Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

The REAL danger to the economy

Is the constant use of “engine” metaphors.

Every conversation about the economy invariably compares it to a mechanical device.

When the economy is going well, it’s “humming” or “chugging along.” When it’s not, it’s “sputtering” or “stalled.”

We “prime the pump” with stimulus spending during a recession and hope the economy will reach “escape velocity.” Tax cuts and more federal spending can “fuel growth” or “turbocharge” it. Money gets “pumped into” it.

Comparing the economy to an engine means that it’s made up of parts that interact in precise ways and that, if they break down, can easily be fixed by smart technicians. It suggests that pushing the right buttons and flipping the right switches, adding the right mix of fuel in the proper amounts will keep it running smoothly.

The metaphor ends up driving reality, and economic policy prescriptions. Yet these policy prescriptions almost never work as intended. Stimulus plans don’t stimulate. Fed rate hikes often cause the recessions they’re supposed to prevent. As Paul Krugman put it, “bad metaphors make for bad policy.”

IBD recommends a more appropriate and accurate metaphor for the economy, which in turn suggests the best approach to “managing” it: “At best, we can leave it alone.” Problem being, given the choice between taking their grubby mitts off of the economy to the increased prosperity and benefit of all and “managing” it right into perpetual disaster and ruin, guess which one statists will pick? I mean, it IS only the central tenet of the Progressivist religion, after all.

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"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

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