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Yet more crap from the Economist

I do not bother to write articles attacking leftist stuff from openly leftist publications or broadcasters.

For example, it may irritate me that the BBC sneer at Sarah Palin as “close to the oil industry” when, in fact, the lady exposed corrupt links between oil and Alaska politics. And it may be annoying that the BBC sneers that Governor Palin made her speech with “her husband and children in tow”, when it did not say that Senator Obama had “his wife and children in tow” when he made his speech. But the BBC is the BBC… it is a leftist broadcaster and its job is to present a leftist view of the world – although it is irritating that people are forced to pay for the BBC.

However, the Economist is different, it claims to be a free market magazine (sorry “newspaper”) dedicated to rolling back the state – and it simply is not.

The latest example is the front cover story “Bring back the real McCain“. When one turns to the article it turns out to be yet another Economist attack on the “irresponsible” policy of John McCain – the policy of trying to keep tax rates from being increased, and even reducing some of the absurdly high tax rates presently in place. The general tone of the article was both that tax cuts for “the rich” are immoral and that, on top of this, they must be “paid for”.

Contrary to what the Economist seems to believe, it was not the reduction of top rates of tax that was the problem under President Bush – on the contrary the revenue from the top rates of tax increased. It was the wild increase in government spending that has been the problem under President Bush.

Not just the mis-management of the Iraq war, although whatever one thinks of the judgement to go into Iraq in the first place the lack of planning for an insurgency meant a lot more blood and treasure being spent in the long run than would have been spent if more troops had been sent in the first place. There has also been all the subsidies, new entitlement programs and other wild spending and, again contrary to what the Economist thinks, the “earmarks” have been very important – for often Congressmen and Senators only vote for a spending bill because of the little earmark for some special interest buried on page…

And who in the Senate has been the most important voice of opposition to all this wild spending over the last few years – for all his faults, it has been John McCain. So for the Economist to claim he is not tough enough on spending to “pay for” his desire to make taxation less heavy is absurd, anti-earmark McCain is but it does not stop there – and, as stated above, the earmarks grease the wheels for the rest of the spending.

As for the idea that higher rates of tax at the top end will mean more revenue, the basis of the Economist claim that not ending the Bush tax rate reductions will cost X vast amount of revenue, this claim does not just ignore the reality of higher revenue from the reductions in the top rates of certain taxes under Bush, it ignores what happened under both Reagan and Thatcher, and under President Kennedy, and under every government that has reduced high top rates of tax since at least the Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany in the 18th century. Perhaps Grand Duke Leopold is too recent for the Economist writers, but to the horror of collectivists, “tax cuts for the rich” really do “pay for themselves”.

However, there is also another factor. On the very day the Economist hit the shelves, its sister publication the Financial Times reported that yet more companies were leaving the United Kingdom because of our very high rate of Corporation Tax.

Yes, you guessed it, the American combined State and Federal Corporation Tax burden is actually worse than that of the United Kingdom. “But lots of American corporations do not pay Corporation Tax” – the ones that make losses do not pay for they have no profits to pay tax out of (hint – this is not a good thing for the corporations concerned), other companies do not pay because they are not “corporations” at all – they are privately owned companies whose owners pay income tax on their profits.

Sadly ignorant of all of the above, the Economist specifically targeted John McCain’s proposal to reduced the rate of Corporation Tax as one of his “irresponsible” policies.

John McCain is no economic genius, but has shown the ability to learn. The Economist writers show no such ability, all they can do is to trot out the moronic collectivism they were taught at school and university. I know I have said this before, but it needs saying whilst the Economist still pretends to be a “free market” publication.

24 comments to Yet more crap from the Economist

  • M

    It would be interesting to know what the candidates think on the policies of the Fed under Greenspan and Bernanke. But I doubt the media will ask them much about it. My guess is that monetary policy is completely way over the heads of Obama and McCain.

  • lucklucky

    The steady degradation of media continues. it might be the biggest disaster in Western World.

  • RAB

    Fallen off the wagon again then Paul?
    You promised you’d never read that rag again,
    oh a thousand times. 😉

  • After subscribing to the Economist for the better part of 20 years, I told them last month that enough was enough, and I was not renewing.

    They’ve done wonders with their circulation figures in that time, but the chase for more sales has killed the content. I should have stopped ordering it a few years ago.

  • tranio

    I’m another that dropped my subscription to the Economist several years ago. The Net and News Services like Bloomberg allow me to keep up to date thank you very much.

  • mickster

    30 years ago when I snuck in to read the magazine (not newspaper) on my infrequent visits to the campus library I was the lone apostate amongst a bunch of Marxists who saw the very name “Economist” as reflective of it’s corruption. Now those same marxists/journalism students lecture us from the magazine they have taken over but learnt nothing from. It should be printed in pink as a warning like it’s stable-mate. Now I read it when I need to kill an hour on the train home drunk on a Friday night.

  • Vercingetorix

    Have to do this:

    Not just the mis-management of the Iraq war, although whatever one thinks of the judgement to go into Iraq in the first place the lack of planning for an insurgency meant a lot more blood and treasure being spent in the long run than would have been spent if more troops had been sent in the first place.

    The Surge should have put to bed all of the “not enough troops” arguments.

    We did not need, nor were we ever going to get 1/2 million troops for Iraq. And it doesn’t matter how many troops you throw at a war but how they are used. Besides, a blanket number is always silly; exactly how many troops-worth are an M1A1 tank, or an A-10? Or a satellite or the GPS network, strategic bombers from CONUS or Diego Garcia, hospitals in the Gulf and in Europe, a Predator, a Blackhawk, or a SEAL team? An informant?

    Resting on raw numbers for military success is like throwing cash at a problem and expecting it to resolve itself. We know that isn’t the case for almost any issue, especially the readers of this blog. And castigating the war effort based on a top-down plan (lack of or insufficiency of) is exactly the wrong approach; the solution was from the ground-up, from Lance Corporals and Captains drinking tea with the locals, not from power-tied slick talkers pumping out white-papers.

    With the surge, barely a 10-15 percent increase in fielded troops caused a total reversal of the war from almost-lost to damn-near won. That should hint that it was not raw numbers alone that did it, but TACTICS. And let’s be honest, for all the power of a presidency, the tactical competence of the armed forces isn’t one of the enumerated powers of the Executive. We in the armed services refused to retain the lessons-learned from Vietnam, and so we had to relearn them. No politician can rescue someone from their own stupid failures, not Bush, not Jesus-age Christ.

    There are plenty of reasons that the Iraq War went south – and yes, troop numbers and an pre-planning were among them – but that does not mean that an exquisite post-war plan with double (triple!) the garrison would have made Iraq go swimmingly. The war could have inoperated the best laid plan immediately (indeed, almost certainly would have, that is the nature of war) and if those extra divisions were locked into garrisons outside of the Sunni Triangle (like the forces actually were – so as not to provoke an insurgency, in the top brass’ tragically wrong thinking of the time), then we could have deployed every soldier, police officer, sailor, fireman, boyscout, Marine and airman in uniform to the conflict without a difference. We almost failed because of the way we fought, not the way we planned.

  • renminbi

    Let my subscription lapse and feel good not having to read that rag.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I love the way the BBC sneers at Mrs Palin for having her “husband and wife in tow”, as if The One never would dream of such a thing.

    Let’s face it, Ms Palin is a bit of a looker, is an NRA member, comes across as normal, and that really pisses off the lefty media.

    (Full disclosure: a relation of mine works for Sarah Palin and tells me she is pretty sound).

  • Snag

    I love the way the BBC sneers at Mrs Palin for having her “husband and wife in tow”

    Now that WOULD be a story!

  • Michael Taylor

    Stopped reading it years ago after:
    1. They editorialised at how Sterling had gone into the ERM at the wrong rate – they thought the entry rate was too low!

    2. They editorialized that the way to deal with South Africa’s apartheid regime was to get all central banks to sell their reserves of gold.

    At that point, it became clear it was written by idiots.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes it was the TACTICS that were at fault in Iraq.

    O.K. John McCain (and Generals Petraeus and Keane) were correct and George Walker Bush was – well let us forget about this man.


    I have said I do not buy the Economist – and I do not.

    However, if I am in a library I may pick up a copy and look at it.

    Normally the first article I read will give me material for a “why the Economist is crap” article.

    I would not bother to write such articles if people did not go round claiming the Economist is a “free market” magazine.

    It simply is not – no more than the B.B.C. or the Guardian newspaper have a free market point of view.

  • RAB

    Appologies Paul.
    I just cant help myself sometimes.

  • RRS

    Perhaps we should consider that the life blood of periodical writers ( the “wordsmiths” – as Nozick called them) is having subjects to write about. The situation might be compared to that of “Tax Lawyers” (of whom this writer was one in the early 50s before escaping That thralldom) and other taxation specialists. If the subject matter, be it taxation or government, shrinks the value of the writers or lawyers declines (threatening the necessity of productive work – rather than damage control).

    So it is that writers benefit from expansions of governments and the proliferations of governmental activities. The Economist is no exception. It’s circulation has expanded with the roles of governments. It has “staffed up” to keep up; and like the FT (which I have dropped despite losing Martin Wolf) takes what is on offer from the training camps for writers.

  • Paul Marks

    I did not reply to M’s question.

    Sadly the information I have is not good for the candidate I support – but I must give an honest reply.

    John McCain was actually asked if he understood monetary policy and replied that he did not – so far not so bad, as (I would guess) that fewer than one person in a million understands monetary policy, so it is good that McCain at least understood that he did not understand.

    However, John McCain also said that he was reading a book by Alan Greenspan – and it is difficult to think of a worse source on monetary policy than the so called “libertarian” Greenspan.


    A man who is as overserious as me should have his leg pulled from time to time.


    Sadly I suspect you are correct.

    I remember Hayek saying that his socialist friends tried to convince him that he should be a socialist – as an economist would have much more to do under socialism.

    And they were right. Under socialism economist would “plan production”, whereas in a real free market all an “economist” would be is a person who is interested in economics.

    Someone who reads about it, writes stuff about it (in journals that only a few people would read – so he would not paid for writing these articles) and chats about it the subject with friends.

    Before going off to a job as a security guard or a cleaner (or whatever), as a person so very interested in such a theoretical subject would be unlikely to have much of a mind left for anything other than a menial job.

    After all the greatest economist of the 20th century, Ludwig Von Mises, never held a paid university position in his very long life. His teaching in the United States was during a period of his life when his living expenses were paid by certain charitable individuals.

    Even Hayek did not actually hold an economics position at the University of Chicago (he was in the history of thought area I seem to remember) and he was less of a pure free market man than Mises was.

    Take the point that M brings up.

    Government officials ask “what should our monetary policy be” – how much money do you think they are going to pay to someone who replies by saying “you should have not a monetary policy, you should not be trying to produce extra credit at all”.

  • voluble

    I own 50% of a privately held corporation in the US that I and my partner started ourselves. If the business pays income taxes at all then I haven’t done my job properly. All we have to do is spend everything we have every year so that we don’t show a profit. This is fine to an extent and is not so much a burden given the industry I am in.

    The main thing it does though is limit the amount of money that we can put aside for investments in the future (or put away as a cushion for bad times) and encourages us to use credit instead of cash since we can deduct one and not the other. Politicians still have not noodled out that if you reward the accumulation of debt and punish the accumulation of wealth you haven’t really done anyone a favor.

    I should also add that since mine is a small business we are allowed to write off the full cost of certain capital expenditures due to Bush having increased the limit on these investments before the expense has to be amortized. This has done much to alleviate some of the side effects of punishing the accumulation of capital. All of this is just to note that there is a difference between the tax rate and the rate at which taxes are actually paid.

    Having made enough money for myself, I am just in business for my partner and our employees. Should the ridiculous Mr. Obama be elected it is my plan to either sell or close the business. Life is too short to be spent engaged in hand-to-hand combat with one’s own government. I simply don’t need the grief and the money won’t be good enough to put up with the burden. People forget that not everyone is forced to do business under the terms the government imposes. Commerce can, and does, cease where the conditions are not appropriate.

    A final observation… I think the US is suffering from its success in that a new generation that has never known want is coming of age. The last serious recession we had was from Carter’s turn at the wheel back in the 70’s. Since most people do not become politically aware until their late teens or twenties we have a new wave of people coming on the scene who have never been confronted with the abject failure of the policies they are espousing. You see the symptoms of this in the fact that people are openly advocating things that are patently absurd such as wage and price controls, the nationalisation of certain industries or the forced conscription of our children and young adults into “mandatory community service programs.” Things that are inimical to the accumulation of the wealth and leisure time that allows such absurdities to even be contemplated let alone implemented.

    I am not familiar with the Economist but it seems the same dynamic may be at work there as well.

  • M

    However, John McCain also said that he was reading a book by Alan Greenspan – and it is difficult to think of a worse source on monetary policy than the so called “libertarian” Greenspan.

    I vaguely remember reading about that too. I have also read that Gordon Brown gets advice from Greenspan. Very, very worrying.

  • Paul Marks

    Hard to fit that with Mr Brown’s actions of inceasing taxation (and making taxes more complicated), and increasing government spending.

    At least Greenspan is supposed to be fiscal conservative – even if his advice on every monetary problem (every crash, every crises) is to push out more credit/money. Unaware that the problem was caused by the previous pushing out of credit/money.

  • Paul Marks


    You work in order to not show a profit.

    And you borrow money (use credit) rather than use profits (cash) for normal investments – just replacing stuff that wears out and so on.

    As you say even the present tax system is crazy – both in the level and the complexity of taxes that lead to you acting like this.

    Lower and simpler taxes are the sane way to go – but, the Economist says, such a policy would be “irresponsible” and imoral “giving money” to the rich.

  • tranio

    Let us also not forget the famous Economist cover predicting oil going to $5 a barrel.

  • Sean O'Callaghan

    I’m a contrarian by nature and wasn’t buying the media’s take on the ‘disaster’ that was the Iraq occupation. Right after Saddam was toppled Bush was asked what he thought of foreign fighters entering the country to take on the US. He said “bring it on”. Maybe, just maybe, we’re led by people who figured the swamp needed draining and the only way to do that was to make it look to the enemy like they had a chance, draw them into the country, then annihilate them. While a lot of soldiers and civilians were killed in the process – I doubt there are many Islamists looking to mix it up with the US military now – any that do are unlikely to be with us much longer. While I wish all had been peachy right from the start – maybe we’re better off in the long run? The notion that America was a paper tiger that could be defeated by inflicting relatively minor casualties was a dangerous idea – one that was worth the effort to disprove. Unfortunately, the only way to prove you can take casualties is to take them. Here’s hoping the next president doesn’t go and squander it….

  • Paul Marks

    In the article about McCain (in the issue of the Economist I point to) it “praises” him for his acceptance of American casualties in Iraq – thus missing the point (or rather deliberately hiding the point) that John McCain argued for totally different tactics, which would have meant far FEWER Americans died after 2003.

    The Economist plays it both ways – it says it supports the war, but in the same issue it runs a film reviews talking about the “failed occupation” (not a once failing mission that was turned around – the turning round point is never mentioned) and blames the fact that people do not tend to go see Hollywood’s death-to-America films on the war being unpopular.

    It does not occur to the film reviewer that most people are sick and tied of Hollywood’s anti American (and anti West) bias (which is covered up by phony patriotism) – and are tied of the same bias from the rest of the mainstream media (including the Economist).

    After all if the Economist ever ran reviews of the such best selling books as “Obama Nation” and “The Case Against Barack Obama” it is easy to guess that the reviews would be hostile.

    This “free market” magazine is rotten to the core.

  • James Waterton

    When will The Economist endorse a candidate? Gee, I wonder who they’ll pick?

  • Add my name to those who let their Economist subscription lapse having watched it lose its way entirely. It’s understanding of Russia is woeful.