Friday, July 11, 2014

A conservative attempts to eat his own.

John Tamny
John Tamny is editor of “RealClearMarkets,” part of the conservative “RealClearPolitics” website. Tamny, employing his editorial prerogative, has published a 5,034-word essay at a website mostly noted for 600-word op-eds.  All Tamny's 5,000 words attempt to demolish an e-book by fellow conservatives titled, Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms For a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class.

Tamny highlights the weakness of his arguments not only with length, but also with loaded language: “gauzy condescension,” “plainly dishonest,” “completely glossing over the impressive economic ineptitude of . . . George W. Bush,” “comically asserts,” “laughably absurd,” “plainly false,” “tired policy proposals,” “err impressively,” “horrid imposition, “sheepishly admitted,” “obvious omission,” “oddly tried,” “surely once knew,” “weak minds,” “wholly worthless.” Such words cover the absence of facts.

As for the arguments themselves, Tamny tells us:
Foreigners didn't and don't risk their lives to reach the United States for security, or the "promise" of anything. They took and take those risks because they want freedom.
What about the vast majority who fled oppression? “Freedom” just to live actually meant security more than it meant dog-eat-dog unbridled capitalism. Scraping together a living is the price immigrants were and are willing to pay to escape oppression. But while many did come for the right to keep what they earned, the “masses yearning to be free” want(ed) personal security.

Besides employing sarcasm, Tamny misuses China to argue “who needs education?”--a most surprising approach since Chinese culture worships education.

Tamny writes:
Top-level classroom instruction will supposedly make us taller, better looking, wealthier, and just about everything else. . . we can't ignore highly undereducated China's modern economic rise. . . As Fox Butterfield wrote about Chinese education in his 1982 book China: Alive In the Bitter Sea, "12% of those who finish primary school are unable to go on to junior high, and there is no room in high school for 50% of the students who complete junior high." Regarding access to college education, Butterfield reported that "only 3% of the college-age population in China, about a million students, can get into university." . .Butterfield wrote about how the Guanming Daily "groused that China ranked 113 out of a list of 141 countries in the world in percentage of its young people who get a post-secondary education."
Tamny’s reliance on Butterfield’s book--32 years out of date--undermines his assertion that Chinese succeed without education. In Butterfield’s time, the Chinese were extremely upset about how much Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966-76) had disrupted education, leading to the Guanming Daily’s concern--please note the newspaper is a government-run organ--about China’s low world ranking in education.

The China picture is vastly different today--Shanghai high school students top the world in reading, math, and science. China worships education and has responded accordingly. Tamny by inference associates himself with the anti-education Mao.

Tamny is apparently a “gold bug,” writing:
For centuries gold has been the definer of money not because it's pretty, but because it's so historically stable in value. When money floats in value, disharmony is brought into trade, and investment is distorted.
That’s not quite right. Gold, in fact, has a well-established negative relationship both to the dollar’s value and the value of most other currencies in the trade weighted U.S. dollar index. A weak dollar helps our balance of trade--it’s why we accused both Japan in the 1980s and China in the decades since of keeping their currencies weak to boost exports.

To Tamny:
not only can income not be planned, neither can money supply. Because it can't, any policy meant to plan it by definition ensures unstable money values that render investment rather cautious. To state the obvious, . . . investors are loath to commit capital that, if they're lucky enough to achieve returns, will come back in soggy dollars
It’s true that extremely low inflation rates--the result of the Fed’s current easy money policies designed to boost job creation--discourage investment dollars looking for a high real rate of return. But Tamny seems unrealistically determined to do away with government:
[Book co-author Peter] Wehner argues that conservatives need to stop talking "about what the government should not be doing." In truth, economic growth is weak today precisely because the government is doing too much. Economic growth is once again easy, and it's as simple as politicians getting out of the way.
And “simple” today may also mean politicians who don’t give voters the security they want will soon be out of office.

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