Monday, October 28, 2013

News in Review: A Look at Sunday's New York Times

I'd planned to take a couple of weeks off from working out heavy as part of my offseason plan.  But then I got sick, and since then it's been super-busy.  So while I'd planned for today's post to be about getting back into the swing of being a triathlete, truth is that I'm not back; I am, in fact, hoping to start coming back this week.

In the meantime, it's been nice having some time off.  That said, I still something for today's post, so with that in mind, here's a look at the news out of yesterday's New York Times.

In Fed and Out, Many Now Think Inflation Helps

Bottom line here is that some folks in the Fed seem to think that the economy is stuck permanently in low-gear and that the only way to bring it out is to juice the money supply big-time, up to the point where we have as much as 6% inflation.  Which, let me tell, you is crazy as it can be.

First off, you can't just print money without consequences.  And when you do print money, you're not creating wealth--no matter how much people may wish differently.  That's just not the way reality works.  If we could create resources just by flipping a switch, trust me, that would have happened long ago.

Unfortunately, the Fed has already been printing money for so long that I think a lot of these so-called expert economists have long since lost sight of the reality that it's distorting the economy.  Which is to say that they think that they're creating wealth because capital asset prices are increasing--i.e. the stock market is going up and housing prices are rebounding--but in reality, what happened before was inflation in housing prices, and what's happening now is re-inflation of housing prices.  Stocks prices, meanwhile, are moving according to simple supply-and-demand.  With an increased supply of money, prices have moved up over a fixed range of value in assets.

And if we print even more money, we're going to make the problem worse.

Federal Prosecutors, in a Policy Shift, Cite Warrantless Wiretaps as Evidence
The headline more-or-less says it all.  The Feds are finally bringing a case against a terrorist suspect using evidence that they collected via warrantless wiretap.  Which means that the defense is going to challenge the admissability of the evidence, and that in turn means that we are finally going to get a court ruling on the practice of warrantless wiretapping in general.  Such a ruling is long since overdue.

As has been written elsewhere, the Feds have used the NSA and information technology assets to build the infrastructure for an extremely repressive police state.  They have, however, not really used it much.  It's just sitting there on the shelf, quietly scanning every iota of our electronic lives for potential signs of terrorism.  There is danger, however, in the way that "terrorism" is defined, and it therefore behooves all of us to have an active check on Executive Power by the Judicial Branch.

Maybe you've heard that before.

Addicted to the Apocalypse
Krugman's a counter-revolutionary this week.  He says that when everybody screams that the Sky is Falling, it's no longer cool anymore.

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