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04/11/2010

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NEH

So when is a contract not a contract? When the terms and conditions become onerous for one of the signatory parties? Are we about to witness, "The Death of Contract"? This may well become the new fertile ground for the intelligentsia in the Law Acadamies.

No matter how it's sliced and diced, we're in for some tough times ahead. Especially, for the signatories to these Contracts.

John David Galt

Once one concedes that Congress is entitled to hand out "pork", its members are in an incentive trap: each one has to try to bring home pork greater than what his constituents pay in taxes, or they'll replace him with somebody who will.

But I do not so concede.

If we're going to talk about contracts in this regard, then let's start with the contract that is supposed to trump all others: the Constitution in Exile, as explained in Judge Napolitano's book. Congress is not authorized to be in the entitlement business. Period.

NEH

Really? Ever bothered to read and develop a proper interpretation of the "Preamble to the Constitution"? Pay special attention to the clauses of "ensuring domestic tranquility", and "promoting the general welfare"... What ever happened to the legal/political philosophical concept of Social Contract? Is that even taught in schools anymore?

Brian Davis, Austin, TX

I'm resigned to believe the key trade-off for cooperative reflation will be rapid evaporation of the restrictions that remain on foreign investments in and direct ownership of U.S. assets, technologies, and financial intermediaries. Direct influence by foreign enterprises (including state-controlled and sovereign-wealth-funded) in U.S. political processes will follow in near lockstep. Americans will drink the kool-aid if enough of us are promised we can keep (or get) a paying job, our publicly-subsidized benefits, and our bread & circuses.

NEH

Ahh Yes, "Bread and Circuses" ..., they kept the Empire afloat for a thousand years. Until the "Barbarians" decided they wanted the same and then the whole deck of cards came tumbling down.

Sound familiar.

Glenn

One point neither Becker nor Posner makes is that the government can to some degree inflate its way out of debt, as happened in the 1970's, although inflation also has the effect of raising interest rates. The government cannot inflate its way out of entitlement obligations, since most of them one way or another are tied in to COLA's or other devices. The only way to reduce those is by actual reforms, including those mentioned by Becker and Posner.

Jack

Posner suggests: "It is a sad commentary on our political system that there is no movement today for a similar reform, which would raise the future age of entitlement to full social security benefits to 70 in recognition of continuing increases in longevity, health, and income."

........... Well, maybe, and "in the future". Just now as boomers age through retirement years it would simply add more working folk to a perhaps structurally stagnant economy unable to employ our workforce and in which we've 2 million unemployed recent college grads. Seventy might be OK for office workers but tough on those engaged, in the trades, assembly lines, coal mines, and god-forbid, injury prone meat packing plants where working conditions are again much like Upton Sinclair observed in "The Jungle".

........ What? No lament about successful or failed CEO's retiring at early ages via rigged "stock options" and golden parachutes? Ah! Those are private transactions and Ha! Ha! up to the stockholders.

.......... Posner correctly points out the kiddies "not likely taxes" making a presidential campaign based on slopping the hogs a near winner. Perhaps in the future when they gin up a war an immediate tax surcharge should accompany a proper declaration.

John Galt: Indeed, And same for industry tax breaks and benefits sought by an army of 150,000 lobbyists? But surely law enforcement including oversight of underwriting standards and imprisonment for those blatantly selling fictional bond ratings in cahoots with the Great Ponzi of the last decade? Would Aynn Rand conservatives like to try out the power of capitalism with a lot fewer distortions and short-circuits?

John

this partial deposition transcript just arrived:

Q. Posner, where were you when Dick Cheney said, "deficits don't matter?"

A. Ostrich mode, with my head in the sand and my . . . in the air.

Q. Do Deficits matter to conservatives and republicans when they are in power?

A. No, only cutting taxes for the rich matters. That is why no republican president in 80 years has run a surplus.

Q. Name our three most Keynesian presidents?

A. Reagan, Bush1 and Bush2 (deficits growing from 1st year in office to last year in office)

Q. Since WWII,our three least Keynesian presidents?

A. Truman, Clinton and Obama

Q. To reduce deficits, how does one vote

A. vote her straight Democratic

Jack

Ha! John! Good one. Irrefutable truth!

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