Spending Like Drunken Economists

Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes decide to bury their differences. Over a few beers, they hammer out a proposal that reflects a little of all their economic ideas.

What do you think you’d get out of it?

If you guessed $600, you may be right.

There are worse ideas than the so-called rebates likely to arrive in citizens’ mailboxes late this spring. These ideas include the progressive taxation and uncontrolled entitlement spending that feed the recession monster whom these “rebates” are supposed to distract with short-term consumer spending.

The problem with the “rebates” is that they represent an effort to quell the damage caused by redistributionary fiscal policy while embracing all the goals of the transfer society.

Returning to taxpayers all or some of the money plundered from their paychecks is always a good idea. Giving bigger rebates to the people who have paid lower taxes is a bad idea. Giving free money, which cannot properly be called rebates, to people who paid no taxes is a terrible idea.

And throwing money at consumers in the hopes that short-term spending will stave off recession represents the truly dangerous idea that government can and should “manage” the economy.

But that’s what the “stimulus package” calls for. It’s like a compromise hammered out by drunken economists.

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