July 31st, 2012


Monthly Topic: Guns vs. Butter‏

The topic of austerity and stimulus got me thinking back to my high school social studies lessons. One of the things we learned about was the economic trade-off between "guns and butter." During the second global conflict civilian consumption was drastically restricted with a strict rationing system. Citizens accepted this heavy-handed form of government control over the economy as a sacrifice that was essential to the war effort. (Of course, not all citizens were so acquiescent.) During the "police action" in Southeast Asia such sacrifices were not called for. According to our high school textbook, the failure to sacrifice domestic consumption led to an inflationary spiral.

When we think about austerity and stimulus it helps to consider who the austerity affects and how it does so. Cutting back on domestic programs in order to fund the military implies austerity for people and stimulus for arms merchants. Cutting back on military adventurism in order to fund domestic programs implies austerity for military industry and stimulus for human achievement. The military industry has given us civilian spin-offs such as recreational LSD use, MS-13 and movie theater terrorists. Civilian industry has given the military spin-offs such as satellite-based asset tracking and slick marketing techniques for packaging atrocities as life-saving necessities.

When a nation cuts back on public programs for the poorest citizens, the economy for police spending gets a shot in the arm. The rise in crime makes citizens fearful enough that they are willing to sacrifice their civil liberties in order to receive greater police protection. The American campaign to prevent communists from educating girls in Afghanistan created a climate of rampant crime which eventually resulted in the destruction of the World Trade towers. This crime wave provided a rationale to stimulate the military and police sectors of the economy to the detriment of human freedom and development. People who favor guns over butter have made out like bandits. Their motto may as well be, "Let them eat Parkay!"

I must confess that my own family participated in the military industrial complex. My father worked on the Manhattan Project instead of assaulting Japanese military strongholds in the islands of the Pacific. From that experience I learned to stay on the butter side of the economy. It does not make for a lucrative career in times of military stimulus, but it is a form of austerity that allows for more peaceful nights asleep.

What experience do you have in the economies of cow's milk byproducts and deadly devices?

Links: Wikipedia article on guns vs. butter. Reuben Oppenheimer on price and rationing boards. Muhammad Yousaf on Afghanistan.
  • ja_va

Proposed solution to the Housing Crisis.

Here is a simple solution to the current housing crisis:

1) Immediate moratorium on foreclosures.
2) Instead of foreclosure, defaulted homes should be purchased from the bank by the Federal government at a fair market price (appraised value).
3) Homeowners in default should be given an option of either vacating their house, which they would do anyway after the foreclosure, or staying on as a paying tenants to the government. The rent should be determined by the market value for the area.

The results of this program would be:
1) Once the flood of foreclosures stops, market value will immediately go up. Honest homeowners benefit, taxpayers get their money back with profit.
2) Owners in default are not becoming homeless, and yet are not given a free ride in a home they stopped paying for.
3) Economy will improve.

It may seem to simple, but it is a very good solution. I do not think there is enough gut in Washington to do something like that, though.
Ауди А6 за шес' хиляди марки. Проблемче?
  • htpcl

Geopolitical free-for-all, yo!

Privet, comrades! Greetings, politics junkies! I'm sure you know pretty well that the Russian blogosphere is full of self-proclaimed genius political experts. Especially geopolitics experts! Well, here's the latest gem of a geopolitical column called Obozrevatel (granted, it's Ukrainian, but still... Ukrainians, Russians... they're the same sort of Ivans).

Behold Europe of 2035, as per the surveys of CIA/KGB/Mossad/whatever:


No, actually it's a crazy bold rambling prediction of a raving lunatic political expert about what Europe and this part of the world at the wrong side of the Big Water might be looking like in, say, two decades (??) So let's peer into all that crazy, shall we?

Collapse )