The Collective
Friday, February 20, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Megan McArdle rants (her word, although it is a rather cogent rant) over what is passing for debate concerning the stimulus package:

most of the public debate about these questions is not much tied to empirics. They are being debated as emotionally as if the topic were the relative virtues of the debaters’ spouses.

Once again, I am driven to quote the immortal Charles Murtaugh: the universe is not here to please you. Fiscal stimulus will make the economy grow faster, or it will not make the economy grow faster, without regard to whether taxation is theft or universal healthcare is an immediate moral imperative. I doubt I’m the only one who is wearied [No, you're not] by the way so many of the participants in the debate seem to already know the answer they want, and are merely looking for a set of questions that will get them there most expeditiously. Was there ever a time when people didn’t think that tricky economic conundrums could, or should, be used to “prove” that their personal values about the level of taxation and spending are a scientific fact? Probably not. Still, given how important this question is, I wish more people would treat this as a problem to be solved, a question to be answered, rather than a battle to be won.

I agree with the entire quote, and with the sentiment and theme of the entire post (only excerpted above), which points out that there is much we do not know about how these things work, and that it would be nice to discuss them more as a matter of empirical thinking rather than as articles of political faith.

Moreover, the last sentence above captures what I was trying to get at the other day in terms of my general criticism of the Republican approach to this problem to date.

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