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Wanted: Personal Economic Trainers. Apply at Washington Post

Next thing you know they’ll give Pearlstein a Nobel Prize

If you have a big home equity loan, an even bigger mortgage, over the limit credit cards, a car that will last a year with a loan that will last three, and poor prospects for future employment, apparently, the thing to do is to start lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills. When this is the prevailing wisdom, the end is nigh as the thought contains no wisdom and indicates a widespread acceptance of irresponsibility. This bastardization of the work of John Maynard Keynes has taken root in news rooms, editorial pages, legislatures, and cable news stations from sea to shining sea and across the fruited plain. It is accepted as if it came down from on high carved into stone tablets. One side decreeing the dangers of anthropogenic global warming and the other extolling Keynesian economics and specifying the liberal programs to spend money on to stimulate the economy. All of this presented as if it were based on science as sound as Newton’s Laws of Motion. The worst part is reading hack columnists like Steven Pearlstein denigrate prudence as economic illiteracy.

When I saw the headline for Mr. Pearlstein’s piece, Wanted: Personal Economic Trainers. Apply at Capitol, I thought he might be on to something. I envisioned Congress sitting down with Dave Ramsey for a total money make over. “OK Dave, I’ve got an income of 2.7 trillion and I’m over ten trillion in debt. My expenses are 3.1 trillion a year. Do you think it is a good idea to borrow another trillion dollars in hopes my income might rise?”

Turns out the headline was false advertising. Pearlstein wants to spend $53.5 million to hire each member of Congress their own economics PhD. The mind boggles at where we would find 535 out of work economics PhDs. Then again, I’m sure there are plenty to choose from among the ranks of those that ran Wall Street into the ground. The rest of the article uses specific line items that have been identified by Republicans as pork to show how critics of the stimulus bill don’t understand what is stimulating. All in all it is pretty useless unless you are trying to figure out how many of Steve Pearlstein’s brain cells can fit on the head of a pin. Answer: all of them.

Like most solutions emanating from Washington, it is possible to do much more with far less. Forget the PhDs and just have Congress, the President, and most importantly, over paid writers, read Henry Hazlitt's excellent book "Economics in One Lesson". Fortunately for Mr. Pearlstein, the book is available online so we will not have to dip into precious stimulus dollars to implement it. Hazlitt, by the way, was the caliber of writer the New York Times used to hire before they decided to go out of business and hire navel gazers that confuse observation with epiphany like Thomas Friedman.

Once everyone understands the broken window fallacy, we can stop this nonsense about government spending stimulating the economy. The order of operations is work, save, prosper, and then spend not spend, prosper, and then work. And for the love of God, quit calling this spending nonsense a Keynesian stimulus. This is simply a big government power grab with no economic justification. Future generations will be far poorer so we can keep this ill-conceived party rolling by paying off a bunch of Democratic king makers. Poor Keynes is probably spinning in his grave due to all of the rubbish being justified by his work. Maybe we could dig him up and wrap his body in copper wire, and line his coffin with magnets to provide a green energy source? (Note to self: write future column suggesting Al Gore take one for the team in a similar fashion.)

One last thought. If anyone deserves to blow a fortune on sports cars and hookers it should be the people that earned it, not a bunch of over paid union drones earning far more than their public sector counter parts. Honestly, Pearlstein is advocating theft and justifying it on the basis of a slowing economy. And this is in one of the largest newspapers in the country. A better plan would be to steal off of Pearlstein to buy cars and hookers.

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