Friday, February 11, 2011

Catch of the Day

Matt Yglesias points out that, contra Paul Ryan, there really are things "more insidious that a country can do to its citizens" than to "debase its currency." Great catch!

Ryan's a bit of a puzzle, it seems to me. He spent the last two years building up his credentials as a Serious Policy Guy (regardless of whether he really is or not -- he was certainly trying to create that image). But since November, he seems to be much more interested in scoring points with the yahoos than with cultivating the governing image.

Granted, there have been any number of Members of Congress who were legitimate serious policy people but also were quick with the partisan rhetoric -- including rhetoric that they surely must have known was not, technically, entirely, accurate in the sense of being the truth. I'm thinking of David Obey, for one; go back a bit, and Bob Dole certainly qualifies. So you can do both. Just interesting, to me, to see Ryan's career develop. I'm really not sure what he's going to look like, a couple of years down the road.


  1. Debasement of the currency is “insidious” in the sense that it seems like a good idea at the time, but you pay for it later. Obviously no one would describe the Tuskegee experiment this way. It’s absurd to conclude from this comment that Paul Ryan thinks inflation is worse than murder. This kind of twisted commentary is the meat and potatoes of Glenn Beck… and, I hope, beneath Mr. Yglesias.

    While I don’t always agree with Paul Ryan, I’m pleased to see him tackling this issue. Low interest rates following 9/11 inflated housing prices... with disastrous consequences. The Fed is now pursuing unprecedented simulative policies and I’m glad that Paul Ryan is speaking out against them. I wish there were a Democrat who would join him.

  2. Couves,

    I really disagree. Among other things, people did think that lots of things that we think are horrible were good and necessary -- think the Japanese internment, or Red Scare stuff, etc.

    On the policy itself: even if you think that low interest rates were a major factor in the housing bubble (perhaps, perhaps not), that hardly means that it's always bad to stimulate the economy. Especially in hard times, such as the last three years. Remember, core inflation is at a 50 year low. How "insidious" is *deflaction* of the currency? It certainly is pretty harmful.

  3. Mr. Bernstein:

    You’re certainly free assume the worst about Ryan’s beliefs. But I can’t imagine how anyone could fairly interpret his statement as you have… unless you already assumed he held such monstrous beliefs.

    I’m less concerned about price inflation than I am about a second financial bubble, or just prolonging the recovery. Even Keynes would be alarmed by this kind of stimulus... At a certain point, you're not "priming the pump," you're flooding the engine.

  4. It's impossible to conclude Yglesias' post that he thinks "that Paul Ryan thinks inflation is worse than murder". Ryan was using completely dishonest and offensive rhetoric to make his point, and you are being dishonest in your defense of him. I wish more conservatives realized that being conservative doesn't require being a liar.

  5. "Insidious" has all kinds of connotations around it, so Ryan is really saying it's a very, very bad thing.

    And, honestly, it's hyperbole. How about lying to go to war with a country that's been #1 on everyone's shitlist (so it feels good now), only to create a recruiting video for terrorists in the form of th daily news for a decade or more? Or, to take it away from the policies of a particular Republican, favoring policies that have led to a fantastic concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer people?

    Inflation is most scary to those who have lots of money and don't want it to be worth less in trade for goods and services. Ryan is talking about the fears of an increasingly smaller portion of the population.

    Yes, a rising tide raises all boats and a bad economy is bad for all, especially the poor who lose jobs first and get hired last. But inflation is a hell of a lot less scary than 15% unemployment for millions of people.

  6. Matt, it’s the spectacular inflation in housing prices, and the resulting crash, that caused our recent increase in unemployment. Inflation can occur in places other than consumer prices. Inflation in financial investments is actually more insidious because everything seems great until the crash comes. Our housing bubble could not have happened without the large “stimulative” monetary expansion we experienced under Bush. Ironically, it’s economists on the GOP side (like John Taylor), who blame Bush’s Federal Reserve for the crash.

    I agree with you on Iraq.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?