Libertarian Commentary on the News, #14-33E: Economics, the depressing science

by Nathan Barton

Good morning.  Economics can be fun, if you enjoy getting depressed.  Too many downers for me.  Of course, those who are not blind can see the constant drum of bad news for most sectors of our economy, triggered in large part by the booming nature of government sector growth.

The average price for all types of ground beef per pound hit its all-time high in the United States in July, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  This is a combination of factors, of course: last Fall’s massive  blizzard and kill-off in the Northern Plains being one.  But government policies, inflation (yeah, of COURSE it is controlled) and regulatory overburden (TM) all play a roll.  I hear more and more people hit hard by it.  Similar problems for ham and other pork products, due to a visciously-nasty swine flu.  Of course, some people don’t have to worry as much as others.

Who is broke?  Who cares? Bankrupt Detroit breaks ground on a new 3.3-mile streetcar line, a luxury in a city where a lot of the remaining people can barely afford to WALK anyplace.  Even if it were safe to do so.  And you can be sure that the contractors, the unions, and especially the beloved politicos and bureaucrats of Detroit, the other cities nearby, and Wayne County will not have to worry about whether or not they can afford hamburger.

Risky Business: Will taxpayers bail out health insurers? The Affordable Care Act established three mechanisms to handle insurers’ risks: risk adjustment, reinsurance and risk corridors.  Will any of these (all of which involve subsidies from government using stolen taxpayers’ money) be used, or will the administration push for them to fail so that a single-payer system (and no doubt conscription) can be implemented?  And of course, the executives and much of the staff of these insurers will have to be hired by the FedGov (or the states) to carry out the work they “could not do” when privately employed.

Don’t Give SSDI a Bailout, some groups are asking (or recommending).  The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund is set to go bankrupt in 2016.  We can expect Congress to ignore these, lest Ferguson seem like a peaceful place. The bailouts will continue until the disabled are able to be relocated to “work camps” where they can usefully serve their nation.

Speaking of more government overburden (TM), consider the next story.

A new FDA proposal will impose heavy costs on onion farmers. But the proposed onion regulation has no safety benefits: it just requires and supports MORE bureaucracy and more control by government.  Both directly and indirectly, the customers/taxpayers pay for it.  I don’t know if this sort of thing is what leads to problems like the next one, but it may.

What is $100 worth in different states? $100 is worth 40 percent more in Mississippi than the same amount of money in Washington, D.C. The cost of living is NOT some imaginary thing, but a real-life measure of how location, including government, can destroy people’s lives.  It is more than just housing, of course: try to get a decent meal at a fast-food place within 10 miles of the Golden Gate, or on Long Island, and see what I mean.

Tax-Free Weekends: Is that a good policy for states OR local governments? Massachusetts is one of 17 states that have held, or will hold, a sales tax holiday in 2014.  These quaint little “steam-venting” are cherished by parents, as they usually coincide with back-to-school sales and purchases.  But there are some serious drawbacks from the government finance and administration side of things, AND from the retailer side.  But the most SERIOUS drawback is that we should have a 365-day/year sales tax holiday.  Maybe with a little donation box next to the cash register like for Jerry’s Kids:  “Please contribute your spare change to local government service agencies.  Please care.”

The unseasonal cold weather in the Appalachians of Pennsylvania has the leaves changing color this month instead of the normal time in September, and of course, this is blamed on global warming – manmade global warming.  Ah, yes, the scam that keeps on taking and taking.  I realize this isn’t directly an economic issue, but there are a lot of tourist traps in those mountains that are losing a LOT of Fall business because the colors came early.  And honestly, for once, like the October blizzards, we can’t really blame government or people.

Mama’s Note: This has been the coolest summer I can remember in my entire life. I’ve enjoyed it, for the most part, but was alarmed to see the forecast for next week includes night time temps under 50 degrees. In August? That’s bizarre. After a long, exceptionally cool and wet spring, a cool summer, and now an evidently early and cool fall… I will have to reconsider what sort of things I plant in my garden next year. Tomatoes are about my favorite crop, but they will not set fruit if the night temp goes below 50 degrees. I’ll have to concentrate more on cabbage and other cool weather crops.

About tpolnathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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