Shorter Brad DeLong

Faced with today’s economy, Keynes would have called for fiscal expansion; Friedman would have called for monetary expansion. What now passes for the “centrist” position – let the economy stew in its own juices – is clinically insane.

In a situation of grossly deficit demand leading to mass unemployment of resources, fiscal expansion is the program that would be favored by a moderate conservative (such as Keynes). A more rigid conservative (such as Milton Friedman) would back monetary expansion.

What now passes, not just for the right wing of American politics, but the center, favors neither one. It favors letting the economy stew in its own juice.

This is clinically insane.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

9 thoughts on “Shorter Brad DeLong”

  1. When will you post a much needed post discussing how the ‘new normal’ in the political world requires a supermajority of 60 votes with the added detriment of the majority not even forcing Republicans to filibuster? Buffett rule is a perfect example. Please explain the proper response voters should have to this new sad state of affairs.

    1. Become a yellow dog.

      If you can’t bring yourself to do that, refuse to cast a vote for any Republican until the GOP shows that it is prepared to join the adults at the grown-up table.

  2. The proper voter response is to vote Democratic in all elections for national office and almost all elections for state and local office; to give money to Democratic candidates and party committees; to engage in whatever level of person-to-person persuasion you’re comfortable with; and to suspend intra-party and intra-progressive rancor for the duration of the hostilities. Friends don’t let friends vote Republican, vote for third parties, or fail to vote.

    1. This makes me smile. Much better advice than can be found slogging through Empire or Multitude

  3. Mark, you may be disappointed to find that Keynes, and fiscal response to dramatic drop in demand, are no longer considered moderately conservative, or even moderately progressive. A large number of our elected officials, and a large number of the gullible public they continue to dupe, consider any fiscal expansion to be a left-wing/socialist plot to overthrow the America we’ve always known and to install a Communist cabal that will confiscate all your hard-earned savings and turn them over to the lazy poor people who don’t want to work.

  4. Keynes was not a “moderate conservative”. He was a supporter of the British Liberal party throughout his career. The moderate conservatives you are looking for are Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

    This blog post explains why the centre is opposed to stimulus better than I could. There really is a large number of people in America (and other rich countries, including Japan where this has been going on for over a decade without the pitchforks coming out) who are just fine with catastrophic deflation, and they vote.

    The 1%ers and their pet Republicans are not opposed to stimulus – they knew what Reagan was doing, and they supported it. They are opposed to allowing the government to work when a Democrat is in the White House.

    1. Keynes was not a “moderate conservative”. He was a supporter of the British Liberal party throughout his career.

      Supporting the Liberals (rather than Labor or the Conservatives) is, in fact, strong evidence for the proposition that Keynes was a moderate conservative.

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