Saturday, December 11, 2010
A somewhat-detailed breakdown of the federal budget. When you look at where federal dollars go, it becomes pretty obvious why it’s so hard to balance the budget.
The largest program is Medicare, with defense and Social Security coming in close seconds. Combined, these three programs consume more than half of the federal budget. No political party has shown much interest in cutting defense or welfare entitlements to seniors, so you’d have to cut virtually everything else to eliminate the deficit: no federal transportation, education funding, veterans benefits, etc. Most of these programs are relatively small, and they’re also pretty efficient—the government gets a lot of value from the dollars spent. (The obvious exception is education.)
Social Security, and especially Medicare, grow rapidly relative to tax revenue increases. Some policy experts estimate that Medicare will consume well over half of the budget—by itself—before my generation sees any benefits. Basically, our budget situation is bleak, and it grows worse over time.
The political obstacles intimidate more than the practical problems. The party of, umm, limited government—the Republican Party—is also the party of the aging white person. The party’s only solid constituency thus depends on the Medicare and Social Security Benefits that are the biggest roadblocks to any kind of real fiscal sanity. The Democrats are similarly hopeless. Case in point: the largest entitlement expansion since the Johnson administration. (See my post over the summer at FrumForum.com for why I think the health “reform” package is an utter disaster from a cost-cutting perspective.) Democrats seem to think that rolling back the Bush tax cuts will do a lot to fix our fiscal situation, but even with marginal tax rates of 100 percent on the richest Americans, we would still have a budget deficit. That kind of a tax policy would also be a disaster from a growth perspective. I tend to put Democrats who whine about the budgetary effects of tax cuts in the same category as Republicans who whine about international aid for the same reasons. Though it does make a lot of sense to reform the tax code so that it collects more revenues without depressing economic growth.
I actually don’t think we’re totally screwed. Hopefully Bernanke’s new round of QE at the Federal Reserve does some good, and if the Republican House can help (and control) the president, we may get some confidence-inducing government over the next couple of years. Regardless, market economies tend to recover. A stable growth rate and further reforms to the health care system will fix the budgetary mess over time, so long as politicians can resist the urge to pile on. Given our political climate’s new emphasis on the deficit, there’s a pretty good chance that will happen.
That said, I’m still crossing my fingers for a Mitch Daniels run in 2012.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Though I don’t know that I’d make fun of scientologists. Don’t they control all the levers of power?
Most of first-year students at Yale Law School are mired in a 30-page writing assignment called a “brief,” which is a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one.
Anyways, apparently the Whiffenpoofs (or something like that), a Yale acappella group, is having an open-bar event to celebrate their appearance on some reality show. Hopefully I can get done in time to go…
The highlight of the evening was talking with the professors who taught here as far back as the 1950s.
Some of them were colleagues of Robert Bork's when he was a Yale Law School professor. Bork was one of the first conservative thinkers I read in my youth, so it was interesting to hear personal stories.
One of the professors told me that Bork was brilliant, but became more argumentative as time wore on.
Another chimed in: "He was an asshole."
Saturday, September 18, 2010
So this is my inaugural post. It may be the first for a while. I just wanted to set everything up and write a little background. If I ever start using this frequently, I'll probably move this post into some sort of bio section.
Why start a blog? I have two reasons. The first is that I'm setting off on this new adventure, and I'd like to stay anchored and analyze the experience. So it's like a diary, only far more masculine. I also want to keep my friends and family up to date on how life's treating me
To give a brief background: I'm 26 years old, living in New Haven, Connecticut, and I just started my first year at the Yale Law School. (Wikipedia article provided for convenience: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yale_Law_School) My roots run deep in Ohio--headquarters for nearly all family and friends, and Kentucky, which I've learned is where my family gets its bravado and culture. That explains the blog's name: I am an Appalachian white boy in style and disposition, but I've just begun training at the world's premier center for elites. So I come from one world and I'm joining a bizarrely different one, and I don't know what to think about it. If nothing else, this blog will strive to do just that--think about it.
I also think it's nice to have an outlet, so I'll probably spout off about politics, sports, news, etc. Once I start posting regularly, I'll send this thing out to everyone.
For now, I need to get something to eat. I could really go for some soup beans n' cornbread, but I'll probably have to settle on Thai food. I don't know of any place that sells cornbread, but there five Thai places within walking distance of my house. Yep, not in Kansas anymore.