Monday, November 28, 2011

Is spending out of control?

Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. Despite the troubles we face, individually and as a country, it’s amazing how much we have to be grateful for. It’s also surprising how focusing on being thankful rather than gratifying our desires makes us so much more happy. While Mitt week may turn into a Mitt fortnight (yes, the book was that interesting), I thought I’d make a quick post about the other side of the aisle for a moment.

Whenever you hear someone denigrating President Obama the most common line of attack revolves around the fact that government spending has risen sharply during the last several years. While spending has risen, the vast majority of this spending is due to the continued economic malaise and not the fact that a liberal is in charge. Paul Krugman makes this point very well here (with a nice pie chart even), and, no, Krugman isn’t just a hyper-partisan. A couple of points to keep in mind. First, government spending is usually expressed as a percentage of GDP. When GDP shrinks (as happened during the recession) the spending/GDP ratio goes up even if the number of dollars spent stays the same. The second point is that during recessions, the government has to spend more money on things like Medicare, food stamps, and unemployment benefits because of all the people out of work. No matter what the president does, the social safety net is going to cost more when more people need it. This is good to keep in mind when people are ranting and raving. Do click through to Krugman and see specifically where the spending has gone.

I plan to read Obama’s books before the election, so this will be the first of many posts examining his past policies, general worldview, and plans for fixing the economy. In the near future I’d like to diversify here a bit as well and blog about common scientific/logical fallacies and the culture (restaurants, skiing, hikes, shops, events, urban planning) that is Salt Lake City.

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