Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Peas, Stuffed Cabbage Balls, and the No-Camp Camp of Economic Policy

As a recent member of the Septuagenarian Club I am working hard on balance. Old people fall down a lot even when they have not partaken of JD tasting rituals. So working on balance is important if one values his hips, shoulders, and other decaying body parts. Getting depressed yet? Getting old ain’t no picnic you know.

But this piece is not about aging or falling down. It is about restoring balance in economic policy in this country. While it sounds obvious that balance might be an appropriate goal, this conclusion is not shared by everyone and the move towards balance is not easily attained. Stand on one leg and close your eyes and you will see what I mean.

American is very unbalanced. We have our camps. The blue camp likes more government intervention. The blue camp prefers to increase spending and worry later about the debts. The blue camp wants to regulate banks, shadow banks, and various companies. The red camp says they worry about government deficits but often favor tax cuts that create them anyway. The Red camp favors deregulation and generally a smaller intervention by government. And now there is forming a Trump camp. The Trump camp is not so much a camp as it is family of camps with no identifying color.

I kind of like the no-camp camp. The no-camp camp is a little closer to what I might call balance. The no-camp camp can favor more government spending and at the same time propose tax cuts. It believes that somehow lower tax rates and higher spending will not cause the deficit to increase. It also says it wants to reduce many recently imposed government regulations.

How could I like this no-camp camp? If balance enrages extremes then it immediately has strong minuses. Notice that balance means that the blues will scream about a proposed diminishing role of government while the reds yell that the government is still too big. This no-camp camp will quickly enlist enemies from all the traditional camps. This will not be easy to overcome.

Overcoming the negatives shouted by the traditional camps means focusing on the positives gained by each camp from the no-camp camp. More spending on infrastructure is widely viewed to be beneficial on many fronts since it generates income to the working class while it improves productivity. Red and blue will like that one. Tax cuts for the middle class can restore losses in earning power to that group. Blues will like that. Tax cuts for the wealthy should be good for national investment spending and declines in corporate income taxes and should boost the competitiveness of US companies and American cities. Can you hear the reds cheering?

More contentious is how government deregulation can promote jobs and growth in energy and healthcare. But the clear point is that a slowdown of regulation in these areas could produce jobs and income growth. One does not have to be a climate skeptic or a hater of the poor to believe that a temporary hiatus of regulation in those areas might produce important beneficial growth effects. Get the economy humming again and then return to more vigorous ways to remedy global warming and coverage of health care.

What I am suggesting here is that a no-camp camp set of policies provides balance as it contains features that both annoy and amuse everyone. It’s like my mom used to say to me – Larry, eat your peas and then you can have another stuffed cabbage ball. In the distant past the two political parties would compromise on economic policies. Give a little get a little was the slogan. More recently with strong influence by ideological extremes we quit doing that. You can eat the peas or the stuffed cabbage balls. Not both. And the nation has suffered from this standoff.

Many of us don’t like Trump for one reason or another. What I am suggesting is that since Trump has no real connection to either party or ideology, he might be the perfect person to get us back to some much needed balance in policy. I guess we will see in the near future. He has to come through with policies that make some sense. As voters, we need to be ready to eat our peas. Hopefully the meatballs will make it worth our while. 

1 comment:

  1. Being a practical moderate I love balance but it is often painful to get and sustain. We need to work toward it. As for energy, read the book
    "The Titans"' and the role that Tesla played. He lost but had he known what was coming and was smart enough to take advantage of that knowledge we would have a completely different and more balanced economy. Edison was persuaded to give up on electric cars for the self serving ideas of Carnegy, Flagler and Rockefeller. Anyway, today there is a chemical which is derived from growing special graphite crystals called graphene....look it up. It holds 5 times the electric charge than the best lithium ion battery at 1/5 the size and density. Electric charges come from many sources but the easiest and cleanest to get is solar...... using what is called bug eye photovoltaic cells that take in light from a 180 degrees rather than the common 57 degree span used now. The problem is the growth of the crystals is slow. Use your imagination to think of the possibilities and who may be holding them back. Between the two there is a balance, more people will be working, less environment will be damaged and the two "camps" will have less regulation to deal out.