Liberal Economics: Now Officially Bankrupt

Paul Krugman, Laureate of the Sveriges Riksban...

Paul Krugman, Laureate of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences and the nutball prize in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2008 at a press conference at the Swedish Academy of Science in Stockholm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OK, it’s over now.  The liberal, Keynesian economic models have now exhausted their usefulness and their failure is so obvious, that its supporters are now reduced to science fiction in order make their theories fit.

Enter Paul Krugman, noted New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning Professor of Economics.

On last week’s GPS show with Fareed Zakaria, Krugman had this to say about stimulus:

“Think about World War II, right? That was actually negative social product spending, and yet it brought us out.

I mean, probably because you want to put these things together, if we say, “Look, we could use some inflation.” Ken and I are both saying that, which is, of course, anathema to a lot of people in Washington but is, in fact, what the basic logic says.

It’s very hard to get inflation in a depressed economy. But if you had a program of government spending plus an expansionary policy by the Fed, you could get that. So, if you think about using all of these things together, you could accomplish, you know, a great deal.

If we discovered that, you know, space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months. And then if we discovered, oops, we made a mistake, there aren’t any aliens, we’d be better –“

So after having their way already for two years, the new liberal prescription for economic recovery comes down to this:

  1. Inflation
  2. Alien Invasion

I anxiously await the bumper stickers for 2012 with this economic platform.

I should have seen this coming.  As a regular watcher of the Sunday morning talking head shows, I’ve seen Krugman take it on the chin regarding the effectiveness of Keynesian stimulus for months.  Krugman’s personal defense is that he knew all along that the stimulus bill passed in February 2009 needed to be twice as large as it was.  Therefore, don’t blame him…

True enough, but as George Will pointed out on This Week besides the actual $800 billion plus stimulus, we’ve also had 5 trillion dollars in deficit spending since President Obama took office, the very backbone of Keynesian stimulus.  That dwarfs Krugman’s mere doubling of the original stimulus bill.  If five trillion is not reviving a moribund economy, I don’t know that any amount of stimulus will.

In addition, Krugman has had to defend the record of Keynesian stimulus bringing about economic recovery.  When has it ever worked?  On previous shows, the only example of successful Keynesian stimulus he has been able to come up with is World War II.  But World War II was a lot different from the type of stimulus that Krugman and others have recommended.  Although there was full employment due to the government demands for war goods, the wages were low; particularly for the 15 million Americans in uniform during the war.   We were under wage and price controls, few consumer products were being made or were available, and most staples were rationed. With little to spend their money on, savings rates shot up during the war years; either through bank savings or war bonds.

That doesn’t seem much like a stimulus to me.  And I doubt the President would have had much luck pushing this through even a Democratic Congress.

So if you follow the liberal logic train that really leaves us only one choice; to be invaded by aliens.  Now of the various types of invasion scenarios, which one should we choose?

The Falling Skies scenario appears to have been a real downer for the US economy.  In the TNT network show, 98% of the World population is dead, and the only available jobs for humans appear to be soldiers and direct soldier support.  However there is no surviving industry or good union jobs.  It looks like all the jobs went to the alien’s home planet.

The Stargate franchise had the United States engage in not one, but several wars against various alien bad guys, and at least one extra solar human enemy.  However all of these wars were covert affairs whose costs were hidden in the Defense Department’s black budget.  No stimulative effect to the US economy was noted in any of the episodes, however the US did benefit from technological progress gained by reverse engineering alien technology.  But as all of these developments were classified, there was no larger economic benefit to the US economy.

I think what Krugman really had in mind was some sort of Independence Day scenario.   In that 1996 movie, aliens in gigantic spaceships come to earth and just start blasting away at the world’s cities.  Although the aliens are eventually defeated, the planet is devastated, but not so devastated that there still isn’t a functioning government or industry.  Opportunity to rebuild?  Golden!  With giant holes in every large US city, there is ample opportunity for shovel ready jobs to work on rebuilding a broken infrastructure.

The President has promised a secret economic plan that he will reveal in September.  Given that the government has exhausted all of its usual gimmicks from both fiscal and monetary policy. That pretty much leaves the aliens.  Let’s hope he doesn’t just  copy/paste the President’s speech from Independence Day.

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The Tao of Stargate Universe

A head-on view of the Earth Stargate.
Image via Wikipedia

As a longtime fan of the Stargate franchise, I was looking forward to the new entry in to the Stargate television family, Stargate Universe.  Although I have to admit I was a bit cautious in my expectations.  The Stargate shows, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, have been in my opinion damn near perfect science fiction TV.  The premise, that aliens thousands of years ago had kidnapped humans from Earth and settled them all over the galaxy as slaves via a Stargate, a massive ring that allows instantaneous travel between solar systems, allows just about any type of potential science fiction plot device.  In one episode the heroes could be halfway across the galaxy liberating humans from an evil alien overlord; in the next they could be downtown in Colorado Springs, getting a pizza.  Or sometimes in the same episode.  Humor and current pop culture references kept the show anchored in the here and now, while at the same time allowing the traditional action adventure in the stars.  Earth and the US Air Force manage to beat technologically superior aliens time and again.  Go us!

But when I first heard the premise of the show; humans trapped on an Ancient spaceship halfway across the universe, my first instinct was, “Uh oh, this is going to be Stargate’s Voyager.  Voyager was the second to last in the Star Trek shows, which has a starship from the Star Trek Federation… halfway across the galaxy.  The purpose was to take advantage of the Star Trek franchise but at the same time pull away from the usual cast of situations and aliens, which had started to grow stale.  It was a concept that had only meager success, and showed the franchise was on life support, finally flat lining during Star Trek Enterprise.

But the producers had promised an “edgier” Stargate than the previous incarnations.  Edgier?  Full frontual, or a FX-like use of profanity?  But setting down to watch the premiere episode I was afraid edgier would merely mean the same thing as it meant to the makers of Heroes; cut the lights off and film in the dark.  Note to TV producers: noir doesn’t mean filming without klieg lights.  At this point, the brightness level on my TV is all the way up and I still can’t see what’s going on in Heroes.  If I decide to finish the season for that show, I may just finish it as podcasts and listen to them since I can’t see what’s happening on the screen anyway.

And in the premiere episode Air, that started to look like what they meant.  The quick premise of the show, is that a planet that has unique properties and Stargate, has a secret military base.  The  Earth base personnel, who were on the planet to discover the mysteries of the “Ninth Chevron” figure out how to use the unique gate just as the planet comes under the attack of perfectly timed aliens.  Beating a hasty retreat through the Stargate, the base survivors discover themselves on board an Ancient (a humanlike highly technological race that disappeared tens of thousands of years ago in the Stargate mythology) starship, with no means to power the ship’s stargate to get back to Earth.

Naturally the ship is in total darkness when they board.  Edgy.

The first couple of episodes of the show revolve around the crew trying to wrap themselves around solving the most basic survival needs, as the episode names indicate, Air, Light, Water… Episodes filled with the grimness and stress of their situation, but little humor or action to break the ice.  Frankly, not bad episodes, but not great either.   However I’m embarrassed to say it took me until the most recent episode, Justice, to figure out what “edgy” was supposed to mean.

The producers were not doing the Stargate version of Voyager; they were doing the Stargate version of Battlestar Galactica.

Galactica (the updated version, not the 1970’s feathered hair version) was almost revolutionary in it’s approach.  It stripped out the aliens, weird spatial phenomena, time travel, technobabble, and other props of the SF genre and just left the people; highly imperfect people.  Heroes were not always heroic, or truthful, villains were not always villainous, or lying.  Galactica raised the bar on TV science fiction, making it an adult drama, and the Emmy’s that Galactica won during its 5 season run bear that out.

So I consider myself fully on board with Stargate Universe now, and feel free to recommend the show, although with caveats.  While Galactica had me hooked with the first miniseries that launched the show, I’ve been mulling over Stargate Universe.  I was not hooked until recently.  It may be that just my expectations of what a Stargate show should be made me blind to what the producers were trying to do with this version of Stargate.  This isn’t your geeky father’s Stargate.  It definitely has a different feel to the show, dare I say edgier?

Why bring this up now?  The show has been on for months.

True, but the show is on a brief hiatus until the spring and tomorrow the Syfy channel is running all nine of the previously aired episodes back to back all day.  So if you are out of work, nerdy, and somehow missed the previous showings, now is a good opportunity to catch up.

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