Thursday, January 30, 2014

Miscellaneous Perot: Faster than "too slow" must be too fast

Here's the whole paragraph, including the three sentences we looked at yesterday, from Ross Perot's 1992 book United We Stand:

President Reagan had a reason for the deficit spending that occurred in his Administration. He wanted to bankrupt the Soviet Union, and he did it by accelerating the arms race. In the last several years, our debt has grown for no reason. Government spending has risen to a record 25 percent of our gross national product, and it hasn't bought us much.

Just the last sentence this time. Just the first part of it. (I don't care about Perot's opinion whether all that spending "bought us much".) Here's the focal point:

Government spending has risen to a record 25 percent of our gross national product

Government spending is growing faster than our economy, he says. Got it?

Next, look at a sentence where Perot identifies the problem. From the Introduction:
Our economic growth has been sluggish for nearly two decades.

And another, from Chapter One:
Before the early 1970s, our standard of living doubled every generation and a half. Now it will take twelve generations for our standard of living to double!

The problem Perot identifies is slow economic growth. The economy is growing too slowly. Back in the early 1990s, when we still used "gross national product" instead of GDP, even then the economy was growing too slowly. Even way back then.

I quoted Perot's opening the other day:
We add about $1 billion in new debt every 24 hours.
Does anyone think the present recession just fell out of the sky?

Perot sees excessive Federal spending as the cause of slow economic growth. He says fast-growing Federal spending is the reason the economy grows so slowly.

His only evidence is that Federal spending grows faster than our slow-growing economy. But this is not evidence that Federal spending is growing too fast. It is evidence only that Federal spending growth is not also too slow.

Federal spending growth may be faster than "too slow", but that does not mean it is too fast. It doesn't mean anything, really. And yet Congressional debate since the time of Clinton has centered on the growth of Federal spending: vindictive, but otherwise empty argument: tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.


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