The Costanza-Hoover Principle

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In a crisis where Nobel laureates disagree on what to do, Manzi cuts to the chase:

The strongest argument for the stimulus (and the one that I think, in their heart-of-hearts, most supporters actually hold) is what could be called the Costanza-Hoover Principle: do the opposite of whatever Herbert Hoover did. In a world of limited knowledge, this isn’t as crazy as it might seem, at least as a starting point. It sure seems like Hoover screwed up; and hopefully we can avoid his mistakes. This pretty much boils down to: avoid a tariff war; don’t try to balance the budget right now; don’t restrict the money supply (that gold standard thing is right out); and, most importantly, prevent a collapse of the banking system.

This principle would lead to deficits (and as a practical matter, we are going to have large deficits for some time), but would also lead to us trying to feel our way into it, rather than making a huge commitment all at once. So-called boldness in the face of ignorance is simply lack of judgment.

I just wish the GOP had been as worried about debt these past eight years the way they have these past three weeks. If they had, we'd have far better options in front of us. For my part, I can't see how this will work unless the US government proves it can ameliorate its long-term entitlement problem. Medicare mainly.

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