DEATH OF A FAIRY TALEBY PAUL KRUGMAN NEW YORK TIMES[S]erious analysts now argue that fiscal austerity in a depressed economy is probably self-defeating: by shrinking the economy and hurting long-term revenue, austerity probably makes the debt outlook worse rather than better. But while the confidence fairy appears to be well and truly buried, deficit scare stories remain popular. Indeed, defenders of British policies dismiss any call for a rethinking of these policies, despite their evident failure to deliver, on the grounds that any relaxation of austerity would cause borrowing costs to soar. So we’re now living in a world of zombie economic policies — policies that should have been killed by the evidence that all of their premises are wrong, but which keep shambling along nonetheless.IS OUR ADULTS LEARNING?BY DAVID BROOKS NEW YORK TIMESThe economists who supported the stimulus now argue the economy would have been worse off without it. Those who opposed it argue that the results have been meager. The problem is that no model can capture enough of the world’s complexity to yield definitive conclusions or make nonobvious predictions. A lot depends on what assumptions you build into them. What you really need to achieve sustained learning, Manzi argues, is controlled experiments. The first step to wisdom is admitting how little we know and constructing a trial-and-error process on the basis of our own ignorance. Inject controlled experiments throughout government.
WHILE SYRIA BURNSBY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTIf Obama wants to stay out of Syria, fine. Make the case ... . In my view, the evidence argues against that, but at least a coherent case for hands-off could be made. That would be an honest, straightforward policy. Instead, the president, basking in the sanctity of the Holocaust Museum, proclaims his solemn allegiance to a doctrine of responsibility — even as he stands by and watches Syria burn. If we are not prepared to intervene, even indirectly... be candid. ... Don’t pretend the U.N. is doing anything. Don’t pretend the U.S. is doing anything. And don’t embarrass the nation with an Atrocities Prevention Board. The tragedies of Rwanda, Darfur and now Syria did not result from lack of information or lack of interagency coordination, but from lack of will.WHAT IMMIGRATION CRISIS?BY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTIf Republicans don’t find a way to win more Latino support, Obama will be hard to beat. In the long term, if Latinos become a more or less permanent Democratic constituency like African Americans have, the GOP will inexorably go the way of the Whigs. So that is what this year’s immigration “debate” will be about: how to reap political gain and avoid political loss. What should our elected officials be talking about? We don’t need to build a giant wall along the Rio Grande; Obama has already “hardened” the border. We need a Reagan-style amnesty that would allow the great majority of undocumented immigrants to stay, along with reforms that give Mexicans and others a realistic hope of being able to come here someday.A BUSH LEAGUE PRESIDENTBY PEGGY NOONANWALL STREET JOURNALI listen to him closely and find myself daydreaming: This is the best-tailored president since JFK. His suits, shirts and ties are beautifully cut from fine material. This is an elegant man. I should be thinking about what a powerful case he's making for his leadership. I'm not because he's not. It is still so surprising that a person who seems bored by politicking has risen to the highest political office in the land. Politics is a fleshly profession, it's all hugging, kissing, arm twisting, shaking hands. It involves contact. ... They touch each other more than actors! Bill Clinton was fleshly, and LBJ. How odd to have a Democratic president who doesn't seem to like humans all that much.THE PRESIDENT HAS A LISTBY KIMBERLEY STRASSELWALL STREET JOURNALIn [a website post this past week], the Obama campaign named and shamed eight private citizens who had donated to his opponent. Describing the givers as all having "less-than-reputable records," the post went on to make the extraordinary accusations that "quite a few" have also been "on the wrong side of the law" and profiting at "the expense of so many Americans."... The Obama campaign has justified any action on the grounds that it has a right to "hold the eventual Republican nominee accountable," but this is a dodge. Politics is rough, but a president has obligations that transcend those of a candidate. If Mr. Obama isn't going to act like a president, he bolsters the argument that he doesn't deserve to be one.FRESHMAN CLASS PRESIDENTEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALThe Pelosi Congress of 2007 knocked the rate down to 3.4%. Democrats scheduled a doubling of the rate to 6.8% this July 1. Under fuzzy Congressional budget math, Mr. Obama's one-year rate freeze will cost $6 billion, which he intends to cover by raising taxes. The bigger trouble is the expansion of another government credit program. A fixed rate of 3.4% is barely above the 3.1% that the Treasury is now paying on the 30-year bond, and not far above the 1.9% on the 10-year. If some Federal Reserve governors get their way and inflate the government out of its debts, triggering a sharp rise in interest rates, taxpayers could be losing even before the defaults roll in. To sum up, students now heading into a terrible job market will gain nothing from the latest Obama entitlement expansion. But all Americans can go to school on this textbook example of political recklessness and fraud.