Friday, October 14, 2011

FLG's Time Horizons Theory: David Frum Edition

Heard this on Marketplace last night:
RYSSDAL: So why this move? Why is this no longer a good fit for you?

FRUM: Well, we’ve been doing a point/counter-point here between me and Bob Reich for a couple of years. And it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve certainly learned a lot from it. But I think that there’s a kind of expectation that when you do it that you represent the broad point of view of your half of the political spectrum. And although I consider myself a conservative and a Republican, and I think that the right-hand side of the spectrum has the better answers for the long-term growth of economy — low taxes, restrained government, less regulation — it’s pretty clear that facing the immediate crisis — very intense crisis — I’m just not representing the view of most people who call themselves Republicans and conservatives these days.

RYSSDAL: Let me quote you back to yourself in a post that you made on FrumForum not too long ago. You say: “Under the pressure of the current crisis — intoxicated by anti-Obama feelings and incited by talk radio and Fox — Republicans have staked out an extreme position on the role of government.” That’s where we are in this discussion, right?

FRUM: It’s not just the role of government though. We have got a sick patient — the American economy. And we can see that the patient in the next bed — the European economy — he’s looking even sicker and there’s a real risk of contagion. And what I think we have to do at a moment like this: Have a very, very open creation of money and credit. This is not a moment for government to be cutting back. Here’s where Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes agreed. They didn’t necessarily agree about why to do this medicine, but as to what the medicine was, they did broadly agree. But it’s not the medicine that’s being prescribed now.

Again, FLG's time horizon theory says that conservatives value the future relatively more than than liberals. FLG has always stated this is a positive, not a normative theory because reasonable people can disagree on how much to value the future, the long run.

Add to this FLG's other theory that we need to think of the government like the Marine Corps. If it's about getting something done by mobilizing a lot of resources over a relatively short time frame and efficiency isn't the primary concern, then government might be the best answer. In this light, what Frum is saying makes perfect sense. The economy has been terrible, and in hindsight it was actually worse than we've thought it was at the time. Many conservatives appear, at least to FLG and from his comments to Frum also, constitutionally incapable of recognizing that the long run might not be the best approach given the consequences of the current crisis. One doesn't typically debate which design for a replacement dam would be best when the flood waters from the current damn are still swamping the countryside.


The Ancient said...

Maybe David should take a sleeping bag down to Zuccotti Square and see if they'll admit him to Krugman's Army.

(In fairness, it's worth pointing out that Greg Mankiw seems to think similar things.)

Anonymous said...

"Owners, however, have higher pain thresholds because they have longer time horizons: They do not have short careers; they do have deep pockets."

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