Central-Planning Failure Notes From All Over

It's been proven, in an error-filled yet notably uncorrected story in Slate, that only deluded zealots believe in the free market. After all, it's clearly impossible for the random processes of natural selection to have produced robust biological diversity, or for the pattern of day and night to be regularly predictable in a universe whose center is not Earth. So why would we expect economic health from anything other than a closely and judiciously regulated market? 

Still, it's notable how many folks lately have been realizing things they might have seen coming just for the low, low cost of a subscription to Reason. (Or even The Freeman, for cryin’ out loud.) Some recent examples: 

Bob Shiller, one of this nation's most talented technocrats, inventor of the Case-Shiller housing index, and recent author of the Keynesian-revival book Animal Spirits, says the recession is back – and not because fancy equations with Greek letters say so, but because, when you’ve been in the game this long, ya just get a feeling in yer gut:

"Forecasting models would say no" on the question of whether the U.S. will face a double-dip, Shiller tells The Wall Street Journal. 

"But I’m seeing signs that encourage me to worry about that."

Shiller, one of the architects of the S&P Case-Shiller home-price index, says the housing market may see a pickup in prices this summer, but adds he's concerned about the long-term path the sector is taking... 

"It just doesn’t look good."

Meanwhile, in the Great White North (an enormous, wide-open country with almost no libertarians!), the real estate market is about to collapse – not because of the “devastating cuts in public investment” that usually cause such things, but just because, to quote a recent report, housing valuations have “lost touch with fundamentals.”

In the Golden State, meanwhile, a popular high-speed rail initiative that is 100-percent guaranteed to return the state to prosperity is getting attacked from a new angle: not Koch-funded haters of the commonweal but local nimbys who don’t want a 200-mph train running through their farms. San Joaquin farmers are heavily subsidized and energetic in lobbying for all kinds of carveouts and publicly provided water. In making their case against high-speed rail, the folks at the Central Valley Watchdogs site use the kind of extrapolated-figures arguments (e.g., that a single dairy cow generates “$34,000 in economic activity”) that worked us so much woe in the days of the ARRA Stimulus. But their main point that the bullet train will disrupt proven economies (in this case, one that employs three percent of the state’s workforce) is, again, something you read here first

Because of the importance of agriculture we oppose the high-speed rail cutting through farm land. It runs the risk of destroying businesses; businesses that are already contributing to the San Joaquin Valley’s economy. The High-Speed Rail has yet to be able to show a solid argument that it will generate revenue for the state. Besides all this, the rail authority hasn’t been able to show a) how they will get the money (can’t rely heavily on Feds) to fund this project and b) it doesn’t seem that they’re committed to actually completing the rail.

Until California has a balanced budget and paid off its debts and the Rail Authority can prove that the High-Speed Rail won’t be a drain on the tax-payers it needs to be put on hold. There is no sense destroying businesses that are already generating jobs and revenue for the state.

Also in California, Gov. Jerry Brown – last seen in these parts protecting consumers from the predations of Amazon – has vetoed a statewide “card-check” initiative favored by the unions that heavily supported him in the last election. PJ Tatler’s Bryan Preston

Gov. Moonbeam said “No” to the union power grab. I am genuinely surprised. My PJ colleagues in California…what happened here? Who got some Scott Walker in your Jerry Brown? Clearly, Brown failed to stay bought.

Brown has also been pushing to get rid of another sterling example of government of, by and for The People: the hundreds of “redevelopment agencies (RDAs)” that took over the mantle of urban renewal once “urban renewal” became a radioactive term.

Reports out of Sacramento say the governor just signed two RDA-defunding bills within the last few hours. If so, huzzah to him. [Update: Huzzah!] Regular readers know all about the RDA scam, and here’s another argument from Institute for Justice’s Jason Orr. But my friend Jill Stewart at LA Weekly, who isn’t exactly a firebrand for unregulated markets where pot dispensaries are concerned, very clearly describes what redevelopment actually is – a massive transfer of wealth to the already rich

[Christopher] Sutton, the CRA critic and attorney, says: "What we're doing with redevelopment is destroying pillars of society to subsidize rich people — this whole game of taking money away from basic services and things we depend on for civilized society: schools, police, fire, health."

He points to three billionaires who, before this week's budget deal in Sacramento, attracted millions in public subsidies from redevelopment agencies.

"How much is Glendale going to give [developer Rick] Caruso?" Sutton asks. "How much are we going to give [AEG owner Philip] Anschutz? Fifty-two mil to Eli Broad could have paid for 1,000 teachers. We subsidize billionaires instead of schoolchildren."

I’m not a big fan of utilitarian arguments for freedom, which I think ultimately must be defended on principle. But it’s striking how many pragmatists are looking at the results of public policy and deciding that they suck.

And in the day’s most important example of oppressors accepting the limits of control, the Oxford Style Guide has given up trying to force the serial comma on the English-speaking peoples. 

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  • Appalachian Australian||

    "A massive transfer of wealth to the already rich" is a great description of property taxes. Last I checked, the government is extremely rich by the standard of having lots of money to spend.

    In the earth-is-flat world of California, Jerry Brown is probably going to have a more fiscally conservative government than Meg Whitman would have; he can veto or ramrod through legislation that Democrats would otherwise fight tooth and nail as happened under the last administration.

  • Amakudari||

    As an ex-Californian, I've wondered about this myself. Were Whitman in office, not only would she be fighting RDA-loving Republicans, but she'd be fighting Democrats who make up most of California government and take being the opposition party quite seriously. And, of course, Whitman's not the good-government type, which is probably the only type with any appeal that can actually rein in California's spending at least somewhat.

  • Hugh Akston||

    It's been proven, in an error-filled yet notably uncorrected story in Slate, that only deluded zealots believe in the free market. After all, it's clearly impossible for the random processes of natural selection to have produced robust biological diversity, or for the pattern of day and night to be regularly predictable in a universe whose center is not Earth. So why would we expect economic health from anything other than a closely and judiciously regulated market?

    Tide comes in, tides goes out. You can't explain that.

    And in the day’s most important example of oppressors accepting the limits of control, the Oxford Style Guide has given up trying to force the serial comma on the English-speaking peoples.

    SRSLY, who uses punctuation when they talk? Serial commas are haughty, rigid and dated.

  • Almanian||

    Tide comes in, tides goes out. You can't explain that.

    *vigorous standing ovation*

  • fish||

    In other news: Person goes into water at public pool...dead body comes out....two days later. You can't explain that

    http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp.....x-20110629

  • Mango Punch||

    WTF

  • Jesse Jackson||

    SRSLY, who uses punctuation when they talk?

    I, sometimes, do

  • Mnemone Jones||

    SRSLY, who uses punctuation when they talk?

    William...Shatner.

  • Almanian||

    Now, Tim, see - THIS is yet another reason I come to...Reason. Dot com.

    EXCELLENT article, EPIC alt text...and I'll forgive the Flock of Vampire DuranJaGooGoo video for all that.

  • Almanian Richard Harris Voice||

    After all, it's clearly impossible for the random processes of natural selection to have produced robust biological diversity, or for the pattern of day and night to be regularly predictable in a universe whose center is not Earth. So why would we expect economic health from anything other than a closely and judiciously regulated market?

    That right there? That's foking POETRY! POETRY, mahn!

  • Paul Krugman||

    Double-dip, you say? Let me think; let me think.

    OKAY, I GOT IT!

    1) Blame Bush.
    2) Start another war.

    Fixed it. Nobel, please!

  • Friedrich Hayek||

    Is F.A. Hayek going to have to choke a bitch?

  • Eric Cartman||

    CRIPPLE FIGHT!!!

  • Thomas Malthus||

    I heard that two economists were fighting and I was just checking in to see. Wow, overpopulation DIDN'T ruin the planet. Hey, I admit it; I fucked up.

  • Adam Smith||

    Don't feel bad. I was wrong about absolute trade advantage.

  • ||

    Hey, you goddamn Christ-fag capitalist stooges better stop making fun of the genius of Paul Krugman.

  • Karl Marx||

    And I was wrong about pretty much everything. In fact, my ideas led to the murder of 100,000,000+.

  • Mnemone Jones||

    Wait, I'm confused. Was it the ideas' contents, or was it rather some group of douchebags who decided that the ideas themselves (regardless of content) were sacrosanct and more important than facts on the ground, to be maintained whether or not they worked and whether or not they killed?

  • ||

    The chances of a Republican replacing Brown? Are almost nil. If a Republican replaces Brown, it'll be someone to the "left" of Brown on the budget.
    And if there had been a Republican in office during this ridiculous charade? The Democrats in Sacramento would have hung this millstone around her neck... We'd be making even less progress.
    @ I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to
    our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a
    46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get
    all this stuff, BetaSell.com

  • John Maynard Keynes||

    2) Start another war.

    For every dollar you spend on it you will get more then a dollar back!!!

  • Maynard James Keenan||

    That's the kinda perverse logic that I used to convince my bandmates that making shitty music was profitable.

  • ||

    DIAF, you piece of diseased shit.

  • Mnemone Jones||

    That would be a piece of disgustipated shit.

  • ||

    "Gov. Moonbeam said “No” to the union power grab."

    Just for the record, it's possible--entirely possible--that Cavanaugh has been right about Governor Moonbeam all along. ...and I've been wrong.

    Call it the Nixon in China deal--whatever you want. I'm not sure anybody else could be doing a better job than Brown right now.

    So nobody should ever say that Ken Shultz can't admit it when he's wrong. This could all turn on a dime, but so far? I've been wrong about Governor Moonbeam, and Cavanaugh's been right.

    I mean, Cavanaugh's hardly a cheerleader for Brown either--but his assessment of Brown's strengths have been right on the money.

  • ||

    Call it the Nixon in China deal--whatever you want.

    I will call it Uberalis needs money to pay his bills or a Republican will replace him....so fuck the unions. Who else are they going to vote for.

  • ||

    The chances of a Republican replacing Brown? Are almost nil. If a Republican replaces Brown, it'll be someone to the "left" of Brown on the budget.

    And if there had been a Republican in office during this ridiculous charade? The Democrats in Sacramento would have hung this millstone around her neck... We'd be making even less progress.

    The only reason Brown has any traction at all on this--is because the Dems in Sacramento can't blame the Republicans for this.

    They can try! ...but nobody's buyin' it. Not come the next election. Republican victories in state wide elections aren't really Republican victories--no matter how the Republicans spin them...

    Republican wins are just bouts of general voter apathy. As soon as the Republicans get someone back in the Governorship, and the Dems have someone to scapegoat then? It's back to the budget a la Greek again.

    Here's my prediction: the campaign ads for next year will be dominated by reactions to what Republicans from out of state are doing. Even if it has nothing to do with California!

    Democrats running for California state offices will pitch themselves as the remedy to what whoever wins the Republican nomination for President is talking about. If it weren't for Republican bashing, the Democrats in the state legislature wouldn't have anything to talk about at all.

  • johnl||

    Brown got rid of redevelopment, which is what I voted for him for AG to do and he didn't, and which he should of gotten rid of 30 years abut didn't. But 3rd time is a charm.

  • ||

    And to be fair, if Meg Whitman were in this fight, I suspect the Democrats in Sacramento wouldn't give her an inch.

    They'd blame all the budget cuts on the Republicans.

  • johnl||

    And as long as he's governor, we don't have to pay his pension.

  • ||

    Wait, will libertarians no longer be everyone's boogeyman? It was only growing incredibly tiresome so far; no reason to stop!

  • Rachel Maddow||

    Fuck it, I was going to book Ron Paul for the Monday before the 2012 election so I could ask him if he would have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Don't fret, as the election continues to wind its way through the nation's collective large intestine, I'm sure libertarians will be held to account for everything they've done to cripple this country.

    Who knows, maybe we'll even see a Krystalibertarianacht next November.

  • Gene Roddenberry||

    Libertarians are kinda like Jews.

  • Mnemone Jones||

    They make good Vulcans and ship captains?

  • Paul||

    Who knows, maybe we'll even see a Krystalibertarianacht next November.

    I'm imagining a large Mercedes truck with Paul Krugman commanding a small squad of brownshirts, drunk on beer and singing patriotic songs about Keynes.

  • Dire Straits||

    "Money for Nothing"?

  • R||

    I don't think a Krystalnacht against Libertarians would be a very good idea. After all, as a group, they tend to be heavily armed...

  •  ||

    ...with sarcasm.

  • GSL||

    Given that he tried to get votes for an awful set of tax increases up till the 11th hour, and given that we'll likely never see state-level pension reform as a result of this budget, I'm not ready to give Brown the "reformer" award just yet. But he did a good thing in smacking card check down.

  • Skr||

    And that first ridiculous budget

  • GSL||

    well, the one he signed was only slightly less ridiculous.

  • Skr||

    Which is why I specified the first one, lol.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Kochtopussies and NIMBYs unite!

    And you thought Prohibitionists and Suffragettes was a strange combination.

  • Redland Jack||

    I'm never giving up the serial comma. I'll continue to fight for 'oxymoron', 'begging the question', 'literally', and (now) the serial comma.
    Hmmm. I may have missed the point of the article.

  • Joshua||

    I'm with you man! Oxford comma forever!

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Not only do I prefer the Oxford comma, but if my list includes sublists I use the Oxford semicolon.

    And I nest parenthesis when it seems like a good idea; further, I don't consider punctuation in a quotation to be punctuation for the enclosing sentence.

    And I know better than to start a sentence with a conjunction. I do know better, I just do it anyway.

  • GSL||

    Also, the ink on Brown's budget is barely dry, and we're already getting notice of the first set of legal challenges.

  • Paul||

    Who got some Scott Walker in your Jerry Brown? Clearly, Brown failed to stay bought.

    Governors nationwide are presiding over states which are flat fucking broke. They have two choices:

    Buck the status quo by making real budget reforms, or leave.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The rats had the right idea on the Titanic.

  • Jim||

    I always preferred to use the serial comma, and will continue to do so.

  • ||

    my view is all punctuation should be voluntary

  • Amakudari||

    Fun fact: That's not the serial comma. The serial comma comes before the coordinating conjunction connecting the last and next-to-last items in a list. A comma where you used it is only appropriate when combining two independent clauses, but the second clause is not an independent clause.

    Disclaimer: Internet grammar pedantry is guaranteed to contain at least one mistake.

  • ||

    Nobody believes in the free market when it means paying full price for things formerly subsidized. Because who likes paying tolls?

    We're all socialists whenever it benefits us.

  • ||

    I'm probably the last person in the world that sill uses the Oxford comma.

  • ||

    I absolutely use it. I'm actually quite anal about it.

  • kinnath||

    me too

  • The Millions||

    And we.

  • Tango Mike||

    I can't write without it. Only dullards omit it.

  • Joshua||

    Quick bragging, carrying on, and making a scene.

  • ||

    What is up with these long shot hipster rock band music videos???

    No you are not Hitchcock or Altman....you are filming a fucking music video for song that no one will ever remember.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Agreed. It also seems kind of vain when CG means it's almost never a single take but a bunch of sewn-together takes (an easier and smoother version of the reel-change wipes in Rope).

    This video may be going to a new take every time there's a rapid pan or a figure crosses in vertical full-frame from left to right. Or maybe it really is all one take. Either way, knowing that they can pull the trick takes away the suspense.

    The most interesting long take I've seen in recent years was probably the Dunkirk beach scene in Atonement, mainly because it openly acknowledged that it was at least half digital.

  • -||

    What is up with these long shot hipster rock band music videos???

    Sometimes, Joshua, a music video is just a music video.

    No you are not Hitchcock or Altman.

    I don't think they can hear you.

    Song that no one will ever remember.

    You sound bitter. Hug?

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    "Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?"

    Douche bag, cunt High School English teachers.

  • Philosoraptor||

    Yeah; everyone else knows to use it. It's not something you care about; it's just part of existence. Like breathing.

  • GSL||

    Have to acknowledge a nice online handle when I see one. Good work.

  • Amakudari||

  • Ice Nine||

    That thing could have used a few Oxford commas.

  • Amakudari||

    What's most obnoxious is when they're pedants about their own style rules, which don't conform with any known style guides, and which you have to unlearn once you get to college and write papers in APA/MLA/etc. style.

  • Joshua||

    Fuck all style guides, and fuck all english professors in their hairy asses.

  • ||

    After all, it's clearly impossible for the random processes of natural selection to have produced robust biological diversity

    Beware. By equating free markets with evolution you threaten to awake the shrike.

  • Trespassers W||

    "The end will not come quickly, like it says in Revelations 22:7. First will come the [shrike], then the sheep dip, and after that, the terrible night of the whore-hopper, which might last 1,000 years." -- HST

  • Cytotoxic||

    That Canadian housing bust should put to rest the talk of our regulations being better and shit. Who am I kidding?

  • Amakudari||

    No, that meme will fucking persist. We still can't get rid of the idea that Germany got through the crisis much better than the US, much less that it got through the crisis at all.

  • Darien||

    While we're talking about Slate and intangibles, let's all take a minute to appreciate the grit and hustle of the U.S. economy: http://www.slate.com/id/2298086/

  • johnl||

    The serial comma is sensible, it's the words or and and that are confusing. What would be better is "For breakfast, choose from the following (Eggs and Spam, Baked Beans and Spam, Spam and Spam).".

  • ||

    I second the notion that English should work more like a programming language.

  • ||

    I believe you would use a semicolon for lists with more complex items: "For breakfast, choose from the following: eggs and spam; baked beans and spam; or spam and spam." It doesn't seem commonly used though..

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    The one thing I know about Eats Shoots and Leaves is that it either does or does not argue that the semicolon should only be used when making a list of clauses in which some of the clauses contain commas: "The protagonists include Lorenzo, who is in search of a mentor; Eugene, a boisterous risk-taker; and Fassi, who plays hard and punches harder."

    That makes sense to me. I think the serial semicolon may have some utility that the serial comma.

    The semicolon as a separator of two complete sentences was huge in the eighties; I don't believe it's used much anymore.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    "...that the serial comma lacks."

  • SIV||

    It happens to the best of us Tim.

  • Bloody Viking||

    toast, cereal, bacon and eggs, and coffee

    could be better written as toast, cereal, bacon-and-eggs, and coffee

    using a serial semicolon actually makes me pause a little more when reading it:

    toast; cereal; bacon and eggs; and coffee

    either way the driver is the fact that the bacon and eggs are a combo item that can't be split; I was taught to use the hyphen in that case. But that causes the following problem:

    Egg-and-bacon, egg-sausage-and-bacon, egg-and-Spam...

    it's like there's some new kind of sausage made out of eggs.

    The comma usage one never sees in post WWII writing is "-,"

    Egg-and-bacon, egg-,sausage-and-bacon, egg-and-spam...

    perhaps that needs and Oxford comma after sausage.

  • Tony||

    It's amazing why anyone would be so afraid of the central-planning bogeyman. What are you, a bunch of pussies?

  • ||

    Only a Christ-fag would want anything but a perpetual Obama administration, telling us how to live for the rest of His glorious life.

  • ||

    There is a dissertation to be written on the collective psychology of "Tony" and his posts. The real Tony, as pointed out by SF yesterday, was long ago murdered by one of his tricks. But the Hit and Run "Tony" will live forever as a collective creation of the commentators here.

  • NotSure||

    True, only a coward would fear Maos or Stalins central planning, people with courage know there is nothing to fear.

  • ||

    Subsidized farmers versus high speed rail nitwits that really is Stalingrad. Commies killing Nazis. Nazis killing Commies. Is it possible for both sides to lose?

  • -||

    I thought the atheists vs. the Islamist fundamentalists was Stalingrad.
    What's next--Franken Berry vs. Count Chocula?

  • ||

    It is called an analogy. That means it is not exactly the thing and by its nature can apply to multiple things.

    I always forget to explain things to the slower members of the board. I really forget how slow some of the people, especially the lefties, are.

  • -||

    Please don't stop. I'm looking forward to future Stalingrad analogies.

  • ||

    And see now that you understand what an analogy is, you will get the posts. Isn't that great?

  • -||

    You don't get the point that overusing the Stalingrad analogy is tiresome and shows a lack of imagination. Not that your "readership" here is particularly discerning.

  • ||

    Big words for you. I am impressed.

  • -||

    Thanks, but I'm using my small words for your benefit.

  • ||

    Those dudes in Jericho should have planted a nuclear bomb in Sacramento

  • Joshua||

    Terrorist!

  • Matrix||

    High speed rails from LA to LV might prove to be profitable. But, of course, I think private businesses in Vegas should invest their own money into the venture.

  • ||

    It's intentions that matter. Only a fascist racist wouldn't know that.

  • Damian P.||

    Not sure how many other Newfoundlanders are reading this, but is that photo Daniel's Harbour?

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