Death Match: Cicero v Obama

obama.jpg vs cicero.jpg

Old things aren’t always applicable to current things…but you may find that, most of the time and in some way, they are.
For example, yesterday in church, the homily by the sub-deacon was not his own: rather, it was one written 1500 years ago by Gregory the Great. Although my first instinct was to think, “Oh no…I’m not going to be able to follow all the medieval language and references in this thing!” the homily he proceeded to give was incredibly clear and informative on the Gospel reading.
Admittedly, theology is more static than politics. However, when I was reading “On the Good Life,” by Roman orator Marcus Cicero, I was astounded by the applicability and current relevance of many of the words he wrote over 2,000 years ago to modern America’s actions regarding property ownership.
Property ownership is a foundational principle of America. John Adams called property “as surely a right as liberty.” The recently passed stimulus bill, I believe, throws the concept of this right out of balance–to own property means being able to afford property. For example, we have the right to bear arms…does that mean the government should buy us all handguns? And what if it bought certain people guns, but not others? Moreover, what if it taxed you more to pay for that other person’s new-found property?
Cicero faced a similar scenario in Ancient Rome of politicians destroying the equilibrium, and therefore, the justice, of property ownership. Here are a few things he had to say about it:

“When politicians, enthusiastic to pose as the people’s friends, bring forward bills providing for the distribution of property, they intend that the existing owners shall be driven from their homes. Or they propose to excuse borrowers from paying back their debts.
“Men with those views undermine the very foundations on which our commonwealth depends. In the first place, they are shattering the harmony between one element in the State and another, a relationship which cannot possibly survive if debtors are excused from paying their creditor back the sums of money he is entitled to. Furthermore, all politicians who harbour such intentions are aiming a fatal blow at the whole principle of justice; for once rights of property are infringed, this principle is totally undermined.”

But how do we keep this from happening when families are losing their homes and their jobs?
It’s a shame we didn’t listen to Cicero 30 years ago:

“The real answer to the problem is that we must make absolutely certain that private debts do not ever reach proportions which will constitute a national peril. There are various ways of ensuring this. But just to take the money away from the rich creditors and give the debtors something that does not belong to them is no solution at all. For the firmest possible guarantee of a country’s security is sound credit…
So the men in charge of our national interests will do well to steer clear of the kind of liberality which involves robbing one man to give to another.”

It is important to note that Cicero was a wholehearted advocate of generosity; moreover, generosity to the genuinely poor, not those to whom the giver will gain popularity and status by donating. However, he also believed the state is not a charity, and especially so if it is “distributing property” forcibly.
I really am hoping that this “stimulus bill” fixes things. My skepticism is enormous, but since there’s nothing I can do about it, I am pulling for its success. Nonetheless, I think my fears regarding the implications this bill may have on our foundational American principles are well founded.
If only Cicero could speak in Senate…

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Robin Dembroff

Robin Dembroff is a student at the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, pursuing degrees in Philosophy and English Literature. Her writing has been recognized by the Visalia Times Delta, Ayn Rand Institute, Michael L. Roston Creative Writing Contest, Torn Curtain – The Zine, Biola English Guild’s St. John the Apostle Paper Conference, and the Biola History/Gov’t/Social Science Department’s J.O. Henry Award.

  • David N.

    Sadly, even when he WAS able to speak in the Senate, those in power didn’t listen to him. Something tells me nothing would change today.
    Great post!

  • Boonton

    Property ownership is a foundational principle of America. John Adams called property “as surely a right as liberty.” The recently passed stimulus bill, I believe, throws the concept of this right out of balance
    You know if you’re going to start tossing Cicero around you should have something to say that is actually coherent.

  • JillD

    The only problem is that if the stimulus bill actually succeeds, it will prove the wisdom of stealing from one group and redistributing wealth to another. Eventually, the former group will say, “To heck with it!” and join the latter. Most people work for a reason and when the reason is stolen from them and from their children, they might as well join the irresponsible and wait for the government to print up some money and hand it to them.

  • G Man

    If only Cicero could speak in Senate…

    Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd, and Barney Frank would say, “This man represents the thinking of the past. Do we really need to go back to these antiquated notions of property rights and credit – the very notions that got us where we are today? American spoke for change. America voted for change. Goodbye Cicero, hello Obama”.

  • Boonton

    So who exactly is the victim of theft here? In the 8 years you guys were given a chance you blew through 3 Trillion dollars without even an acknowledging that it merited a moments notice. Now, all in the sudden, when we borrow in the face of an emergancy you suddenly discover your inner Ayn Rand?

  • joepoe

    I agree with boonton, when the last administration was taking taxpayer money to socialize the losses of a bunch of irresponsible corporations did you blog about how wrong that was?

  • Boonton

    Can’t say anything about it joepoe, this is perhaps the most pro-life blog imaginable. Every commentor and author on it was created fresh from a fertilized egg not two days before Obama was inaugerated President. They didn’t exist before then and have absolutely no responsibility for anything that happened before.

  • John

    A good political analogy. I’ve found our current situation quite analogous to the biblical time of Samuel.
    Here’s my thoughts:

  • G Man

    Good ol’ Boonton writes: “In the 8 years you guys were given a chance…”
    Who exactly are you guys? If you are equating Pres. George W. Bush with conservatives, you are sorely mistaken. Bush, although a fighter for freedom, was very liberal in his spending. Part of Bush’s problem initially was his trying to be friends with the Dems.
    As bad as Pres. Bush was in spending, Pres. Obama will most likely far outspend him in 12 months versus Bush’s 8 years – when all this is through.
    Even honest liberals would have to agree that there are FAR less expensive ways to stimulate the economy than the recently-passed Christmas list.

  • Boonton

    John, I skimmed your post but you’ve failed to make your argument. An analogy must be like something other than itself. You indicated that you know quite a bit of the Biblical story of Samuel and Saul but I have no idea how you connect that to our presenta day situation….unless you want us to believe that George Bush is Samuel and Obama is Saul but quite frankly if that’s where you’re going I think you’re going to have to work a bit harder to sell that one.

  • JillD

    John, your blog is a perfect analogy in many ways! Samuel’s warnings about what would happen to the people when they insisted on putting their trust in a king – look at what’s happening to our country since deciding to put all our hope, trust, faith, love, and slobbering fawning on Obama. He’s mortgaged our descendants for generations in the first few weeks. Look at his pride and the monuments he’s made to himself, from the Greek columns to his private jet’s headrest which said President long before he became President. Even his pseudo-presidential seal was alarming. And Saul’s beauty and Obama’s beauty… What a pretty smile won’t get you these days. Sheesh! And now the people love Obama as if HE is the Messiah and not Our Lord. HE will save us, not God. HE is worthy of our faith. Who’s “the LORD our God” anyway??
    Good analogy!

  • Boonton

    “Who exactly are you guys? ”
    Who exactly indeed. Isn’t it amazing that Bush was President for 8 years and NO ONE supported him except maybe liberal democrats. Isn’t it amazing when Bush couldn’t run anymore NO ONE argued that any changes were needed besides maybe minor tweaks in some policies? Isn’t it amazing that the one guy who actually tried to make a serious run against Bush’s economic policies from the right, Ron Paul, (and was even pro-life at the same time) could barely get more than a fringe showing in the primaries?
    Yep the right has no responsibility at all. They were all born on Jan 20, 2009.
    “Even honest liberals would have to agree that there are FAR less expensive ways to stimulate the economy than the recently-passed Christmas list.”
    Well actually there isn’t. It’s going to cost a few trillion by the time the dust settles. To date the Republicans have offered no coherent ideas at all. On the one hand, they have acted as born-again classical economists demanding smaller deficits with less spending. On the other hand they propose ideas like having the Treasury borrow hundreds of billions and refinance the everyone’s mortgage at 4%.
    But the cost of the stimulus bill is trivial in the big scheme of things. What we are seeing here is a massive under-utilization of our capacity. What does that mean? It means that if everyone was working, if all the houses had people in them rather than sitting empty in foreclosure auctions, if the factories were funning at full steam & so on all of that would amount to an amount that is called ‘potential GDP’….the GDP our economy can produce where inflation neither increases or decreases. What that means is that the difference between that and what we have today is massive and the true cost of the recession is going to be the sum of that output gap from 2008, 2009 and each year until we close it. That is going to be massive.

  • Boonton

    “look at what’s happening to our country since deciding to put all our hope, trust, faith, love, and slobbering fawning on Obama. He’s mortgaged our descendants for generations in the first few weeks. ”
    Ohhh yea, the world started last month. Amazing, absolutely amazing. You guys live in a totally imaginary world, don’t you?

  • John

    First, I didn’t mean to hijack the comments, just to offer additional perspective on the Obama vs. Cicero. I enjoy this site and hopefully soon I’ll figure out how to add it to my blogroll (new to blogging).
    Boonton, I can see how someone might have difficulty drawing the parallel, particularly if just skimming. Re-read I Samuel 8:11-18, I’ve included a portion below.
    “He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
    I hope you can see the comparison between what is going on there and what’s happening and will happen with these stimulus plans. It’s our money, our resources, our best, being taken from us right now. And there’s not a thing we can do about it.
    No G.W. Bush isn’t Samuel. Samuel wasn’t king, he moreso represented an establishment. Maybe we would call it democracy?
    Thanks for the compliment Jill. I thank you and Boonton both for reading, or skimming ;)

  • Boonton

    “I hope you can see the comparison between what is going on there and what’s happening and will happen with these stimulus plans. It’s our money, our resources, our best, being taken from us right now. And there’s not a thing we can do about it.”
    Keeping things in perspective. Obama’s plan is about $787B, of which maybe 375b is tax cuts (see graphic at For this ‘the best’ is going to be taken from us. Yet out of the $3T Bush blew on war and tax cuts during his 8 years we aren’t going to ever have to pay any taxes? (And I said war and tax cuts, I didn’t mention TARP which is about equal to the Obama fiscal stimulus)

  • Boonton

    sorry, that’s about $284B in tax cuts, I added up the Senate and House numbers rather than adding the reconciliation version.

  • Boonton

    I’ll say it again what is being taken from us is our current capacity to earn income. We are not in a situation where our fields are producing lots of grain. We are in a situation where our fields are not being harvested because the economy is not functioning….if you want to use more Biblical language. In Saul’s time, your fields either produced grain or they didn’t. You didn’t leave the grain on the ground because the ‘credit market is frozen’. Right now is when we need our economy to produce income *because* we have heavy debts.
    What we do have in common with Saul’s time is that time is still important. A year lost is a cost that cannot be recovered. 10% unemployed at an average income of say $45K a year is billions of dollars that would not only go against real debts of ours but also for their own well beign and ours too.

  • John

    I hope you are right. I pray our current leaders are making the right moves, because if not, we’ll all be living the time of Samuel trying to plant/harvest fields.
    BTW, the blog post was just a question, to generate thought, not division. We’re divided enough as a nation.

  • Sermon Outlines

    Interesting post, and I must say even more interesting comments :P I have to agree with you..
    “Property ownership is a foundational principle of America. John Adams called property “as surely a right as liberty.” The recently passed stimulus bill, I believe, throws the concept of this right out of balance–”
    So true…..

  • Boonton

    Given that the stimulus bill consists of a combination of tax cuts and spending on various programs that already existed (such as Medicare) could somone please explain what exactly makes this so revolutionary in regards to property ownership?

  • Michael Duenes

    One guy said it above, but I’ll say it here. I think Bush has been a fiscal disaster for our country. In his first term there wasn’t a spending bill he didn’t like. And, no, I wasn’t born in January. I think there’s been spending problems for decades in this country, and Bush didn’t help one bit.

  • miliukov

    Actually, what is sad in a funny sort-of-way is that if efforts by a number of State actors (and to some extent their respective central banks) do not arrest the deflationary spiral we’re now in, we’re probably gonna get the real-deal, old-school socialism, not a grab-bag of tax cuts and some pork spending.
    Fed policy rates can’t go any lower, and US consumers and businesses are cutting consumption and trying to shrink their balance sheets to keep up with falling asset prices. That means there is only one lever remaining: government spending. As distasteful as that is, it may be the best hope to halt the negative feedback loop that comes with a liquidity trap.
    The studious reader will look to Japan in the 1990s when its credit bubble burst***: they spent well more than 100% of GDP over 10 years or so. The result is that they avoided a localized depression. What they got, and this was a comparatively good outcome, was merely 10 years of stagnation — and they had the benefit of an export-oriented economy and strong growth in the United States and elsewhere to pull them out (neither of which are in play for the US today). Increasingly, that’s the US base case: a lost and flat decade. Downside case is the 1930s.
    And simply “cutting back” or “getting back to basics” or whining about “socialistic income redistribution” won’t fix it because the US, and much of Europe now, is in a feedback loop. The faster everyone tries to pay down debt, cut consumption, cut costs, cut taxes, etc., the faster the pie will shrink. Economy needs a huge external shock to establish a new, lower but firm, equilibrium. Also need to sort out the banks, but almost nothing short of nationalization — “receivership” might be a more palatable word — is likely to kill the zombie banks.
    If it doesn’t work, if we can’t set that equilibrium and kill off the zombie banks, the economic carnage over, let’s say, 10 years will probably destroy the economic order that’s been largely preeminent since WWII: free trade, free flow of capital, generally open exchange rate policies (or moves towards them), private ownership of property, shareholders’ rights and corporate governance. The greatest generator of wealth, prosperity, development, and probably human good in all of history will have been wrecked. And we did it; each one; all of us. They’ll make a new one of course, but it won’t be like the old one.
    And you’ll definitely wanna to brush up on your Mandarin.
    [***remember, it’s a balance sheet recession, not a business cycle one; means that the risk is not inflation, but deflation, at least for now.]

  • Boonton

    The tricky part about a stimulus bill is that to work you have to spend a lot of money very quickly. While it isn’t necessary to spend money in a sensible way, it is nice if you do have something ten, twenty years later to show for it (Keynes’s famous quote was that the gov’t could go ahead and bury currency in caves & let businesses dig it up…it would be nicer if gov’t would build housing instead but that would be better than nothing).
    That being the point, I think the stimulus bill could have been a lot worse. Yes it was a thousand pages that no one has read. First off, no one reads legislation anymore than any blogger reads or writes the entire HTML coding of their website. Second, simple is not always better. TARP took only 3 pages of legislation to spend nearly the same amount. Those pages basically said the Treasury Secretary could do anything he thought might work with 3/4 of a trillion dollars.
    I think the ‘Christmas list’ nature of the stimulus bill is less of a defect and more of a feature. We have some stuff that we may be able to look at ten years from now and say “this is still paying off”…things like the SMART Grid, some funds for doing comparative medical research not to find what works but of the stuff that works what works best, electronic medical records and some of the infrastructure projects. We have some spending going into programs that already exist like picking up some of the states’ medicaid costs thereby easing some of the state budget criseses that are going on. We have the $8K tax credit to first time home buyers which might help the housing market a bit and a allowing new car buyers to deduct state sales taxes. And then we have the payroll tax cut that lowers the money they deduct from your paycheck slightly (like $13 per person per week). Ditto for the extended food stamps & unemployment. While that isn’t going to put anyone on easy street it probably will spur a bit of consumption & it’s a little bit of help spread out to a real lot of people as opposed to a big dose of help concentrated in one single area (like when you build a bridge or tunnel). All in all you get a lot of eggs in a lot of different baskets which makes for a very complicated bill with lots of pages but more shots that good will be done and if some of the things turn out to be counter productive then their damage will be limited to a fraction of the whole bill.
    This is why the whole property line is bugging me so much. I could see a sensible conservative argument that some proposals do have problematic implications for private property. For example, letting mortgages be rewritten by bankruptcy courts does have some valid arguments against it. On balance I take a pratical approach; if the bank is going to loose $100K in foreclosure everyone’s better off lopping $50K off the mortgage if it keeps things in balance. But that’s a different topic that has nothing to do with the stimulus bill. OK if you want to play Ayn Rand and argue that we shouldn’t have Medicaid, shouldn’t have unemployment or food stamps. Well go ahead but in 8 years I don’t recall a single Republican bill proposing to abolish those things nor am I aware of a single Republican governor proposing to abolish the state’s share of those programs.
    So what exactly is the property thing about? Is it about the borrowing? Well if we hadn’t borrowed $3T under Bush it would be a lot less to pay off in future taxes. Is it about increasing certain spending? What spending exactly? Whose property is being attacked by taking out less in payroll taxes or by new car buyers deducting sales taxes on their income tax? At some point you have to move beyond wild accusations and state exactly where you’re coming from. If you want to be the libertarian type then go ahead but the Republican Party has nothing to do with that stance besides, maybe, some rhetoric.

  • Kristian

    This is one of my favorite quotes from the same book:
    “Bounty is a bottomless pit. For how can it be anything else, when those who have got accustomed to being subsidized are bound to want more, and persons who have never been at the receiving end want to go there?”

  • Ron Reagan

    I read the post and a number of comments — many comments make the argument that we would be living in the past if we go back to capitalism — so out with the old and in with the new — socialism doesn’t sound so good — but darling, Obama is not a socialist — I beg your pardon, since when?
    Bottom line, I wonder how many people think Obama is going to make a difference to those who actually OWN Real Estate (better yet who own real estate with high-equity or no mortgage)? I wouldn’t think it is not many of you. Same old tired argument, please give me something I didn’t earn — class envy — racism — is all masked with “he got it, how come I can’t have it?” BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T WORK FOR IT!
    If you want to live in a Nation that has NO property rights then fine, you don’t need to work anyway! Obama has a new program of austerity — he will give FREE homes with mortgages you don’t have to pay for — let the poor taxpayer pay for it — that is the reason I am living in America as I love to give my hard work to someone that didn’t earn it.
    Good luck — most people that really have something to lose (like their property and freedom) will fight you tooth and nail once they finally figure out that Obama’s form of SOCIALISM doesn’t work — it never has — it never will! That’s the good news!

  • Dallas Hayseed

    I’ll keep my money, my guns and my liberty. You keep the change.

  • Barney’s Frank

    Everybody had a job in the old Soviet Union.

  • Dan

    Booton, please give us your social security number and home address. We need it to claim you as our dependent. After all, we do pay your mortgage, medical expenses, food, education…no need to thank us.

  • JillD

    Dallas, that’s classic! Thanks for the morning laugh!!
    I won’t even ruin it by trying to work “hope” into the equation…

  • John M.

    Sure, ignore Cicero. That’s what the Romans did. And what did they get? Triumvirate 1, civil war, triumvirate 2, civil war, Emperor. End of story.

  • ZZ

    Boonton’s primary argument seems to be that, since irresponsible government spending started under the last administration, ethat morality has somehow changed and mad irresponsible debt levels an OK thing that we should just live with. Interesting.

  • miliukov

    I’m curious: what do Ron, Dan, ZZ, Dallas, Barney, JillD, et. al., proposed to do? Or do they propose nothing? — which is certainly one option I suppose, but then I wonder if they understand the risks.
    Because the risk is deflation and an economy that continues to shrink in on itself because it’s in the midst of the sharpest balance sheet recession in decades, not a typical business cycle recession. That’s a fancy way of saying that we have too much debt at every level, and have had for many years: federal, corporate, personal. And the effect of that debt — at all levels — was to drive up asset prices artificially high; in that sense, one way to look at it is that we already had the first part of the stimulus, and that we really were never as rich as we thought. When the asset prices inevitably came back down (even Madoff’s scheme had to end eventually), they didn’t cover the debt they were pledged or mortgaged against because, as anyone in a first semester accounting class can tell you:
    Assets = Liabilities + Equity.
    And all the policy makers and consumers and voters and tax payers and bankers and [insert your name here most likely] COULD HAVE and SHOULD HAVE made very different decisions to avoid this outcome, but they didn’t and we didn’t — so here we are. And the great paradox now is that the prescription to get out of a deflationary spiral is not the same as the prescription we COULD HAVE and SHOULD HAVE taken when we had the chance. So everyone’s new-found fiscal prudence now actually accelerates the cycle to the bottom, rather than arrests it, as consumers swing from net debtors to net savers on an unprecedented scale: like a ~5 percent-of-GDP swing in a couple of quarters, which would imply that the government action — yes you may have heard it called the “stimulus” — needs to be maybe twice its current size for maybe 3-5 years, depending on how long the consumer stays that gloomy.
    Not a lot of fun; but there it is. Ain’t it just so funny that the thing we think we’ve been railing against is the very thing we end up ushering in unwittingly…? There’s a reason that Saint Paul wrote:
    9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
    I Timothy 6:9-10

    What do you think we should do, ZZ? JillD? Ron Reagan? Really, I’m curious. What?
    [P.S.: the first person who calls me a socialist is automatically disqualified. When they re-write the tax code, rest easy in the knowledge that I’ll come out manifestly worse than how I went in. And no, I am not happy about that, but hey that’s life in the top tax bracket, ain’t it old boy.]

  • JillD

    I don’t admit to having your knowledge on the science of economics, but my sense tells me that this country needs to fall flat on its stupid face and build itself back up. People who are deeply in debt due to their own shortsightedness, avarice, and greed need to move in with relatives if they lose their homes. People who can’t afford to keep their kids need to place them with relatives until they can. Start growing your own food and get a water filter. Sure, it will stink and be ugly, but I know that experience is the best teacher and life needs to stink for a time, maybe a long time in order to learn the lesson: excess debt in one’s life is stupid! And that stupidity has hurt all of us.
    Meanwhile, stock up on canned goods and toilet paper because these trillions of dollars haven’t done a darn thing – and the trillions to come won’t either.

  • Boonton

    Sure, ignore Cicero.
    Are we ignoring Cicero? Or are we ignoring pretentious name droppers we don’t really have any useful ideas of their own?
    Booton, please give us your social security number and home address. We need it to claim you as our dependent….
    You’ll be happy to know that I provide most of these things for myself and even manage to provide them for a few other people as well in limited degrees. I’d appreciate it if you refrained from advocating economic policies that would increase the risk that I will not be able to continue to do so in the near future.
    Boonton’s primary argument seems to be that, since irresponsible government spending started under the last administration, ethat morality has somehow changed and mad irresponsible debt levels an OK thing that we should just live with.
    Actually my observation is a bit more mundane but undeniable. If we hadn’t wasted $3T under Bush we’d have an extra $3T now to deal with the crises. I do not subscribe to the view, however, that ‘spending got us into this mess’. Spending is a necessary and natural part of the economy.
    I’m curious: what do Ron, Dan, ZZ, Dallas, Barney, JillD, et. al., proposed to do?
    I’m curious about that too. They criticize but offer very little in response except digging up old lines from the Ayn Rand free market playbook. I feel that their objections, when they have been coherent, have been fairly addressed. They, on the other hand, do not address the questions put to them, do not address the objections to their proposals (if and when they have any). All in all they began talking a big game, tossing out Cicero and all but on the court they seem to be more talk than substance.

  • Donald

    I have always found Cicero to be applicable even today.

  • Freelancelot

    Who is this Boone’s Farm idiot?
    He reminds me of all the stupid regressive Liberals I’ve ever had the displeasure of stumbling over.
    Like all Liberals, he can’t cite one single fact. But that’s because, like all Liberals, he believes he is entitled to his own facts.
    On top of it all he accuses others, in so many words, of not learning from history, while he accuses Bush of “wasting $3 trillion” in the same breath. Yet he supports Emperor Dumbo and his Ministers’ clear and present plans to waste that much money and more. (Oh, while redefining a recession as a “crisis”.) So, if we are supposed to learn from history, and it was awful for Bush to waste $3 trillion, why is it okay for Emperor Dumbo to waste that and more? (Why, it must be because he believes that Emperor Dumbo is giving him something for nothing–since he lied to all of the weak, belly-crawling cowards who voted for him and said he would do that impossible thing.)
    You need a lifetime of therapy, Boone’s Farm. Go get it somewhere else.

  • Caffeinated Thoughts

    Twenty Items of Interest (v.47)

    1. How TARP works in pictures, or otherwise now known as the Congressional Relief Action Program (C.R.A.P.).  Another visual can be found here.
    2.  Hey have you seen the Rick Santelli rant yet?  Here is the video:
    You can read the tran…

  • Boonton

    In general when the economy is suffering from a spending gap the gov’t needs to make up the difference. When the economy is at full employment, though, additional spending tends to be wasteful and over a long period of time will drag down an economies overall potential.

  • miliukov

    I posted a long-ish note early yesterday, but see it has not been cleared for the comment thread. I diligently vetted it for swear words, gratuitous sexual innuendo, brazen ad hominem attacks, off-topic distractions and other sundry infelicities, so I don’t know what would hold it back. I’m sure it’s not the content. Perhaps the moderator can provide some clarity.
    Anyway, I don’t plan to try to re-post it. But I will add Freelancelot (may I call you “Sir”?) to the mix along with ZZ and Ron and Dallas and others: what would you do? Childish attacks on Boonton do not make a policy.

  • Dann Siems

    Cicero was an outspoken agnostic (if not a flat-out atheist). Speaking in the US Senate? In this religiously dogmatic nation he couldn’t get elected to be a small town mayor.