the latest in a parade of fake news purveyors.

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About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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