A Confession: I Took One Class of Economics And Barely Passed. I Wonder How Senator Markey Did At the Same College

It is true. I still can see the Jesuit priest who taught the class. Even though he had closely shaven, his face showed the outline of a very heavy black beard. He seemed quite severe. It was a required course. I recall learning one thing – it was something about supply and demand. If the supply went up the prices went down; if the demand went up the prices went up.

How I regret the folly of my youth that rather than buckling down I put myself on cruise control hoping to learn just enough to get by the examinations. I barely did. I was glad to go on to other things that would not challenge my brain too much.

Therefore when it comes to economics I am an ignoramus. That I regret. Especially do I regret it after reading Senator Edward Markey’s proposal. He wants the government to “direct cash payment of $2,000 each month to individuals with an income below $120,000 until three months after the coronavirus pandemic ends, as well as provide $2,000 for up to three dependents per family, regardless of age.”  This would continue until three months after the pandemic goes away which the last time I looked would be when the vaccine was developed.  Of course, there is no guarantee a vaccine will be developed which means everyone may receive that amount of money until the cows come home.

My first thought was Markey is running for reelection so promising goodies is probably a way to get votes. Then I though it would cost quite a bit to do that.  Markey doesn’t seem to think so suggesting it would only cost around 600 billion a month or 7.2 trillion a year.  Being financially illiterate I thought I would find out what is the present U.S. budget. I read that the current “ U.S. government spending is $4.746 trillion.” I then recalled we have a deficit so I wanted to see what that is especially knowing we spent two trillion plus dollars last month, and of that amount we have no idea where at least one half trillion went since our government will not tell us.

I was surprised to find there’s two items to consider. There’s a budget deficit which for 2020 is projected to be 1.103 trillion dollars and the national debt which is over 26 trillion dollars. Assuming Markey’s proposal goes through and the budget deficit remains we will be increasing the national debt by almost one-third.

Here though is what I discovered perusing these figures. President George W. Bush assumed office and the debt stood at 5.72 trillion dollars. When he left it was 9.8 trillion. I then checked President Obama. It is reported it was 10.26 trillion when he was sworn in. (Somehow George left 9.8 but Obama was handed 10.26 – it looks like we misplaced around a half trillion dollars.)  When Obama left it was 19.9 trillion. Then as I dig into the figures I just get more confused.

But what I began to realize is that those people who earn a living as an economist are also greatly confused. Some say worry, some repeat Alfred Newman’s mantra, “What me worry?” 

Here’s what I don’t get. If we can spin out as much money as we like why don’t we have universal health insurance for everyone? Some even project it would cost less than we now pay. I’d suggest it would not cost more than a trillion or two so why not go for it.

Next I hear that the government if it needs money can just print it out. If you have managed to save some money over the years and keep it in savings accounts are you making a mistake. It seems to me that the more money that is printed out means the value of your savings is actually going down. Do we conclude saving money is for the fools?

I was thinking of Germany in the 1930s where a woman carried a basket full of money to buy a loaf of bread. She stopped at the end of the bread line. She put the basket down aside her. She was so absorbed in her thoughts she did not notice the thief came up and snatched her basket but not before dumping all the money that was in it on the ground. Will baskets be worth more than all the money that can be stuffed in them? Should we go out an buy baskets?

Finally, I understanding making sure everyone can stay in their house and have sufficient food to eat during these troubles. But there are many among us who can do that without government aid. Why should we getting handouts? Isn’t there a way to ensure rents or mortgages are paid for those who cannot do it and sufficient money can be given out for food and necessities?

And speaking of money having little value, assuming a lot of people are making $96,000 to $120,000 a year through handouts, how are you ever going to get them to go back to a job paying $20.00 or less an hour? I tell you I am totally confused.



14 thoughts on “A Confession: I Took One Class of Economics And Barely Passed. I Wonder How Senator Markey Did At the Same College

  1. They didn’t have economics at Southie High—–they use to give us 3 hours of homework every year —we would get in on the last day of classes.

    My two sons attended B. C. High , Boston College and Law school in N. Y.—-the other son attended Milton Academy and Harvard ( Majored in Economics )—–why do I mention their schools ? Because the British wouldn’t allow my grand-parents to attend school and therefore couldn’t read or write ! I asked my beloved Mother how far she went in school and in her comfortable manner she said with a smile long’ enough to have you .”

  2. Matt, one maxim I remember-in a free choice market, “Good Money Drives Out Bad”. This was glaringly apparent when, during “Glastnost” Russians were given a few dollars in acceptable currency, and allowed to go to West Berlin. Well, the women took the real money and went shopping. The men went looking for hookers with their zylots. The hookers told the Ruskies to take their aluminum money and get back to Russia. A great lesson in practical economics.

      1. Wa-llahi! No takers on Gresham’s Law? “Bad money always pushes out good.” C’mon econ geniuses show your stuff.

  3. You never mention China in relation to covid 19. You were asked to compare Reagan and Carter but you never mention Carter. Either Carter’s program worked or it didn’t and Reagan’s program did or did not. If you remember your history correctly all the liberal Democrats in the House ( About 200 of them) opposed the Reagan tax cuts and his military buildup. Reagan persuaded about 30 Southern Democrats, not liberals to go with him. Reagan reversed the military decline of Nixon, Ford and Carter. He inherited a hollowed out force and restored it to full strength. Reagan’s approach worked. The Democrats liberal efforts failed just as the economic plan of East Germany and North Korea have. Government control and central planning produce scarcity, hardship and suffering. Trump inherited a hollowed out force from Obama and Bush. Their awful regime change wars dissipated America’s power.. Trump copied Reagan. 2. Carter and Obama were very weak presidents. Obama publicly announced the closing of GITMO, black sites and ending enhanced interrogation. He was universally acclaimed for those acts and won the Nobel Peace prize. Privately he accelerated the targeted killing program and drone strikes resulting in 3500 deaths. What a fraud. See Annie Jacobson’s book. He had to back down to the Cambridge Police. Putin saw he was weak and seized Crimea. Carter was weak the Mullars in Iran saw that and seized the hostages. They were afraid of Reagan and released them as he was sworn in.

  4. Today’s news from the Boston Herald: ED MARKEY SLAMMED FOR DISRESPECTING THE FLAG . . . a picture shows Markey on his porch with the American Flag, unfolded, laying on the porch floor behind him. https://www.bostonherald.com/2020/06/15/markey-team-downplays-flag-flap/

    They both may be liberals, but JOE KENNEDY is still young enough and bright enough to mature in office, while Ed, a contemporary, is fading in his senior citizen years and too entrenched in hit thinking and too set in his ways and belongs were we see him: sitting on his porch in his rocker, retired.

    1. And, on point with the discussion of politicians, HERE IS ONE OF MY GREATEST WORKS OF ART: A VERSE/POEM, titled POKING FUN, which thousands worldwide will have hailed by now and which many astute critics worldwide will have pronounced “a modern day, literary classic, akin to those pithy earthy poetic masterpieces of the great Irish poet from Sligo (n.b. Sligo is Mike Pence’s grandparents county, too)William Butler Yeats, “The Drinking Song” and the “Love Song”:

      “POKING FUN, verse in reverse, poetry without rhyme:

      “P.S. Poking Fun at Political Pundits: Dear Nancy “the Mad-Ripper” Pelosi: Botox has not been invented for the Brain, yet. Till then, retire to an easy chair, a rocker on your back porch, sip tea, watch the sea, nap. You are mucking up the new world order dawning down today with your old-fashioned notions, theatrical hysterics and passe political posturings. Stop gumming up the wheels of progress. Signed, Billy C, just another Savin Hill Billy.

      “P.P.S. Grandma Moses was still vibrantly contributing to the world of art into her late nineties. At 81, Benjamin Zander is still vibrantly leading the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.
      Not so, Nancy, who, like Joe, lost it, long ago.

      P.P.P.S. I wish we all live healthy, happy, and wise lives to a ripe old age, like say 101, as Grandma Moses blessedly did.”

      1. I considered the subtitle: “Perverse Verse in Reverse: Poetry without Rhyme or Reason.”
        I am still considering it.

  5. That’s what happens when you join forces with AOC ,pander to the Green New Deal
    crowd,and become a certified loon only to get re-elected.He also has to beat his
    opponent to the punch as to who can be knighted by the left for proposing programs
    that will bankrupt the country. What a choice.

    1. Touche! just like a left hook from an O’Shea.

      The O’Shea brothers of Sagamore Street in Savin Hill were all golden glove boxing champions Maughn, Paul and Billy O’Shea, Paul was an Army boxing champion, too (all welterweights, as I recall) and their younger brother Justin “Jud” O’Shea, was as tough as all three older brothers. Danny, the youngest, was into track then long-distance running. I actually witnessed Jud O’Shea outside Connors Tavern knocking down-and-out with one punch Rema “Big John” Barunus, our biggest guy at 6’4″, 220 pounds and one of our top fighters (along with Bob Mancini, Billy Jenkins, Billy Salter, and surprisingly Jimmy O’Leary who actually knocked down Bobby Mancini in a backyard boxing match, which I witnessed, too.

      Paul’s comments are “right on”, brother.

  6. Well, I esteemed JFK, Reagan and now esteem Trump.

    It’s always easy to say you can draw a straight line from the allegedly corrupt Harding’s Tea Pot Dome scandal through Calvin Coolidge’s Fiscally Sound policies to Herbert Hoover’s policies, and blame all three for the Great Depression.

    The problem with that reasoning is the Great Depression, which actually started around 1931, two years after the great stock market crash, was WORLD WIDE DEPRESSION, like the WORLD WIDE PANDEMIC, that cannot be laid at the foot of President Trump. In fact, most scientists, including Doctor’s Fauci, Dr. Birx and Dr. Adams, experts in infectious diseases and public health, have CREDITED President Trump for acting swiftly and early in limiting immigration from China, declaring a National Public Health Emergence in January 2020, also, and establishing a Covid Task Force under V.P. Mike Pence, which task forces was stacked with scientists.

    I took my first economic course in graduate school (public health) and another later in law school (while studying Environmental Law). One professor, simplifying things, asked: If you owned an island and grew flowers, and purple flowers cost one dollar a bushel and yellow flowers cost two dollars a bushel, what colored flower would you grow more of? I raised my hand and answered, “I would grow more of the flowers that looked better from my window; that presented the most pleasant view.”

    That’s why I have never made any money because I never made decisions (rarely) on the basis of money. I chose what pleased me, what interested me, and generally had little interest in costs, cash or profits. I painted houses and chopped down trees because I liked working hard and working outdoors and being independent. I pursued studies because they interested me. Money was never a motive. That’s why relatively speaking I do not have much cash.

    But here too, on the economic issue, I learned a lot because I always loved to read and the economic reading that impressed me the most were the words of Walter Williams, Milton Friedman, economists, and social scientists like Thomas Sowell, a philosopher in his own right, too (read Cosmic Justice and Ethnic America)and political scientists like Bill Buckley, a true intellect, and from the fields of politics and journalism, like Pat Buchanan.

    From my limited studies and extensive reading, I conclude that the tax-limiting, limited government, peace through strength approaches of Presidents John F. Kenney, Ronald Reagan, (Ronald Wilson Reagan; his mother was a Wilson) and Donald J. Trump . . .are the soundest, safest approaches. Limited government, lower taxes, pro-life, pro-individual, pro-businesses, small and big, pro-freedom of speech, expression, association, and freedom of religion; pro-God, Country, Family, pro-Duty, Honor, Country as the Cadets pledge, and pro-honesty and pro-transparency. God bless America, and the Patriots who know and respect its history and traditions, and I will concede many good liberals as well as almost all good conservatives and moderates, adhere to these principles.

    It is the stone-throwing, gloom and doom, anti-American, historical revisionistic, disinformation propagandists within the LEFTIST wing of the liberals that “““““““““““who are the enemy of the American people, and many of these leftists are in the main stream media and in academia and some smaller number are office holders in state and federal government.

  7. A good comparison on the economic front is between Carter and Reagan. Carter ran against Ford and denounced him for creating a misery index of 13%.( unemployment plus inflation) Carter increased it to 20%. We had stagflation plus energy shortages. The Soviets in the 50s invaded Hungary. In the 60s the Checks. In the 70s they invaded Afghanistan. Carter said the planet would run out of oil in twenty years. The energy crisis was the moral equivalent of war. Reagan beat Carter in 1980. He cut taxes and rebuilt our military. He confronted the Evil Empire all across the globe. While Kennedy, Tsongas and Dukakis were trying to undermine the Gipper he created an economic boom and vanquished the Soviets. He won the cold war with no help from the liberals and fellow travelers.. He reduced inflation and unemployment to single digits. He cut the top tax rate from 70% to 28%..Revenues to the Federal government went from 400 billion to 800 billion during his tenure.America was much better off under Reagan than Carter. When Coolidge cut the top tax rate to 25% he produced the roaring 20s. Reagan copied Coolidge and JFK’s tax policy to the great benefit of the nation. 2. Trump’s program of energy independence. tax cuts, deregulation, better trade deals and military buildup produced a thriving economy. He copied much of Reagan and Coolidge. Peace through strength. economic and military.

    1. NC:

      Reagan won the “Cold War with no help from liberals or fellow travelers.” You don’t suppose the House of Representatives composed of Democrats had anything to do with it? You don’t suppose none of the prior presidents had anything to do with it. Did Reagan ignore them. Wasn’t it Reagan that President Reagan increased the national debt by 186%. Obama increased it by 74%. What about the Iran Contra affair and the gun running deals with Iran. What about Reaganomics which added $1.86 trillion to the national debt. Was Reagan the last president before Trump? Coolidge did a great job but what was that thing called the Great Depression? Too bad the government didn’t have that tax money to cut down on the unemployment lines.

      2. Trump inherited a thriving economy. He continued what Obama put in place after the disasters of the George W. Bush era. A lot of good the military build up does when we abandon our allies and bring our forces home. Trump has alienated our allies and befriended our enemies. He has emboldened North Korea by his nonsense. China is stronger than ever under Trump’s need to get his daughter some patterns in that country. His trade deals are really just touch ups on old ones. He has put us in the position where treaties long in the making regarding nuclear weapons have been discarded. We have become much weaker under him. He has now set the nation on a course toward 200,000 deaths from Covid-19 because he had no idea how to lead a nation. You don’t lead by running away. He is everything Reagan was not.

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