September 09, 2013
Speak Softly And Carry a Big Stick, But Not Too Big. Or Too Small. Really More of a Medium Sized Stick, Like Mama Bear Would Use…
In making the case for war, Obama Administration officials this weekend explained that we have two specific objectives in launching a military strike on Syria:
It is only when you clearly define your goals like this that you can have any expectation of success, not to mention have any chance to win over a skeptical public. As one official elaborated, the planned U.S. military strike will:
“Do more damage to the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 48 hours than Syrian rebels have done in two years of civil war.”
This sentiment was echoed by Secretary of State John Kerry who added,
“We’re talking about doing an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”
Reportedly, Secretary Kerry was trying to allay fears that we were already experiencing mission creep. As another administration official explained:
“I define ‘mission creep’ as shifting the objective, not the means.”
And you can’t really shift an objective when there isn’t one.
If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably thinking, “No, seriously, you disappear for nine months and you’re acting like nothing happened.”
Also, “This is very confusing. Given the gravity of what is being asked of us, and the seriousness of launching military strikes on a sovereign nation that has not attacked us and represents no imminent threat, is there any way you could find an administration official who could explain this to us as if we were five-year-old children incapable of analytical thought?”
You bet there is. According to the 37th anonymous Administration official to be quoted since last Friday:
“If Assad is eating Cheerios, we're going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he'll still be able to eat Cheerios.”
This still leaves open the question of how precisely can you calibrate at attack on President Assad’s breakfast habits. What if we go too far and he has to use skim milk, or worse, is forced to substitute ShopRite brand Toasted Oats. What wrath might he hurl down upon our own breakfast industrial complex? Or what if we don’t go far enough and all that happens is that the ones on the bottom get a little soggy. Where will our credibility be then?
So, where does that leave us, aside from craving a big bowl of cereal?
Secretary Kerry has threatened to attack Syria, for which he has no congressional authorization, unless they turn over their chemical weapons, which they have agreed to do, but that still won’t stop us, because the international community demands that we attack , even though no one in the international community is actually willing to support an attack.
In totally unrelated news, a large majority of Americans oppose attacking Syria.
September 06, 2013
Remember, Always Rinse Your Produce to Remove The Sarin Residue
The story that is clearly dominating the headlines this week is the very real potential for retaliation against the use of chemical weapons on innocent children by what can only be described as an evil and morally bankrupt monster.
We speak of course of the American agriculture industry.
This, according to Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale press, a position she achieved through old-fashioned hard work, sacrifice, and sharing the last name, “Rodale” with the company’s founder. In an open letter to President Obama she wrote:
“Yes, Syria has undoubtedly used
chemical weapons on its own people. Maybe it was the government; maybe it was
the opposition; maybe you know for sure. But here's what I know for sure: We
are no better. We have been using chemical weapons on our own children -- and
ourselves -- for decades, the chemical weapons we use in agriculture to win the
war on pests, weeds, and the false need for ever greater yields."
(Although presumably that “false need” depends on whether or not you are among the millions of people not starving to death right now.)
Regardless, the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria has certainly received most of the press what with images of young Syrian children suffering gruesome, painful deaths, but is the agricultural industry’s use of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals to enhance yields, create bountiful harvests and feed a growing population around the world really all that different?
If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably thinking, “I waited nine months for this?” Also, “You know what, if pressed, I would probably come down on the side of this being a little bit different.”
Keep in mind however that you are not an accomplished businesswoman with years of experience being the granddaughter of J.I. Rodale.
As she explains,
“As the CEO of the world's leading health-and-wellness publisher and the granddaughter of the founder of the organic movement in America, I am uniquely qualified to explain it to you.”
Exactly. Just as you would be uniquely qualified to take the controls of a 747 on its final approach to JFK were you the granddaughter of the founder of Boeing.
Likewise, her extensive publishing experience which includes cover articles such as, “33 Secrets to Sizzling Summer Sex,” and “4 Sex Positions Every Man Should Try” clearly qualifies her to lecture the rest of us on biochemical processes, physiology, and oncology. In fact, when it comes to the efficacy and safety of pesticides, who are you going to listen to? Esteemed scientists in the field, or the person behind such groundbreaking research as “Does She Deserve a Spanking? Yes! In fact, she's far kinkier than you think”?
You see, chemical pesticides are killing our children just as assuredly as sarin gas killed those Syrian youngsters, just a lot more slowly. Like, really, really slowly. So slowly in fact, that it appears to be actually killing them backwards.
Sometimes when it comes to apocalypse, you have to be patient.
As Ms. Rodale explains:
“We've been trying to tell you for years that chemical companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, Bayer Crops Sciences, and others are poisoning our children and our environment with your support and even, it seems, your encouragement. Just because their bodies aren't lined up wrapped in sheets on the front pages of the newspapers around the world doesn't mean it's not true.”
Exactly, just because something isn’t happening doesn’t mean it isn't happening.
Okay, that one is probably going to need some work.
No matter, as you can plainly see, why on earth would we contemplate dropping bombs on people accused of using chemical weapons based on dubious evidence when we can instead be dropping bombs on people accused of using chemical weapons based on no evidence whatsoever!
Besides, unlike some places, it’s a lot less likely that an attack on Monsanto is going radicalize Matilda from accounting or result in Missouri descending into widespread anarchy and chaos.
Well, except maybe for nearby East St. Louis.
Note to Readers: For those of you wondering why I haven’t posted in nine months, I actually have a very good explanation.
December 19, 2012
But We Have to Do Something! And Apparently It Really Doesn’t Matter What.Naturally, people were horrified at the unspeakable atrocity visited upon Sandy Hook Elementary School this past Friday and want to know what measures are being taken to see to it that such tragedies are avoided in the future:
Q: What should we do?
A: First, we need to act as swiftly as we can.
A: It is commonly understood that the best decisions are usually made in the heat of the moment, when passions are highest and people are so blinded with grief or rage that they are willing to accept any solution no matter how pointless and ineffective.
A: Exactly! For example, Senator Joe Lieberman has already carefully laid out his reasoning for the need for more gun control. You’ll have to bear with us, it’s full of technocratic jargon (you know Joe!), but this is the kind level-headedness we need from our leaders at a time like this:
"We've got to continue to hear the screams of these children and see their blood until we do something?"
Q: That doesn’t sound that level headed. Does anybody have any specific proposals?
A: Well, University of Rhode Island Professor Erik Loomis has put forth a detailed plan meant to address the root causes of the tragedy:
“[I] want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.”
A: That may be true, but as Professor Loomis puts it so eloquently,
“[F]*ck the NRA."
Q: Okay, are there any serious legislative proposals being made?
A: Of course there are. For example, Senator Diane Feinstein has called for a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban.
Q: The killer used one of the previously banned assault weapons?
Q: That doesn’t seem very productive.
A: Well, the White House has also proposed to require background checks at gun shows.
Q: The killer purchased his firearms at a gun show?
Q: Then how does it make any sense to propose a grab bag of gun control legislation most of which was already in place in Connecticut where the laws are among the toughest in the nation and did nothing to deter this?
A: What are you, some kind of monster? There are dead kids out there!
Q: It’s just that there are reasonable arguments as to the role gun rights play in securing civil rights and actually saving lives.
A: Do you like dead kids?
Q: What? No! Of course not.
A: Because it’s starting to sound like you like dead kids.
Q: No, it’s just that mass murders are actually down.
A: Dead kids.
Q: Schools have never been safer.
A: Dead kids.
Q: And these massacres occur almost exclusively in areas where the government has specifically banned guns strongly suggesting…
A: Dead kids.
Q: You’re not even trying now.
December 12, 2012
Fighting for the Working Man. No, Literally…There has been some controversy of late over a little tussle that occurred in Michigan where state legislators were voting on a “right to work” law that could potentially undermine union influence and power in the state. Naturally, union members turned out to protest the law however some people have misinterpreted their enthusiasm and vigor. To help clear things up we thought we’d address the confusion with a quick Q&A:
Q: What happened? It appeared that union members physically attacked people engaging in constitutionally protected free speech.
A: No, no, nothing could be further from the truth.
Q: Look at the video, one guy just started laying in on Steven Crowder with left and right roundhouse punches.
A: That was just a metaphor.
Q: A metaphor?
A: Sure. The individual was simply expressing the essential conflict between left and right common in non-parliamentary democracies in which two dominant parties yptically “fight it out” if you will, in the field of ideas.
Q: But he was literally punching the guy in the face in an actual field.
A: Think of his face as a canvas on which the union member/interpretive artist was painting a picture.
Q: The guy punched him in the face! This is absolutely outrageous and under no circumstances can it be allowed to go unpunished.
A: Whoa, whoa, easy on the inflammatory rhetoric there. You wouldn’t want to incite some Tea Party nut into engaging in violence, such as criticizing Obamacare, or possibly creating a sign expressing disapproval of the current administration.
Q: That’s violent?
A: Absolutely. Violent to anyone’s sense of fairness.
Q: What about actual violence, like physically tearing down a tent with people still inside?
A: That was a misunderstanding.
Q: What about the Michigan legislator who promised “there will be blood?”
A: Hey, that could mean anything.
Q: And why isn’t the media paying any attention to this? They turned over rocks looking for signs of Tea Party violence but they can’t be bothered to report on this?
A: Report on what?
Q: The union violence and threats from elected Democrats?
A: There was union violence and threats from elected Democrats?
A: Well, we didn’t read anything about that in the papers…
November 07, 2012
We Demand a Recount!
Okay, so our guy lost. But did he lose in the larger sense?
Yes, he lost there too.
But then, we do not feel we “wasted” our vote. After all, Mitt Romney is exactly the same amount of not president as Gary Johnson.
Still, Barack Obama is, by any measure that places a value on freedom, liberty, and self-determination, a miserable failure, and yet he still won. How could this be?
Because no one uses any measure that places a value on freedom, liberty, and self-determination. After all, freedom sounds kind of hard, liberty is probably a lot of work too, and self-determination might actually involve getting a job and moving out of your parent’s basement.
Free stuff on the other hand has three major attractions:
- It’s free.
- You don’t have pay for it.
- The price is $0.00.
We're starting to see the appeal
As you can see from the chart below, Barack Obama likes to give away free stuff.
You know you’re a big spender when you increase spending faster than strict fiscal disciplinary Republicans do.
Of course, we all expect free things from our government, like free water in disasters. Sure, you can’t get any, but at least it’s free.
Then there’s the free money the Federal Reserve creates out of thin air. Hey, it’s free!
You might be saying to yourself, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
Well, that all depends on which side of the table you’re sitting on, doesn't it.
In other news:
“With the election of progressive Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Obama’s longtime backers feel the liberal spirit inside the president could be unleashed: climate change, gun control, and immigration reform perhaps heading to the top of the agenda.”
Does anyone know what the weather is like in the Cayman Islands this time of year?
November 05, 2012
Our Utterly Pointless Presidential EndorsementPresidential candidates do not typically covet a Planet Moron endorsement. There are several reasons for this:
1) They have never heard of Planet Moron.
Okay, there’s only one reason.
It also doesn’t help that the majority of Planet Moron readers are ineligible to vote due to prior felony convictions, lack of any fixed address, or the inability to climb out of the bottle long enough to fill out a voter registration card.
Be that as it may, we feel a duty to let our faithful reader(s) know where we stand in this election. To help follow our thinking, we thought we’d first highlight the issues that are most important to us this presidential cycle.
Not being assassinated by the president.
We have not been particularly concerned with this issue in prior presidential elections partly because we did not know that the President can assassinate American citizens.
We really need to keep up with current events better.
Regardless, we would very much prefer that the candidate we vote for does not believe he can kill us. Sorry, that may be considered extreme but there are just some things we are not willing to compromise on, and the President blowing us up together with our family, friends, and neighbors with Predator drones is just one of those things that kind of leaves a sour taste in our mouth.
Avoiding fiscal catastrophe
Trillion-dollar deficits may not seem like much, but consider this: If you were to line up one trillion one-dollar bills end to end they would reach from here to the moon and back again an extremely large number of times.
Yeah, it’s that much.
So, in order to get our vote, our candidate has to demonstrate he or she is serious about the deficit.
Rejecting the use of a leviathan government to trample what’s left of our freedoms
We are well aware of the fact that most people are for trampling people’s freedoms. Other people’s freedoms. Not theirs. Here at Planet Moron we don’t care what you do as long as you don’t bother us.
So, let’s see how the major candidates, President Obama, and Governor Romney, fare with our issues.
Avoiding fiscal catastrophe.
Both believe that is good in theory. In practice, not so much.
Rejecting leviathan government trampling our freedoms.
Both are pretty much good to go with a leviathan government trampling our freedoms.
Clearly, there’s a lot to think about there. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the minor-party candidates:
Virgil Goode, Constitution Party
“We must preserve and protect Social Security. Social Security is owed over two trillion dollars. Social Security should be repaid and have real money in the Social Security Trust Fund and not IOU's.”
Mr. Goode also believes the path to prosperity is through a trade war.
Rocky Anderson, Justice Party
Rocky Anderson feels strongly about our rights and freedoms and wants to repeal major parts of the Patriot Act. And then make unions more powerful, increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour and force us all to fight “climate change.”
Jill Stein, Green Party
“Create a Corporation for Economic Democracy, a new federal corporation (like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) to provide publicity, training, education, and direct financing for cooperative development and for democratic reforms to make government agencies, private associations, and business enterprises more participatory.”
No one knows what any of that means including Jill Stein.
Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party
For the most part, it appears that Gary Johnson isn't interested in killing us, leading us into fiscal catastrophe or trampling our freedoms.
It looks like we found our guy.
Will he win? No. But if he gets to 5% maybe, just maybe, we can start to turn this thing around.
And for those who suggest that we are “throwing our vote away,” well, so are you.Happy voting everyone, and not to worry, no matter who wins, we plan to be here over the next four years to document the perfidy, incompetence, and corruption, that will surely follow.
October 26, 2012
Economic PatronizingThis week the President released "Economic Patriotism: A Plan for Jobs & Middle Class Security," (pdf) a detailed roadmap consisting of many dozens of words including "middle class," "tax cuts," and "middle class."
Also, “middle class.”
And “tax cuts.”
In fact, here are some representative excerpts from the plan:
“I want to continue those tax cuts for middle-class families and for small businesses.”
Extending the middle-class income tax cuts… would prevent 97% of small business owners from facing a tax increase.
We can make college more affordable by continuing tax credits to help middle-class families afford college tuition.
The Obama Record: Cutting taxes for the Middle Class.
To strengthen the middle class, President Obama passed wide-ranging tax relief.
And the President has provided new tax cuts to help the middle class afford higher education and health care.
The plan makes sure millionaires aren’t paying lower tax rates than many middle-class families.
President Obama’s plan keeps middle-class tax cuts in place.”
Keep in mind the plan is only 11 pages long.
Regardless, it is pretty clear that the President believes the middle class needs middle class tax cuts for the middle class.
Additionally, the President’s plan includes the most important element of any economic policy agenda if it’s going to be taken at all seriously:
A thoroughly detailed and specific set of pictures of Barack Obama.
In fact, on every single page the small text is crowded out by huge, glossy, full-color pictures of Barack Obama.
What do these pictures tell us the President is going to do if he is reelected?
For one, he is going to eat breakfast. Experts will tell you that breakfast is the most important jobs plan of the day.
He is also going to bother you at work.
Even if that means standing at high, overly reflective counters to no obvious purpose.
He will also come over to your house and watch your children.
He will consult with your doctors regarding the proper course of your treatment.
And he will wear Dockers on casual Friday.
Finally, we have a reason to vote for a President, rather than just against his opponent.
October 16, 2012
CONSENSUS WATCH – 10/16/2012
An ongoing series dedicated to vigorously monitoring emerging threats to The Consensus that global warming is real, caused by humans, and must be addressed at all costs. Because without consensus, scientific conclusions would remain vulnerable to new data.
One of the barriers to convincing the general public that the world is indeed warming due to the human-produced emissions of carbon dioxide is people’s woeful misunderstanding of science in general and the scientific process in particular.
For example (and we feel silly even having to bring this up), when people who are not scientists are told that the earth is going to get warmer they tend to, for whatever reason, assume that the earth is going to get warmer.
We blame the public school system.
Naturally, with this faulty assumption in mind, the news that the earth hasn’t actually warmed for the past 16 straight years despite continuing increases in man-made atmospheric carbon dioxide creates unwarranted doubt among common people. They start suggesting, based on nothing more than the fact that the earth hasn’t warmed, that perhaps models that predicted the earth would warm are wrong.
Now how about we all calm down and look at this like a scientist does, shall we?
Take, for example, famed climatologist Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. He takes the issue head on, explaining to people who might be skeptical that global warming is real:
“We don’t fully understand how to input things like changes in the oceans, and because we don’t fully understand it you could say that natural variability is now working to suppress the warming. We don’t know what natural variability is doing.”
See? It’s just that they don’t understand it. It’s not as if the models are in any way wrong and need to be fundamentally changed. It's that they just don't happen to be able to reliably predict observed data given a set of known inputs.
If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably thinking, “I like cheese.” Also, “Shouldn’t scientists consider changing their minds in the face of new data?
Of course they should. For example, in 2009, Professor Jones, commenting on the lack of warming said that:
“…the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.”
Now that he’s had a chance to review the new data indicating that we have had “no upward trend” for 16 years, he’s changed his mind
Now he believes that you probably need 20 years before you get worried.
See, and you thought Consensus scientists were inflexible.
In fact, they are so flexible that after years of data that showed little increase in hurricane activity despite predictions to the contrary, they realized that they to rethink the problem. Their solution?
Count things that aren’t hurricanes instead.
By examining the historic record on things that aren't hurricanes such as storm surges, which may or may not have anything to do with hurricanes, scientists can now say that, sure enough, warming causes more hurricanes. Or potential hurricanes. Or things that could be hurricanes. Or not.
Also, it's not warming.
It doesn’t matter. We have a Consensus.
Which reminds us, evidence for global warming can no longer be found in Antarctica “where the bottom of the world is literally melting away”
It is now literally freezing its way up, and increasing in overall ice mass.
Regardless, even though the Antarctic is not melting, the penguins are still going to die because it’s going to melt.
Now that’s flexible.
Now you have a chance to show your support for The Consensus with the Shut up, that’s why T-shirt, the perfect answer to anyone who dares to question the science behind global warming.
In addition to the T-shirt we also have a fashionable beach tote and a set of stackable mugs, so you’ll have the opportunity to show the world that you’re smart enough to know when not to ask too many questions.
And while you're at it, make sure the world knows you won't allow yourself to be bullied by facts with our extensive line of CONSENSUS WATCH MERCHANDISE!
We also have the classic Consensus Watch coffee mug, bag, and beer stein (along with assorted T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other garments): "Consensus Watch Because without consensus, scientific conclusions would remain vulnerable to new data" plus a complete line of "Stop raping the planet! You may, however, touch it inappropriately," items (shirts, coasters, stickers, buttons)
All proceeds raised from the sale of Consensus Watch merchandise go towards ensuring that we never run out of gin.
October 03, 2012
But what about the children? Of Agriculture Department Grant Officials, We Mean.
We’re likely to hear a lot about cutting the deficit in tonight’s debate, but do the candidates really understand the hard truths they are about to face when it comes to reducing federal spending?
Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack understands. He understands all too well the pain that will be caused by looming cuts to his department, lamenting that:
“October 1st is the start of a new fiscal year, but it also is the end of many of the programs authorized under the 2008 farm bill.”
What programs, you ask? Programs that touch people’s lives. Programs that provide people the quiet dignity and opportunity to share in the bounty of our nation that is their right as citizens.
Programs that finance appearances by the Alabama Watermelon Queen:
“Partner with the Alabama Watermelon Association, Inc. (AWA) to promote the consumption of Alabama’s watermelon through appearances of the Alabama Watermelon Queen at various events and location.”
These programs are part of the 100% essential Agricultural Marketing Service’s Fruit and Vegetable Programs, Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (pdf).
But it’s not all about watermelon queens. Secretary Vilsack knows we are running unsustainable deficits and has cut all the fat out of his programs leaving only the bone. Such as:
“Explore and develop markets for vegetables that are popular in Hispanic culture but are not available locally for the minority populations in Houston and Henry counties in southeast Alabama.”
For the record, if you don’t think this is an essential expenditure, then you’re a racist.
“Partner with Jeff Smeenk to determine the optimum rhubarb for a juicing product and present the project results to other specialty crop producers in Alaska.”
Look, if we don’t do it, the Russians will.
Also, you should never pass up an opportunity to say "Jeff Smeenk."
“Partner with the Arizona Farm Bureau in collaboration with Arizona fruit and vegetable farmers to educate and inform consumers about the nutritious nature of Arizona’s top specialty crops by creating and disseminating a video series about Arizona’s ‘Top Ten’ specialty crops.”
You just heard about the next YouTube viral sensation before everyone else.
“Partner with the California Olive Oil Council to expand opportunities for California olive oil by executing a marketing campaign that focuses on two key high-end food markets: California and the region between the District of Columbia and New York City.”
You might wonder why you’re paying to help market expensive olive oil to affluent coastal residents.
Shut up, that’s why.
There are also a number of programs to help strawberry growers:
“Enhance the managerial skills and competitiveness of Virginia strawberry growers.”
“Partner with the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System to develop a producer-led strawberry sustainability assessment program.”
“Partner with the University of Minnesota to provide information to Minnesota strawberry growers on new production methods using low tunnels.”
“Partner with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln to conduct a replicated experiment with four different strawberry cultivars including cultivars specifically developed for the short day photoperiods.”
“Partner with the North Carolina Strawberry Association to implement a two pronged campaign that will focus efforts to market the nutritional benefits of strawberries.”
Sadly, it will all be for naught as they are also proving funding to:
“...Position the Florida strawberry industry with a dominant quality advantage in the marketplace.”
Boy, are those other guys going to be ticked off.
“Partner with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative to develop and deliver resources to train a minimum of industry stakeholders in methods for achieving high quality cut flower production.”
Do you have any idea what this country loses each year in low-quality cut flower production? We don’t either, but we bet it’s a lot.
“Partner with the California Avocado Society to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of California avocado producers through the creation of an agricultural outreach program that provides technical education for critical job skills.”
Not many people realize this, but avocado jobs are the 137,865th fastest growing occupation in the country.
“Cooperate with the Oregon State Department of Agriculture to increase awareness of Northwest fresh and processed specialty crop products and build trade relationships between buyers and sellers—targeting importers, wholesalers, and retailers—in order to increase sales in three market areas in Southeast Asia.”
What about simply letting private businesses take on the task of marketing their own products and building trade relationships between buyers and sellers?
What are you? Some kind of extreme right-wing free-market absolutist?!
“Partner with the Arizona Nursery Association to expand the successful Plant Something promotion with the goal of increasing the sale and use of Arizona grown landscape plants and trees and to develop the campaign into a national nursery campaign.”
You know what, the “Plant something” program kind of sums up the general philosophical approach the Agriculture Department takes on handing out these grants, so we’ll just wrap it up here. Just keep in mind that:
“Since 2006, the program administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has awarded $240 million.”
That’s not something we had to dig up through a FOIA request.
October 02, 2012
He Makes Money The Old Fashioned Way. He Prints it.Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke used a presentation he had been scheduled to give to the Economic Club of Indiana as a platform to make a vigorous defense of his latest plans to engage in quantitative easing via the printing press.
As our readers are well aware, monetary policy and macroeconomics are very complex subjects, so we thought we’d go through the highlights of his speech to help you better understand it:
“Since 2008, we've used… less-traditional monetary policy tools to bring down longer-term rates. The first of these less-traditional tools involves the Fed purchasing longer-term securities on the open market--principally Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities…”
Some tools are less traditional for a reason. Like when Alexander P. Broughton, a 20-year-old University of Tennessee student, used a “less traditional tool” to get drunk. (You probably don’t want to click on that.)
“The securities that the Fed purchases in the conduct of monetary policy are held in our portfolio and earn interest. The great bulk of these interest earnings is sent to the Treasury, thereby helping reduce the government deficit. In the past three years, the Fed remitted $200 billion to the federal government.”
If you’re wondering why, if we can reduce the deficit by purchasing Treasury bills with fake money and turning the fake interest payments back in to Treasury, why don’t we just have the Fed purchase all the treasury bills, well, good news!
“I sometimes hear the complaint that the Federal Reserve is enabling bad fiscal policy by keeping interest rates very low and thereby making it cheaper for the federal government to borrow. I find this argument unpersuasive. The responsibility for fiscal policy lies squarely with the Administration and the Congress.”
Exactly. It would be like if someone blamed you for giving whiskey and car keys to a teenager. The responsibility for not plowing into a crowd of young schoolchildren at a bus stop lies squarely with the teenager, not with you.
And keep in mind, the Fed’s actions are in no way political. In fact, in response to the suggestion that the Fed should stop interfering so aggressively in the markets and allow rates to rise, Mr. Bernanke said:
“Using monetary policy to try to influence the political debate on the budget would be highly inappropriate.”
Exactly. Were the Fed to cease intervening in markets and allow interest rates to float at normal levels so that prices could adjust and markets could go through the painful but efficient process of healing as market-clearing prices are established, it would clearly “influence the political debate” and be “highly inappropriate.”
In contrast, actively forcing on the markets historically unprecedented low interest rates and running the printing presses so as to purchase government bonds with the express purpose of inflating financial asset prices just one month before a presidential election regardless of the long-term consequences is 100% non-partisan straightforward policy making.
That is how you can tell Ben Bernanke is serious about maintaining the credibility of the Fed.
“[An important question] is whether the Federal Reserve's monetary policy will lead to higher inflation down the road. In response, I will start by pointing out that the Federal Reserve's price stability record is excellent, and we are fully committed to maintaining it.”
FUN FACT: The dollar has lost over 95% of its value since the creation of the Federal Reserve.
“With monetary policy being so accommodative now, though, it is not unreasonable to ask whether we are sowing the seeds of future inflation. A related question I sometimes hear--which bears also on the relationship between monetary and fiscal policy, is this: By buying securities, are you "monetizing the debt"--printing money for the government to use--and will that inevitably lead to higher inflation? No, that's not what is happening, and that will not happen.”
We don’t know about you, but we sure feel a lot better.
“Monetizing the debt means using money creation as a permanent source of financing for government spending.”
You see, “monetizing the debt” is when you print money forever, whereas Fed policy is to print money until the “appropriate time.”
And they won’t tell us when that appropriate time will be, only that it will depend on how much the economy strengthens.
And they won’t tell us how much the economy needs to strengthen first for them to stop printing money.
And even then, they will still continue to print money.
“The Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens.”
But other than that, it’s absolutely not “monetizing the debt.”
That would just be wrong.