Some Economic Thinking Points for Thinkers This Coming Monday
A general discussion of the underlying economics in our mostly mind numbing political discussions of the three months leading up to something referred to as an election, the Thinkers were hoping to have a more high minded discussion on the differences between two polar opposite views of the macroeconomic universe we live in: a more pure take on capitalism whose most recognized leader was Milton Friedman and a modulated take on how markets work better by considering the ideas of James Maynard Keynes. In simplistic terms from our modern, troubled economic times, this moves the discussion to a battle between austerity versus stimulus, something we hear so much about in our political discussions of the day.
If you want to join the discussion, click on the link below:
Here are some focus points for our talk this coming Monday at the Carrollwood Cultural Center August 20 at 6:30 PM.
1. Are the rules of engagement in our discussions entirely different since the end of the Cold War? When the Soviets gave up the socialist/communist doctrine and the West and capitalism essentially won the war, what has changed in our discussions because of this?
2. Is the net effect of capitalism winning throughout the world in almost all countries essentially a refocusing of what levels of control (regulation) civil society must consider to steward their economies in ways that do more good than harm?
3. There are practical considerations in these situations where economies start creating more harm than normal, those times commonly referred to as recessions. A focus for this would be that most can acknowledge a capitalist engine is needed to create the wealth where opportunities reside, but is not the idea of ‘stimulating’ a sick economy back to health not equally valid. In fact there is strong evidence stimulus was the major reason that the recessions of 1982, 1991, and 2000 were nursed more quickly to health by varied stimulus packages.
4. Economic discussions in modern political contexts are essentially reality TV shows designed for those with limited understandings that look more like wrasslin’ matches than anything else. Is it no longer possible to carry on academic debates in this universe?
5. Given that we are in this dumbed down environment, what are the common ‘talking points’ we here that might fit into either side of the Friedman and Keynes world views?
6. Between the economic theories we might discuss at high levels, there is another consideration that we must bring forth. One of the real problems exposed glaringly since the worldwide economic crash in late 2008 is we are living in a universe with far less opportunity for individuals, particularly younger individuals, than years past. Is there a way out of this?
Though there are untold additional topics for discussion, these should stoke the fires of thought. Hopefully this will encourage you to think about coming this coming Monday.
To Thinkers Preferring Economic Starvation or Gluttony:
As we get closer and closer to this thing we call an election in 2012, the various candidates for all federal offices and most state offices appear fixated on the polemics of whether government should stimulate economic activities during these awful times or should there be efforts to reduce if not eliminate government intervention and let the ‘markets’ sort things out. Though most of the discussions during this 2012 election cycle are mind numbing simpleton two line discourses that mean less than nothing, there is a basic philosophy that is going on in the efforts to convince voters of something. Most of the discussions fall back on whether you wish to take on an interventionist approach advocated most starkly by John Maynard Keynes or you argue that these efforts just muck up the soup and you need leave well enough alone because the free market, as perfect as it is, eventually repairs itself if left alone.
For our August Thinkers meeting we will try to take a more than sound bite approach to these arguments and consider whether there are merits to the stimulus vs austerity blather that has infested our modern 24/7 news channel punditry. There are merits to both approaches and much data in our modern times to argue both sides of the divide. Though falling back on Keynes or Friedman and getting into the muck and mire of fiscal or monetary policy adjustments if not outright interventions might drive us to drink, I would like to center on a pair of more modern polemicists: Paul Krugman, The Stimulator, versus Arthur Laffer, The Trickle-a-tor. Krugman has been on top of things lately having his watchtower Mondays and Fridays at the NY Times, but Dr Laffer has had his moments like when he had a very interesting exchange with Professor Krugman on that arbiter of solutions, Bill Maher. Check it out at the link below.
I will use the contents of two recent books as the centerpiece for the debate. The obvious one to start with will be too look at the recent Krugman tome End This Depression Now that I would point you to this summary to get up to speed. It is quite clever and is at the link below.
And not to be outdone, Professor Laffer has a recent book titled The End of Prosperity that he co-authored with two others including the neo-conservative of economics from the Wall Street Journal, Stephen Moore to counter the arguments from the lefties. An outline is offered below
After looking at these two positions, there isn’t much room for compromise, but maybe we can come up with something if we get twenty or so Thinkers in the room and consider if there are some merits in common that are not entirely contradictory.
Please consider coming to see if we can make something smart that in popular political culture at the moment is about as dumb as you can get.
And by the way, the one thing Friedman and Laffer agree on is that this is a depression, not a recession. Think about that.