Friday, July 8, 2011

How to Fool Yourself By Lying to Yourself

The US government is unhappy with its deficits. Luckily clever politicians have figured out a way to reduce the deficit. They will "redefine" the cost of living so that it doesn't grow as fast, therefore the government can save money by not paying as much in cost of living adjustments. Brilliant! From a post by Paul Brodsky on The Big Picture blog:
Speaking of cynical gimmicks, Dow Jones reported last month that congressional aides for Democrats and Republicans were close to an agreement that would save up to $220 billion over the next decade by “changing how the Consumer Price Index is calculated”. (It is difficult to know where to begin with this one.)

First, if there was ever any question in serious economists’ or investors’ minds about whether the CPI is accurately calculated presently, then this news should completely dispel any doubt. It should be obvious to all that calculations ostensibly produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are corrupted by political maneuvering and budget negotiations and that its output is economically worthless. Looking forward, it is inconceivable that serious observers expect the CPI to be an honest and objective indicator of “inflation”.
I've got an even better suggestion for US politicians. If you want a really painless way to make your $14.5 trillion debt "go away", then pass legislation that defines "dollar indebtedness" as "missing chicken feathers" and immediately confiscate all the chicken coops in America. You can quickly round up $14.5 billion by plucking all those chickens and building a pile of $14.5 billion... I mean 14.5 billion chicken feathers. Problem solved!

Picturing the US Public Debt after Congress Redefines the Terms of "Indebtedness"

Now, if government officials tell the legislators that it will be too onerous to round up chickens and defeather them, the legislators merely have to redefine the US dollar to be monopoly money and run the printing presses at Hasbro. I guarantee you that is a painless way to "retire" the debt.

The Greeks are famous for their cleverness (e.g. the Trojan Horse). I'm shocked to realize that modern Greek politicians are too timorous to take advantage of this bold political maneuver that US legislators so proudly advocate.

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