Political Animal

DUELING ECONOMIC PLANS….I’ve been pondering

DUELING ECONOMIC PLANS….I’ve been pondering the two economic proposals on offer lately, and speaking from a nonpartisan point of view I have a question: Do we really even need a big economic plan right now?

On the Republican side, we get a big tax cut, but let’s face it: overall tax levels aren’t really very high right now, either historically or in comparison to other developed countries. Unless you simply believe that taxes should always be cut no matter what, it’s hard to see the point. What’s more, the effect of a dividend tax cut is supposed to be a boost to the stock market, but to my eye the stock market looks like it might still be overvalued, and artificially keeping it high doesn’t seem to make much sense. Better to just let it drop to its natural level.

On the Democratic side, we’ve got a bunch of proposals that are supposed to provide a short term stimulus to the economy. It’s true that job growth was poor last year, but even so unemployment is only at about 6% and the economy grew by around 3% in 2002. I don’t have a problem with, say, extending unemployment benefits, but otherwise this is hardly the kind of deep recession that cries out for a Keynesian stimulus.

I can’t help but wonder if the best option is really (c) none of the above.

ISOLATED….Asia Times explains just how

ISOLATED….Asia Times explains just how poor our intelligence on North Korea is:

A couple of years ago Western intelligence discovered in Rome that North Korean intelligence agents were busily buying kitchen utensils and microwave ovens. The Western agents became suspicious and investigated the matter. They found out that some parts of microwaves oven could be used to build triggers for atomic bombs. They thus thought that the North Koreans were about to build an atomic bomb and were purchasing the components of its trigger in the form of innocuous kitchenware. They were about to act and stop the traffic, when they came across another piece of information: The utensils were connected with some Italian chefs hired to go and cook for a period of time in Pyongyang at Kim Jong-il’s court. So the Western agents dropped the matter – apparently Kim was simply fond of Italian food. Perhaps he is fonder of pizza than of atomic bombs.

MAYBE I COULD PICK UP

MAYBE I COULD PICK UP A COUPLE OF THOSE SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS FOR HIM?….Wow, Paul Krugman got paid $50,000 for overseas speaking engagements? And he says he used to do this “a lot.” So figure, what? Ten gigs a year? Twenty? That’s pretty good money either way!

But now he doesn’t do it anymore because the New York Times won’t let him. His income from the Times is “very nice,” but it does involve a “substantial income cut” since he had to give up the speaking. I’ll bet.

You know, I think it might be fun to write a New York Times column, death threats and all, but would I give up a million dollars a year for it? We’re never likely to find out, but I have a feeling I might turn out to be not quite as good a little liberal as Paul Krugman….