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Friday, March 29, 2013

Headlines: Hogs, Civil War, deficits

Posted by on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 7:07 AM

I turned the pages of the New York Times quickly this morning (yes, turned pages of the print edition) and passed a number of articles worthy of note, particularly:

* THE GREAT RAZORBACK MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN: Remember Dana Altman, the Creighton basketball coach who spent one day as Razorback coach, then gave it up to return home to Omaha. He's now coaching a Final 16 NCAA contender, Oregon. The New York Times explains why he moved on to Oregon after deciding he couldn't make a home in Arkansas. (Changed family circumstances, he said.)

* MEMPHIS: OLD TIMES THERE NOT FORGOTTEN: More reporting today on the hubbub in Memphis over city officials' decision to remove Confederate names from city parks. The KKK plans a march in Memphis Saturday.

WHICH REMINDS ME: Did we pass the annual January observance by Confederate commemorative groups of the hanging of spy David O. Dodd (I meant in original post to say he spied "on" Yankees, not for) without the traditional obligatory full coverage in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette? I can find no trace in an archive search at the newspaper website. The massive coverage was a product of now-retired executive editor Griffin Smith's passion for the subject. Perhaps now the misleading and at times erroneous boilerplate he ordered included in articles about the Central High crisis — Faubus apologia, essentially — will also pass into history.

* DEFICITS DON'T MATTER: Read Paul Krugman. He says the obsession — unfounded — with deficits is cheating the next generation.

Contrary to almost everything you read in the papers or see on TV, debt doesn’t directly make our nation poorer; it’s essentially money we owe to ourselves. Deficits would indirectly be making us poorer if they were either leading to big trade deficits, increasing our overseas borrowing, or crowding out investment, reducing future productive capacity. But they aren’t: Trade deficits are down, not up, while business investment has actually recovered fairly strongly from the slump. And the main reason businesses aren’t investing more is inadequate demand. They’re sitting on lots of cash, despite soaring profits, because there’s no reason to expand capacity when you aren’t selling enough to use the capacity you have. In fact, you can think of deficits mainly as a way to put some of that idle cash to use.

Yet there is, as I said, a lot of truth to the charge that we’re cheating our children. How? By neglecting public investment and failing to provide jobs.

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