Category Archives: Economics

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Have you been wondering how the Imperial Federal government has been spending your hard-earned tax dollars?  Wonder no more.  Excerpt:

If America does not change course, the future will be dramatically worse. Now more than ever, it is crucial that Americans understand what our nation’s spending, taxes, and debt mean for them and their families. The Heritage Foundation’s Federal Budget in Pictures offers a unique tool to learn about the federal budget in a clear and compelling way.

A few of the more interesting charts from the article follow, with comments.

national-debt-burden-680We have our fourth grandchild on the way; she will be born in September.  Her share of Imperial debt?  $41,000.  She will be born owing an amount that would have been a healthy down payment on a house, or two to three years of her college education.  By the time she is 24 she will owe half the value of a pretty nice house, $142,000.


Now, 2031:  The year yr. obdt. turns 70 is the year that Imperial entitlements plus interest on Imperial debt exceeds all tax revenues.  That 18% figure estimated in the chart here, by the way, is probably pretty accurate; there appears to be a hard cap of tax revenues at about 19-20% of GDP, no matter what tax rates are.  (Someone send a note about that to Queen Hillary I, who is still maundering about “revenue enhancements,” by which she means tax hikes.)


This chart speaks for itself:  Social Security is screwed.


Oh, and remember that comment about tax rates?   Take a look.

This is a flaming disaster.  The Imperial Federal government’s response:


I think we’re well past the point of no return.


Rule Five Friday

2015_06_12_Rule Five Friday (1)You’ve got to give joke candidate Bernie “That Loopy Old Guy From Vermont” Sanders credit for one thing – he, at least, is open and unabashed about being a socialist.  That doesn’t make his economic plans any less daffy.   Excerpts and my comments:

He (Sanders) objects to “the dizzying (and socially useless) number of products in the deodorant category. (C)utting poverty and inequality is worth a reduction in innovation, and oh by the way, the kinds of things we call ‘innovation’ are often little more than new marketing gimmicks with dubious social value.” And that, friends and neighbors, is why “we should distribute the national income more evenly.”

Here is Illustration Number One of Sander’s economic illiteracy.  There is no such thing as “national income.”  Only people – individuals – have income.  And that income is not distributed, it is earned.  It is the property of those who earned it, not the property of politicians to be confiscated to purchase votes.

2015_06_12_Rule Five Friday (2)This is superficially appealing. We can all think of products that strike us as stupid and useless (Uggs? Pickle-flavored potato chips? Country music?). And we can all think of better recipients for the money spent on them: Starving children. Endangered elephants. Cancer research. In what kind of universe does Kanye West deserve millions in income while homeless veterans are eating out of garbage cans?

Much as I despise Kanye West, he deserves his millions in income because he produced a product (I hesitate to use the term “music,” but lack a suitable synonym) that millions are willing to pay him for – in a free, voluntary exchange of value.  West’s product is of no interest to me, but then, I don’t buy it, and nobody is forcing me to – nor is anyone forcing West’s fans from buying his work.  It’s all about free choice.  Leftists are supposed to be “pro-choice,” right?


But the superficial appeal quickly fades in the face of two competing considerations—one practical, the other principled.

For a peek at the practical argument, avail yourself of a fine little vignette from The Washington Post: “In an Online World, Cuba Remains a Stand-in-Line Society.” At Havana’s state-run retail hubs, reports Nick Miroff, “Customers with long shopping lists face no fewer than seven places to stand in line. One for butter. Another for cooking oil. A third for toothpaste. And so on.” The caption to a dismal accompanying photograph shows people waiting “hours for their government ration of chicken.”

2015_06_12_Rule Five Friday (3)Those of us old enough to remember the old Soviet Union will remember similar examples – long-faced people in the typically shabby, ill-fitting clothing of the Soviet Union waiting in long lines for potatoes or toilet paper.  This is, and always has been, the end result of economic policies like those promoted by Sanders.

Which brings us to the principled objection: socially useless to whom? In a world of hungry children, Jones might think it’s idiocy to spend a single cent on one more song by Kanye or Taylor Swift (and Jones would be right!). But that isn’t Jones’ choice to make for anybody except Jones. If Smith wants to waste his money on a pop singer’s latest release, he has every right to do so, and nobody else has the right to force him to do otherwise. After all: If Smith has no right to decide how he will spend his own money, then by what means does Jones, whose money it isn’t, acquire such a right?

2015_06_12_Rule Five Friday (4)Granted, this can lead to great inequalities. But that is not synonymous with injustice, as Robert Nozick explained in his Wilt Chamberlain hypothetical. (Wilt Chamberlain was a famous basketball star.) If everyone entering the arena freely agrees to pay Chamberlain a dollar for the pleasure of watching him play, then at the end of the season he will be much richer than anyone else. But since the spectators actually wanted to participate in the exchange, then no harm has been done.

This is the greater argument, this one of principle; that is the argument of property rights.  My income is my property, to dispose of as I please, whether I choose to buy concert tickets, guns, beef jerky or a different brand of deodorant for every day of the week.  Nobody – no politician, no bureaucrat, no government functionary – has the 2015_06_12_Rule Five Friday (5)right to tell me how I am or am not allowed to spend the fruits of my own labor.  (I am obliged to recognize my own dear Mrs. Animal as an exception to that rule.)

Liberty and Property!

That’s the problem with pols like Sanders – and Clinton, and Obama, and many others.  While I know the fruits of my labors are my property to be disposed as I choose, they see my income as belonging to government first, and that I should be humbly grateful for whatever crumbs they deign to leave me.

Granted Sanders is a joke candidate, in an election cycle that seems to be full of them (although daffy old Uncle Joe Biden has yet to announce, leaving the Daffy Crown up for grabs.)  But there are too many who share his economic delusions.  One of them sits in the Imperial Mansion even now.

2015_06_12_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

For today’s Hump Day fare, have a look at the latest from the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell.  Here is Just Asking.  Excerpt:

In a recent panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama gave another demonstration of his mastery of rhetoric — and disregard of reality.

One of the ways of fighting poverty, he proposed, was to “ask from society’s lottery winners” that they make a “modest investment” in government programs to help the poor.

 Since free speech is guaranteed to everyone by the First Amendment to the Constitution, there is nothing to prevent anybody from asking anything from anybody else. But the federal government does not just “ask” for money. It takes the money it wants in taxes, usually before the people who have earned it see their paychecks.

Despite pious rhetoric on the left about “asking” the more fortunate for more money, the government does not “ask” anything. It seizes what it wants by force. If you don’t pay up, it can take not only your paycheck, it can seize your bank account, put a lien on your home and/or put you in federal prison.

So please don’t insult our intelligence by talking piously about “asking.”

As Dr. Sowell points out later in the column, another canard constantly parroted by the Left is referring to the successful as “society’s lottery winners.”

Speaking personally, if I may, for a moment; I’m not in the top one percent that Her Highness Queen Hillary has promised to “bring down,” but I sure as hell am in the top ten percent.  But I didn’t win any damn lottery.  I’ve worked my ass off.  I’ve worked since I was fourteen, and I figure on working as long as my health allows me to.  But it wasn’t “good fortune,” or “luck.”  It was work.  It was taking risks.  It was long hours, long days and missed weekends.

That’s pretty typical for the self-employed.  I know more than a few serial entrepreneurs that might just take a swing at you if you suggest their success was just due to luck.

Facepalm-bearBut this is just another sign of the economic cluelessness on display in the Imperial City today.  We have in the Imperial Mansion an executive who has never run a business, never met a payroll, never looked at a balance sheet – he has never produced anything, ever, and now he’s bloviating on economic success.

What a revoltin’ development.

Rule Five Friday

2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (1)Not like this should be a surprise to anyone who has followed economic policy for the last 35 years, but here it is anyway:  Obama vs. Reagan on GDP Growth – Not Even Close.  Excerpt:

Ronald Reagan’s economic plan saw GDP surge at a 3.5% clip – 4.9% after the recession. That’s a 32% bump.

During the Obama years, thanks to his big government policies, the US economy has stalled. Today the quarterly GDP was announced. The GDP for the first quarter of 2015 braked more sharply than expected at only a .2% pace. The US economy has grown an anemic 9.6% during the Obama years (excluding today’s dismal number).

Of course, Obama’s record on job growth is also much worse than President Reagan’s record.

2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (2)Net job growth has declined under Obama. By the end of the second year of their terms as president, economic growth under Reagan averaged 7.1% , under Obama an anemic 2.8%. (IJ Review)

And today, more than five years into the tepid recovery, labor-force participation remains at its lowest level since 1978 during the Carter years.

More from Forbes:

Let’s look at some numbers. President Reagan entered office in a period of high inflation which was stamped out by high interest rates that in turn led to the 1982 recession. His job-creation record after that may fairly be termed outstanding: nearly 20 million more Americans were employed when he left office than when the recession ended. Overall, including the recession on his watch, Reagan’s net job growth over eight years was 16.1 million.

2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (3)Barack Obama entered office in different circumstances: He inherited a recession that was already well underway, which ended much earlier in his presidency than did the Reagan recession. If you think of the economic cycle like a bouncing ball, Obama entered office just as the ball was about to strike the pavement. The bounce, though, has proceeded in agonizingly slow motion. Some eight million jobs have been created under Obama since the mid-2009 end of the recession, with a net gain of about five million. Charting Obama and Reagan’s job-creation against overall U.S. population increases makes the picture look even worse for Obama, and the Reagan-era U.S. had a much smaller population. At any rate, more people have been added to the food-stamp rolls than the job rolls under Obama.

It’s misleading to compare employment rates during the two presidencies. 2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (4)Imagine 90 out of 100 people are employed, and because the economy looks like it’s picking up more steam 10 more people enter the workforce. If nine out of ten of them find jobs, the unemployment rate doesn’t go down at all, yet ten percent more people are employed.

So what’s the chief difference between these two completely different takes on economic policy?

There’s one key difference:  Incentives.  President Reagan pushed policies that encouraged growth; they encouraged investment, small business, they rewarded success – at least to the extent that the Democratic Congress of those years (and mind you, the Democrat party has moved a ways to the left since the 1980s) allowed.

President Obama’s policies – at least to the extent that the rather squishy GOP Congress is allowing – punish success and reward failure.

2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (5)It’s a truism in economics that you get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish.    Barack Obama’s economic policy can be boiled down to “you can’t make it without the Imperial Federal government.  We’ll give you handouts.  We’ll give you preferences.  We’ll give, give, give, and someone else will pay.”

Economic policy should be:  “You can do this yourself.  We’ll show you how.”

At present nobody much in the Imperial City is talking like this.  Why not?

2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Daily News


I, For One, Welcome Our New Burger Flipping Overlords.  Excerpt:

The Momentum Machines website is low-key right now, but that may have something to do with high-profile arguments in the press and protests in the streets demanding that fast-food chains pay workers $15 an hour to do the job the company’s robots are designed to fill. Even before those placard-wielders decided to raise their costs in terms of dollars and grief, the San Francisco-based start-up announced that they were obsolete.

Momentum Machines’ old, boastier website claimed:
Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore. With our technology, a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices.

Our alpha machine replaces all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant.

It does everything employees can do except better:

  • it slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles only immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.
  • our next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground after you place your order? No problem.
  • Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices.
  • it’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.

This, True Believers, is the future of the minimum-wage debate.

There is and always will be a real minimum wage, and that is $0.00/hour.  There is and always will be a law of economics , and that is that a job is only worth the value that the employee returns to the employer.  If the wage is artificially raised above that value, then the job will go away – and above you see that happening.  Minimum wage raised above the value a fast-food employee returns?  Replace them with automated order-taking kiosks and robotified burger lines.

When I myself was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck (with a pink carnation and a pickup truck) most fast-food and other minimum-wage jobs were held by high-school kids making a few extra bucks to spend on cars, girls and other entertainments.  Now you hear a lot about how “you can’t support a family on minimum wage,” to which I can only reply that if you are trying to support a family on one minimum-wage job, you really need to take a good, hard look at your life – and, by the way, teenagers today are mostly unable to gain that valuable entry-level work experience because they are priced out of the market.

Relaxed BearAnd there’s one more little thing:  Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is the Imperial Federal government allowed to meddle in voluntary contracts between employee and employer.

But then, it’s not like the denizens of the Imperial City pay all that much attention to the Constitution any more.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Have a look at this, True Believers:  Senator Rubio’s pro-growth tax reform plan.  Excerpt:

Perhaps no function of our government is more antiquated and dysfunctional than our federal tax system, which:

  • Requires Americans to spend 6.1 billion hours per year preparing their tax returns;
  • Is so complex that only about 30% of individual filers itemize, meaning itemized deductions in their current form are useless to 70% of individual filers;
  • Penalizes parents by requiring them to contribute twice to the old – age entitlement system;
  • Gives foreign companies an advantage over their American competitors in business done outside of our borders;
  • Encourages debt issuance and accumulation, needlessly creating a riskier economy;
  • Fails to sufficiently distinguish between businesses investing money into growth and new jobs and businesses accumulating cash and withdrawing profits;
  • Taxes the same flow of money at several different points, hindering growth and hiding the true burden of the system;
  • Creates an environment of confusion and uncertainty for individuals and firms – and unfair opportunity for the special interest lobbyists – by designating a multitude of tax code provisions as temporary; and,
  • Conspires with our outmoded welfare system to discourage work and investment in human capital by imposing very high effective marginal tax rates on families and individuals living near the poverty line.

Excellent BearTo end these problems, Senator Rubio and co-sponsor Senator Mike Lee propose to:

  • Treat all families equitably and eliminate the tax code’s biases against parents and married couples;
  • Encourage economic growth that will yield more private sector jobs and higher wages;
  • Remove crony biases in the code;
  • Enhance the ability of firms located in the United States to compete in the global market; and
  • Curtail the Internal Revenue Service’s discretion and capacity for abuse.

There’s an even better way to conduct this, of course; the FairTax.  But for quite a while now, the FairTax has looked to be a non-starter in Congress, and it is certainly a dead letter as long as Barack Obama is in the Imperial Mansion.

But then, the Rubio-Lee plan certainly faces a veto as well.  To be honest, nothing much is going to happen until at least January of 2017, because “tax reform” to President Obama means “raising tax rates.”

Leaping Wet BearHave a read through the entire plan.  While yr. obdt. would prefer scrapping our entire system and replacing it, as in the FairTax, this plan is nevertheless a reasonable, rational pro-growth plan along the lines of the Reagan reforms of the early 1980s, which led to two decades of robust economic growth – quite different from the economic doldrums we’ve been in since 2007.

Why the President and Congressional Democrats seem so opposed to economic growth, however, is a stumper.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks to The Daley Gator for the Rule Five link!

Any True Believers out there under 40?  You’re fucked.  Excerpt:

Remember Occupy Wall Street, when thousands across the country took to the streets, sleeping in tents to protest the ultra-rich 1 percent? The occupiers’ frustration was real, but their ire was misdirected. They should have launched an Occupy the AARP movement instead.

Government policies that transfer cash from the relatively young and poor to the relatively old and wealthy are the real scandal. In 1970, Social and Medicare accounted for 20 percent of federal spending. They have since grown to 40 percent; by 2030, they will be more than half. And these numbers understate the level of federal spending for the elderly. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, some 28 percent of spending on Medicaid, a program designed to offer health care to families in poverty, goes to older Americans.

Yr. obdt. is forced to disagree in one respect; the Occupy Wall Street crowd weren’t misdirected, they were idiotic.   But beyond that, what our Imperial Federal government has done is a cosmic leap in idiocy beyond anything the Occupy crowd ever dreamed of.

Instead of explaining this again, I’ll just present a relevant quote from the Animal Manifesto:

The entire picture of tax and fiscal policy, such as it is, by our Imperial Federal Government is an unmitigated multi-generational disaster; it is a cluster-fuck of cosmic proportions, the overarching, transcendent issue of our time.  Runaway government spending and debt is the single greatest threat to the Republic today; greater than Islamic terrorism, greater than competition from Chinese manufacturing, greater than any environmental crisis.  And this crisis can only be addressed in one of two ways; we can inflate our way out of it, or we can grow our way out of it.  We should be doing the latter, but seem to be doing the former; the purchasing power of the American dollar is almost perfectly paralleling the decline of the Roman denarius during the decline of the Empire.

Things may well be past the point of no return.  Neither party seems to have the political will to address the problem; one party seems to show some slight concern about low economic growth and the ridiculous tax system, while the other party intends to continue doubling down on bad policies.  That’s not a comforting thought.

We have demagogued away our grandchildren’s future, and history will (rightly) damn us for it.

Angry-BearThe Reason article linked above concludes:  Unfortunately, there is almost no appetite in Congress for even mild reforms of Social Security and Medicare. Most lawmakers won’t touch entitlement programs, because older Americans vote. Driven by a desire to get re-elected, politicians refuse to reform the program at the core of our country’s future fiscal woes.

That behavior makes sense even if it’s deplorable. Harder to understand is why younger Americans don’t object when wealthy seniors take funds from those who can least afford it.

It’s another data point in the documentation of a fiscal calamity.  As the Manifesto says, future generations will rightly damn us for it.

Rule Five Friday

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (1)Granted, for any right-of-center blogger, the IRS is pretty much low-hanging fruit for a good rant.

But let’s go for it anyway.  Here are ten tax facts the IRS doesn’t want you to know.  The first two:

This is shaping up to be a tough year for the Internal Revenue Service…and, potentially, for taxpayers. Not only is the agency hobbled by budget cuts, but it faces more demands due to Obamacare and rampant tax-related identity theft. Customer service will be worse than ever.

The IRS ideally projects an image of efficiency and fairness. But as a government agency, it also has to inform citizens about its inner workings. Gleaned from its public documents, here are 10 facts the IRS would probably rather the American public did not know:

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (2)Related: 10 Surprising Tax Deductions in 2015

1. It’s unlikely that you’ll get audited. The IRS audited fewer than 1 percent of individual returns last year and this number is likely to drop again this year due to budget cuts. The IRS budget approved by Congress this fiscal year is $10.9 billion, down from $12 billion in 2012. The agency has about 17,000 fewer staffers than it did in 2010. Meantime, it has to deal with a surge in tax refund identity theft (see No. 6, below) as well as complex new filing requirements related to Obamacare.

Of course, the odds of getting audited are a lot higher for some taxpayers. If your income is over $1 million, your chances of getting audited jumps to 11 percent. And there are plenty of additional red flags that can trigger an IRS audit.

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (3)2. Calling us for help is a crapshoot. If you need to speak to an IRS agent, you may be out of luck. Last year, 35.6 percent of phone calls went unanswered by customer service representatives. But this year the IRS projects only 43 percent of callers will get through to an agent after a wait of 30 minutes. That’s an average, notes National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson, in a January report to Congress. That means some days will be “truly abysmal,” she says.

Well, hell, thanks to the IRS and the bureaucrats and politicians that pass the laws and make the regulations that comprise tax policy, plenty of days are “truly abysmal” for taxpayers, too.

The U.S. tax code is, at last and best information, somewhere close to 80,000 pages.  The truth of it is that nobody understands this monstrosity, not even the IRS agents who are supposed to advise the citizenry on their tax returns.  My own dear Mrs. Animal can testify to that; she has been doing our taxes for twenty years, and as our business has grown, gone international and become more complex, so has our tax filing.  When our kids were growing up, they knew Mom was a little cranky around tax time and made allowances.

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (4)Why should that be the case?

A truly fair tax code should be simple.  A truly fair tax filing should be along the lines of “Enter your income form all sources on line A.  Multiply your income by .065 and enter that on line B.  This is your tax liability.”  I’d be willing to exclude, say, the first $30,000 (or whatever number makes sense) from taxation.

I’d much rather have the Fair Tax, but I’d settle for an honestly flat tax.

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (5)Instead, we have an 80,000 page monstrosity that manages to punish success, reward failure, and support a fair-sized army of tax accountants and lobbyists.

In what way is this anything but a catastrophe?

President Obama has made noises about tax reform, which in his lingo means raising tax rates and coming up with new taxes and fees.  The new GOP Congress has made similar noises, which in their case almost certainly means putting a fresh coat of lipstick on the same old pig.

Why isn’t there a Presidential candidate out there willing to talk about this?

2015_02_06_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

What would you do if you could live forever?  Excerpt:

The key to eternal life could be a procedure to lengthen chromosomes.

The procedure would allow scientists to lengthen telomeres, the protective caps that are on the end of chromosomes and shorten with age.

The telomeres protect chromosomes from getting damage as cells divide and grow. But as they do, they slowly become shorter and eventually are unable to protect the chromosomes. When that happens, they are liable to deteriorate — thought to be a key part of the ageing process.

The new process allows scientists to lengthen the telomeres, effectively turning back the biological clock and making the chromosomes — and the people that are made out of them — younger.

Personally, I’d settle for a thousand years – a thousand years in the body I had at 25.  Or even 35.  I’d settle for the one I have now, but the wrong side of 50 isn’t as much fun (physically) as being a 20-something was.  Think of the outdoor adventure stories one could amass with a thousand years to hunt, fish, and bum around in the woods.

Silver BearBut the implications of near-immortality go way beyond how many elk one might take.  Think of a respectable cohort of near-immortals with the sense to spend fifty years socking away a good savings account – and then spending another hundred letting compound interest do its thing.  Some of those people (I’d like to think I’d be savvy enough myself) would amass fortunes that would make Bill Gates look like Tommy Joad.

Think of what that would do to real estate prices – the stock market – the RV sales business – almost anything.

What price immortality?  I can only imagine; this is an economic scenario I’d love to see a Thomas Sowell weigh in on.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

2015_02_02_Goodbye Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

This just in from Investor’s Business Daily:  Reaganomics Beats Obama’s Middle Class Economics By A Country Mile.  Excerpt:

To get the economy moving again, President Reagan cut taxes, simplified the tax code, reined in regulations, kept spending under control, and generally treated government as more of a problem than a solution to many of the country’s troubles.

Obama promised to set the country on a new and different course, and has been doing a bang-up job of it ever since. He boosted spending, raised taxes, vastly complicated the tax code, unleashed federal regulators and massively expanded the entitlement state with ObamaCare.

And how did these two visions work out?

In the first five years of the Reagan recovery, the economy grew 4.6% a year on average. Under Obama, it’s been a paltry 2.2%.

Employment had climbed more than 18% by this point in Reagan’s recovery. Under Obama, it’s a mere 7.2%.

Looked at another way, the growth gap between Obama’s economic policies and Reagan’s is now $2.4 trillion in lost GDP and a stunning 14.4 million in lost jobs.

Sad-BearObama hasn’t just underperformed Reagan, he’s underperformed every president since the Great Depression.

To say the Obama Administration is peopled with economic illiterates is the biggest understatement since August 1945, when Emperor Hirohito said “The war in the Pacific has not necessarily developed in Japan’s favor.”

History shows us, eloquently, how to get an economy moving.  Forget President Reagan – President Kennedy, to whom Barack Obama likes to compare himself (unjustly) also cut marginal tax rates and presided over an economic growth phase that made the current “recovery” look pathetically anemic.

So why does the Obama Administration refuse to learn from history?  Because ideology trumps economics for these people.  The endless “soak the rich, spend spend spend” strain of Keynesianism that seems inexhaustible is what takes the place of competency in economic policy.  And mortgaging our grandchildren’s futures takes the place of fiscal sanity.

If there is any better reason to change course in 2016, I can’t think of what it might be.