He sums it up neatly in his June 14th column on Modern Monetary Theory, the belief that as long as a government prints its own money, it “never (has) to worry about defaulting on the debt.”
Although policymakers have been testing this theory (particularly so this century) since the inflation of the 1970s was brought to heel, he accurately pegs President Trump with the dubious distinction of being our first MMT president.
The only misstep he makes along the way is repeating the popular myth that cutting taxes “add(s) … to the national debt” (spending is always and everywhere the culprit). That’s an improvement on prior columns dating back to March.
But EN readers wouldn’t know that.
When he reported on the possibility of a universal basic income becoming a reality thanks to some nanny-state republicans, he mistakenly claimed that such a transfer was a “previously untried solution to alleviating the effects of a recession.” He then compared it favorably to a similar program in one of our least populous states (Alaska), disregarding the challenges of scale.
A month later, he claimed “a more libertarian approach” to welfare would be to essentially increase outlays. Not one principled libertarian would agree.
But it’s not just Mr. Taylor.
Though the EN has paid lip service to landlord concerns, the only voices we’ve heard are those promoting a “taxpayer subsidy” as a “gift,” one that decries the “shortcomings of our current economic system,” and one based on a distorted interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
Not one substantive, principled defense of the rental transaction is anywhere to be found.
In fact, the only commentary I’ve seen in recent months that could be understood as conservative-leaning was one calling “for big government to get lean.” Delightful was the thought of Keynesian and FDR worshipers’ heads’ spinning at the line “officials must cut spending if the Texas economy is to fully recover,” but I digress.
To area newspaper readers newly engaged in government, politics and economics, this unanimity of views becomes the uncontested gospel. The issue is even more acute in these days of mostly one-newspaper towns.
It’s distinctly possible that the newsroom and editors are guided by the misconception that what’s good for the consumer (which is all of us) rules above all, especially since there are so few producers. After all, the broader media and political establishment has misled the public into believing that consumer spending drives economic growth.
Setting aside for the moment the impropriety of domineering, extractive measures levied against a particular segment of the population, such actions are not without unintended, counterproductive consequences.
You can’t enact numerous rental regulations without expecting a decrease in the quantity and/or quality of housing. You can’t make welfare easier and be surprised when employment drops. You can’t overly tax, in a complicated way no less, and be shocked when investment declines, thereby hampering the real source of prosperity.
A news organization doesn’t have be expert about these angles, but it performs a disservice to a reading public when it doesn’t at least present balancing views.
In fairness, though I take advantage of full online access, I have only the Sunday edition of the EN delivered to my doorstep (I’m old-fashioned that way), so I may have missed some counterpoint essays. It’s not for lack of trying to update my subscription though.
The customer service folks I’ve talked with, polite though they’ve been, seemed clueless on how to help me. My efforts online met the same end, and I’ve personally heard similar accounts from leaders in local academic, finance and business circles.
When the EN overhauled last year, and the paper was downsized, I was sympathetic to the argument that “giving content away … for free” is not the way to go. It’s why I also subscribe to The Wall Street Journal and New York Times. I’m no newspaper operations manager, but that might point to room for improvement.
As much as we consume national news these days, why not focus more on local issues, including substituting more local perspectives for the nationally syndicated columns? If space can be made for the false assertion that “it’s the working class that built this city,” certainly there’s room to enlighten readers of the entrepreneurial vision that made it a possibility in the first place.
A couple years ago, for our first anniversary (paper being the traditional gift), my wife arranged a tour of the EN facility. It was a cool experience, despite it being a fraction of what it used to be. As I’ve told the new editor, I strongly believe in the importance of a solid local/regional newspaper.
The aforementioned are merely concerns and ideas humbly submitted by one subscriber