David R. Henderson  

My Morning's Web Reading

Classics from the American ... My Tax Dollars at Work...

I found a lot of good and informative pieces on the Web this morning and so, rather than pick one to highlight in depth, I'll name a few and say a little about, or quote a little from, each.

Ivan Eland, "Tear Down This Wall (of Fame): Reagan's Overrated Foreign Policy."

Despite his rhetoric of limiting government, Reagan presided over an increase in federal spending as a portion of GDP during his two terms. This contrasts with the administrations of Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton, which reduced such spending as a percentage of GDP. Clinton even reduced federal spending per capita, the only president since Harry Truman to do so.

Tad DeHaven, "OMB Director Lew on the New Budget."
The title of the piece, "The Easy Cuts Are Behind Us," is a real head-scratcher. Lew's "easy cuts" are an apparent reference to the $20 billion in savings the president proposed in his previous budgets. Considering that the president proposed total spending of $3.8 trillion last year, $20 billion in gross cuts was an insignificant gesture to say the least. In reality, the Bush administration passed the spending baton to the Obama administration two years ago and it promptly sprinted off like Usain Bolt.

Neal McCluskey. "GAO Confirms It Did Nothing Wrong and It's None of Your Business."
GAO stands for Government Accountability Office. What's the best way to teach people to be accountable? Any good parent or teacher knows: model that behavior yourself. McCluskey shows that the GAO didn't do so when it made a major mistake. All the links in his piece are worth following. One highlight from the GAO's press release:

Our goal is to never have to issue revisions. As a result of this internal review we are immediately implementing the reviewers' recommendations to tighten up our process to ensure such issues do not occur again.

If your goal is "to never have to issue revisions," think of the lengths you'll go to not to issue revisions. Of course, the GAO wants you to think the only margin on which it will adjust is the quality of its reports. It may well do that, but it will adjust on other margins too, like covering up. It's interesting that it won't reveal the results of its internal investigation.

S.M. Oliva. "The FTC vs. the FTC."

The Federal Trade Commission has two principal components: the Bureau of Competition and the Bureau of Consumer Protection. These bureaus have seemingly contradictory objectives. The "competition" side of the FTC complains when there are too few firms in a given industry vying to serve customers. Meanwhile, the "consumer-protection" side works frantically to reduce the number of firms by presuming a one-size-fits-all vision of what the hypothetical consumer should want.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (6 to date)
Ak Mike writes:

The president is not in charge of the amount of the budget. That's the province of Congress - see the beginning of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. It was the Democratic Congress that raised federal spending during Reagan's term, and the Republican Congress that slowed the rise during Clinton's.

ColoComment writes:

Re: Eland article. I impose a huge discount on any article that ascribes to any President the apparent sole responsibility for national budget/spending/taxation, without any discussion of the composition of the congress(es) with which he dealt.

I see I'm too late with this comment. Good going, Ak Mike!

ChrisA writes:

The FTC vs the FTC article reminds me of what the lawyer told me in my anti-trust training a few years ago. Basically in the US you have to be careful if you charge less than your competitors as that's dumping. Also you can be investigated for charging more than your competitors as that's gouging, but for heavens sake don't charge the same as your competitors as that's collusion.

Shayne Cook writes:

Re: the Eland article ...

First, ditto Ak Mike and ColoComment. Nice catch. It seems Mr. Eland made use of nearly every "National Inquirer" grade mis-informational device to belittle Reagan and his service to the United States. Curious. I was beginning to believe that, in the face of so much readily available RELIABLE information these days, this sort of journalistic drivel would be dying away.

Second, I'll confess my biases. I think Reagan's accomplishments in office were of enormous service to the United States and humanity at large. Of course, I'm heavily reliant on facts rather than mis-information to support those beliefs.

Bill writes:

Didn't the wall coming down and the subsequent breaking up of the Soviet Union reduce government influence in many people's lives? That would seem to be a fairly libertarian policy accomplishment.

ColoComment writes:

Re: GAO report, and GAO press release.

I noted this statement in the press release: "...however there were process, supervisory and analytical weaknesses that led to errors and missing context."

That sounds like a pretty damning statement to me. The areas of "process, supervisory and analytical" seem to cover just about all the ingredients of a totally messed up food chain of responsibility.

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