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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review January 24, 2008 / 17 Shevat 5768

Ain't no free lunch

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Politicians left and right are jumping on the "stimulus" bandwagon, and several commentators have recalled Richard Nixon's famous 1971 remark, "We're all Keynesians now." The famed British economist John Maynard Keynes died in 1946, so what he would have thought of Nixon's economics must forever remain a mystery. But if "Keynesian" is shorthand for believing that governments can boost employment and keep the economy humming by stimulating demand through deficit spending, then the political landscape today is indeed awash with latter-day Keynesians.


Which makes this a good time to recall an observation associated with another famed economist, the late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."


With the economy weakening, home and stock values sinking, and recession fears growing, pols of every stripe have been hustling to put a "stimulus" plan on the table. The Bush administration is calling for temporary tax relief worth about $140 billion, reportedly in the form of tax-rebate checks of up to $800 per taxpayer. Several of the candidates vying to succeed George Bush are weighing in with giveaways of their own. Barack Obama, for example, wants to send $250 checks to low- and middle-income earners and to seniors on Social Security, followed by a second round of $250 checks if the first doesn't do the trick. Hillary Clinton, who on Monday dismissed Bush's package as "too little too late," proposes to spend $40 billion on rebate checks and another $70 billion on new housing, energy, and unemployment benefits.


The idea behind these plans is to get money into the hands of consumers who will spend it quickly, thereby revving up demand and "stimulating" the economy back to good health. There's just one problem: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.


Sure, if you get an $800 kiss in the mail from Uncle Sam, you're likely to spend it on something — maybe even something you might otherwise have taken a pass on: kitchen cabinets from Home Depot, say, or a trip with the kids to SeaWorld, or a donation to Special Olympics. That $800 will continue to circulate in the economy as each recipient spends it on something else, each time adding another $800 worth of economic activity to the nation's GDP.


But where did that $800 come from in the first place? Does the federal government, like Scrooge McDuck, have great warehouses filled with surplus money it can spread around when recession clouds appear on the horizon? Of course not. Washington already spends more money than it has; just three months into the new fiscal year, the budget deficit is already up to $107 billion. And since no one is proposing to pay for a stimulus package by curtailing other spending, the only way Uncle Sam is going to come up with your $800 is to borrow it.


In other words, before any money can be injected *into* the economy by means of rebate checks or other benefits, it must first be extracted *from* the economy by means of borrowing (or taxation). That $800 you spend at Home Depot or SeaWorld is $800 not available to the bond buyer who lent Uncle Sam the money for your rebate check. Washington cannot jump-start the US economy by taking money from Jane and giving it to Joan any more than I can boost my own prosperity by withdrawing money from a downtown ATM and depositing it in an uptown ATM. There's no free lunch.


One talking point most of the would-be stimulators seem to agree on is that any plan to goose the economy must be short-lived. It "must be temporary and take effect right away," Bush said on Friday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi likewise called for "a solution that is timely, targeted, and temporary." A Google News search yields thousands of stories containing the words "stimulus," "economy," and "temporary."


But if Washington really has the power to restore vim and verve to the nation's economy by simply moving money around, why not do so all the time? Why should there ever be an economic slowdown if government spending can prevent it?


Here's why: Because the business cycle hasn't been repealed. Because booms are still followed by busts. Because politicians and policymakers cannot make a $14 trillion economy jump through hoops on demand — especially not by going even more deeply into debt.


The fuel of economic growth is the creation of new wealth, not the redistribution of existing wealth. Rebating some of last year's taxes or expanding welfare-like benefits won't encourage anyone to be more productive. Permanently lowering tax rates — letting Americans keep more of the money they earn, this year and every year — will.


True, tax cuts instead of tax rebates would mean no kiss in the mail from Washington. And needless to say, most politicians would rather treat you to a free lunch than stimulate you to work, invest, and take more risks. Just remember one thing about that free lunch: There ain't no such thing.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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