Correcting the Record

Editor, The Wall Street Journal 200 Liberty Street New York, NY 10281 To the Editor: Brian Riedl is correct: economic-stimulus packages are economic snake oil (" Why Spending Stimulus Plans Fail," Nov. 14). Because money given by government to Jones MUST be taken from Smith, Jones's extra spending is offset by Smith's reduced spending. The great 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat explained the matter brilliantly in his essay "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen:" "In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of... continue reading
Editor, The Baltimore Sun Dear Editor: Peter Morici alleges that Americans have engaged in "excessive borrowing to finance a huge trade deficit" ("First order of business," Nov. 12). This allegation reflects misunderstanding. First, a higher trade deficit does not necessarily mean higher borrowing. If Mr. Morici pays $25,000 cash for a new Camry and Toyota then squirrels those dollars away in a safe, the U.S. trade deficit rises by $25,000 but Americans' debt hasn't risen by a dime as a result. Second, the largest portion of the U.S. trade deficit that today BECOMES debt consists of loans by foreigners to... continue reading
Editor, The New York Times 229 West 43rd St. New York, NY 10036 To the Editor: One of your front-page headlines today reads "Lobbyists Swarm the Treasury for a Helping of the Bailout Pie" (Nov. 12). This fact must be told, but it's regrettable that it is news. Suppose a thief disguised as humanitarian shows up in Times Square and announces that he's got billions of dollars to give to people who "need" it. Surely no one would be surprised when a throng of "needy" worthies - a throng larger than that venue sees on New Year's Eve - immediately... continue reading
Editor, The Wonk Room Dear Editor: Regarding your most recent post boasting the faux-reasonable title "If It Happens, The Auto Industry Bailout Needs To Be Done Right" (Nov. 10): Piffle. While it's true that some ways of bailing out this industry would be less harmful than other ways, there is absolutely no "right" way to do it. To advise government to do the auto industry bailout "right" makes as much sense as advising a burglar to burgle the neighborhood houses "right." Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and... continue reading
Editor, The Wall Street Journal 200 Liberty Street New York, NY 10281 To the Editor: Regarding "Nationalizing Detroit" (Nov. 10): How ironic is it that the gaggle of politicians now ascendant in Washington croak especially loudly about their 'courage' in standing up to corporate interests while they seek to force taxpayers to hand over $50 billion to private corporations? And how odd is their belief that the same businesses that these politicians are sure don't respond negatively to being taxed will respond positively to being subsidized? Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics... continue reading
Editor, Washington Post 1150 15th St., NW Washington, DC 20071 Dear Editor: AIG Senior Vice President Nicholas Ashooh isn't afraid of special pleading. He writes: "It's hard to understand why anyone would suggest that it would have been better for American International Group (AIG) to file for bankruptcy court protection than to receive help from the Federal Reserve. Bankruptcy filings almost always result in no return to shareholders because creditors get paid first. And a bankruptcy filing for a financial services company such as AIG would have destroyed, not preserved, value for our shareholders." ( Letters, Nov. 9). Indeed so... continue reading
Dear Editor: Commenting on the recent election of Barack Obama to the presidency, Ron Smith wisely counsels: "Don't expect much from next Great Man" (Nov. 8). Mr. Smith's wisdom causes me to reflect that America is divided into two groups of persons: those who believe that what goes on in Washington is largely a serious quest by serious people to tackle serious problems seriously, and those who understand that what goes on in Washington is largely theater scripted so that the actors and actresses appear at first glance to be 'public servants' but in fact care for nothing nearly as... continue reading
To the Editor: Advocating universal health care, Steven Safyer, M.D., hopes that "the next administration will see the wisdom of acting — not just talking — so Americans get the care they deserve." (Letters, Nov. 6) What evidence is there that Americans do not now "get the care they deserve"? Material deserts are earned, not given by nature. In the case of health care, the fact that even POOR Americans consume other things so abundantly casts doubt on the supposition that this land is crowded with people who are denied health care that they deserve. Consider, for example, that today... continue reading
Dear Editor: Regarding " Obama wins presidency" (November 5): To all persons who understand that freer markets bring greater prosperity, I offer a reason to applaud Obama's defeat of McCain. A President McCain would have followed Bush's script: singing paeans to free markets while simultaneously meddling and spending in harmful ways. Nevertheless - with popular attention on the song rather than on the substance - the problems caused by these intrusions would have been blamed on "free market fundamentalism" or even laissez-faire capitalism. At least President Obama's destructive policies will not unjustly give capitalism a bad name. Sincerely, Donald J... continue reading
To the Editor: Andrew Wilson is right: the New Deal did not end the Great Depression (" Five Myths About the Great Depression," November 4). No less an authority than FDR's Treasury secretary and close friend, Henry Morganthau, conceded this fact to Congressional Democrats in May 1939: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong ... somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job... continue reading