Home Again, Home Again

houseI spent most of July in the UK, with limited Internet access (exacerbated by my Verizon iPhone’s inability to communicate with the European cellular services), and (I’ve only just realized this now) without buying even a single newspaper. So I know almost nothing of what’s gone on in the U.S. over the past several weeks, except for some vague sense that there was a brouhaha over raising the debt ceiling. Even over the few days I’ve been back, I’ve felt no urgency about catching up, though I’m sure that will kick in any day now.

There was, of course, never any need to raise the debt ceiling; there was only a need to prioritize debt service over other stuff the government shouldn’t be doing anyway. To a very rough approximation, the annual budgets of the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture and Labor add up to the annual interest payments on the national debt.

Be that as it may, it will be interesting to catch up on the news and see what got cut. For now, I’ll just say that if we still have a Department of Commerce, then they didn’t cut enough. If we still have a Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or a National Endowment for the Arts or Humanities, then they didn’t even try.

But now that I’m back, I’m unlikely to dwell on what’s become old news. My plan is to ramp back up to regular blogging, starting with a few things that struck me as noteworthy while I was traveling in Britain. I hope you’ll forgive my long absence. It’s good to be back.

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14 Responses to “Home Again, Home Again”


  1. 1 1 Dave

    Let’s not pretend that the last vote was anything but giving the government the authority to raise the debt TARGET.

    Welcome back Steven!

  2. 2 2 n+1

    Glad to have you back. I don’t want to spoil your homecoming, but I’m curious why you advocate cutting some of those programs.

    I can dig up old blog posts and see some short arguments for cutting the departments of labor, commerce, and agriculture. Elaboration on those would be nice, but I’m not going to push my luck. But what’s your reasoning for the NEA/NEH/CPB? It’s easy to argue that there are positive externalities when a public radio or TV station makes a broadcast. In the same way that there ought to be more public murals in the world (although Philadelphia may be overdoing it).
    So as long as they’re done properly, these sorts of programs ought to be good. Why do these suck? (Aside from your personal feelings toward NPR)

  3. 3 3 Josh

    Not much has changed. Krugman is getting angrier and angrier everyday and ever more certain he is right about everything, while other Nobel-prize winning economists remain certain he’s wrong. The interesting times in the world of economics continues.

  4. 4 4 sabre51

    And it’s good to have you back. There are only a few blogs which I can stomach enough to read every post, so when one goes on vacation it is quite a tragedy (thouh my boss might disagree).

    BTW, I know this is long removed now, but I seem to remember a quote from your post about Grothendieck’s intellectual property, something along the lines of “someday soon I will blog about that vision.” I don’t know why this has been in my head lately, but if you get a chance to do so I would very much enjoy reading it. Thanks for making the internet a little brighter.

  5. 5 5 S.V.

    Economics remains as the dismal science.

  6. 6 6 Wonks Anonymous

    The real money is in entitlements. Which they explicitly separated off.

  7. 7 7 Ken B

    Topic suggestion: “What is an Autrian and Why I am or am not one”

  8. 8 8 Ken B

    @n+2: Because these organizations and those they support have the opportunity to compete in the market. People can buy their wares already if the price is right. There is no reason force consumers not inclined to buy their product to buy their product. But that is what these agencies do. A voluntary exchange benefits both parties, a forced exchange like this does not. So even aside from abuse and overhead these agencies reduce overall economic efficiency and reduce net utility.

    Plus NPR sucks.

  9. 9 9 Super-Fly

    You didn’t miss much other than quite a bit of sound and fury and posturing for constituents. To sum up the headlines: Republicans wanted to take social security checks from grandparents instead of cutting the military while Democrats thought we should tax the rich because they aren’t paying enough and/or paying taxes is patriotic. (I think we should set a day where we all mail copies of Bastiat to the White House/Congressmen.)

    Looking forward to the posts. My suggestions are unemployment/inflation (and their causes/effects) or possibly a refreshing math post.

  10. 10 10 Kenny

    Welcome back!

  11. 11 11 ConnGator

    It sure seems like a no-brainer to change the social security calculation from rising with GPD to rising with inflation. Can someone please give me a reason this is not done?

    This by itself would solve over 1/3 of the long-term debt problem.

  12. 12 12 David

    Could you not read any newspapers? I find it hard to believe there was no coverage there.

  13. 13 13 David

    Oh wait, I just caught the newspaper comment in the article, my bad.

  14. 14 14 Brian 2

    “It sure seems like a no-brainer to change the social security calculation from rising with GPD to rising with inflation. Can someone please give me a reason this is not done?”

    Old people vote.

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