Along the Tracks

Friday, October 31, 2003

Even the NYT questions the Ninth

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is considered the most “liberal” of the appeals courts - it’s the one which ruled “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. It gets reversed by the Supreme Court more than any other appeals court in the fed system.

Today, even the New York Times wonders what the court was thinking when it made it easier for public entities to bring libel suits to trial. You’d think maximizing press freedom would be the “liberal” direction, not increasing restrictions. And they’ve never been pro-business before (the specific case was brought by Suzuki for the 1988 Consumer Reports stories about roll-over problems with the Samurai). What gives?

Maybe they are “statist” liberals - a growing trend on the left, where accumulating government power seems to be the goal. Or maybe they follow the philosophy of Seinfeld’s George Castanza: Figure out what they believe they should do, then do the opposite.

Krugman at his best

If Paul Krugman stuck with economic analysis and dropped all the conspiratorial, anti-Republican crap, I’d read everything he put out.

Today, he puts together a very sensible, well-formed critique of yesterday’s GDP news, and makes a point I think most conservatives would fully agree with - if Bush runs up the biggest deficits in history and can’t get the economy back to the employment levels of January 2001, his plan has serious problems.

I’d say the main monkey wrench is spending; Krugman would say it’s tax cuts - but we’d agree, there’s a major flaw here.

Krugman’s analysis of the specific numbers is not pessimistic. Rather he notes that a) tax cut checks are all spent, and b) mortgage rates are rising, so refinance savings have probably peaked. That influx of cash in the third quarter brought consumers out in droves, but now their wad is shot. Only broader increases in employment and wages will turn this boomlet into an expansion. Will that happen? Even Krugman says, “Maybe,” which is more than he was saying a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, he’s correct that only strong, sustained growth will bring payrolls back to pre-recession levels - and break-even isn’t much to brag about.

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