Newt Gingrich’s Numeracy Problem

And Trump’s and the Dems’ arithmetic problem.

$2,000 * 200 million does not = $2,000.

$2,000 – $600 does not equal $2,000.

Newt Gingrich tweets:

If Senate Republicans fail to bring up the $2000 payment as a clean vote they run a real risk of losing the two seats in Georgia. This is an 80% issue. People get it. Billions for the banks, billions for big companies, but we can’t find $2000 for everyday Americans.

If the proposal before the Senate really were to give $2,000 to everyday Americans, no one would be raising an objection because $2,000 divided by, say, 200 million everyday eligible Americans is way, way below 1 penny each.

Everyone understands that it’s $2,000 per “everyday American.” With about 200 million Americans qualifying, that’s $400 billion.

So if we were to rewrite Newt’s tweet honestly and accurately, it would read something like:

If Senate Republicans fail to bring up the $2,000 payment as a clean vote they run a real risk of losing the two seats in Georgia. This is an 80% issue. People get it. Billions for the banks, billions for big companies, but we can’t find $400 billion for everyday Americans.

Sounds a little different, doesn’t it?

And remember how Trump objected that $600 was way too low an amount to have the government give eligible people and $2,000 was the right amount? Well, they got the $600. So if Trump really believed what he said, and if the Democrats believed what they said they believed, he and they should have pushed for an extra $1,400, not an extra $2,000.

Newt’s tweet also shows the difference between those of us who want to have gridlock and divided government in order to restrain government and people who want divided government simply because they want the Republicans to be the majority party in the Senate.

Many of us want gridlock because we fear what a Democratic House of Representatives, a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic president will do. One of the main things many of us fear is that they will spend hundreds of billions of dollars more than if the Republicans won the Senate and restrained the Democrats’ spending. But if Mitch McConnell caves so that the feds spend an extra $400 billion and the Republicans win in Georgia, they will have nullified a huge part of the reason for having the Republicans win in Georgia.

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Adding Demand to Increase Excess Demand

Possible 11th Pillar of Economic Wisdom: When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

One of the most absurd things that have happened with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is that politicians have been trying to increase demand for a vaccine of which, not surprisingly at a zero price, there is a shortage.

The rationale for putting Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence, and Karen Pence at the front of the line way ahead of almost all of the rest of us is that it will persuade people that it’s safe and those otherwise-hesitant people will be more willing to take it. They might be more willing to take it, but if that’s the rationale, the rationale makes zero sense in December. Tens of millions of us are ready to take it now. There’s no need to persuade people to take it when there isn’t enough in the short term to satisfy all willing takers.

Hmmm. Do you think there might be another reason for Pelosi, McConnell, and Pence to take it now? Let’s scratch our heads really hard and we might come up with a reason.

Here it is. They’re selfish people who are using their privileged position to get immunized. This is Newsom French Laundry all over again.

This “patriotic” behavior on their part is the opposite of admirable.

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Purdue Uses the Spike

As a number of universities have backed away from their initial plans to reopen to face to face classes in the wake of some evidence of COVID outbreaks on campus with the arrival of students, Purdue University president and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has decided to use Tullock’s Spike.

Purdue has, like many other institutions, spent the summer trying to prepare for having students back on campus.  They are requiring all students to submit a negative COVID test from no more than 14 days prior to arrival on campus.  They have set up labs for on campus testing, moved some classes on-line, and increased distancing requirements in dorms and public areas.  All of this has culminated in something that Daniels has required all students to sign – the Protect Purdue Pledge.  As part of that pledge, Purdue is requiring their students to commit to safe behavior or face punishment.  In the wake of actions of other universities, Daniels announced that students would now be prohibited from hosting or attending events- read here parties- that did not have social distancing or mask wearing.  Violations of that policy would be treated like stealing or illegal drug use.  In short, they would expel students who go to parties.

 

Setting aside for a moment arguments about the relative risks that students that age face from the virus, or the likelihood of them transmitting to others who might be at risk, all I want to say here is that somewhere Gordon Tullock is smiling.

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Bill Whalen and David Henderson Conversation

On June 4, my Hoover colleague Bill Whalen interviewed me about my latest article for Hoover’s Defining Ideas, “Just Say No to State & Local Bailouts,” June 3. I had heard and seen a talk by Bill on Zoom a week earlier and was impressed with his deep knowledge of California politics. His show is titled “Area 45.”

The interview was really a conversation, something I prefer to a standard interview. Bill has a charming personality, with just the right amount of humor.

In the first 20 or some minutes I make the case that I made in my article, in response to Bill’s questions. But he also raised an issue I hadn’t addressed in my article: whether on grounds of emergency aid, California’s state government should be given a bailout. I said no and I said why.

Some highlights from the rest of the conversation:

23:20: Why I worry that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will go along with some kind of bailout.

36:00: My case for bonds instead of tax increases. (My first choice, of course, is budget cuts.)

37:10: Why, if the feds do bail out California’s government, I would prefer aid with no strings over aid with strings.

38:30: States going their own way on coronavirus policy and why that’s important.

41:00: Related to what’s directly above: The states as laboratories of democracy and why that’s so important.

41:27: Why economists and other social scientists are almost orgasmic about the forthcoming data.

45:20: Eat the rich.

45:40: I’m seeing it as rich people saying “eat the rich.”

 

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