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Archive for February 4th, 2009

Having praised Obama yesterday, I think it is all the more important to point out that so far, there are no signs he has reversed the policy of raiding medical marijuana units in states like California (where medical marijuana is legal).

As Jacob Sullum puts it:

“I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” Obama told the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune last March. How many more raids will it take before that counts as a lie?

Obama categorically said on the campaign trail — to the Tribune as well as to other questioners — that he would end these raids (the raids themselves are possible because of  a ridiculous state-federal law incompatibility on this issue). For many libertarian leaning people, that statement of Obama’s was one of the primary reasons they supported him. 

Yes, he deserves some slack. It takes a little while to change policy, and he has been in power for just a few weeks. He has  had a lot on his plate, with the economic crisis and appointment troubles, and it is understandable if he hasn’t been able to deal with this matter yet.

So I am going to give him three months. If these raids continue beyond that, I’ll call him out for what he will then have proved to be — a liar with ruined lives on his hands.

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• Tom Daschle — big government healthcare lord with plenty of tax issues  — is out. Obama admits he screwed up. Refreshing.

• He might actually kill the terrible protectionist clause from the stimulus. I certainly did not expect this. 

• He has selected an excellent nominee for the secretary of commerce post, it’s a Republican who once voted to abolish the position!

These are early days yet. However, so far, from a libertarian viewpoint, Obama has proved to be excellent in the areas Democrats are supposed to be good at (due process, civil rights of detainees) and if his appointments and attitudes are any indication, significantly better than Bush in the areas the Democrats are supposed to be bad at (economics). I would be interested in seeing what stance he takes though if the Dems start pressing more contentious legislation (card check, fairness doctrine).

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An interesting post from Robin Hanson on the stimulus bill. Here’s an excerpt (emphasis mine):

Wise taxpayers who get stimuli tax rebate checks should mostly save them, realizing that future taxes must rise to pay for those checks.  For similar reasons, wise taxpayers should also spend less upon hearing about government spending increases.  So with wise taxpayers it is not obvious that tax rebates or government spending increases would help much with the downturn. 

The consensus among macro-economists seems to be that people can in fact be fooled by such stimuli, but as Tyler indicates, it is not clear which policies most fool us.  In particular, the more public attention we give to the stimuli, the less they might work.  We might make people realize that they need to compensate via saving, and the more we scare folks into thinking we need huge stimuli, the more we might scare them away from normal economic activity levels.

So should we stop explaining macro-economics during this crisis, and stop saying how desperately we need stimuli?

Read the whole thing. Also, if you are really into it, head over to Marginal Revolution to follow the ongoing Cowen-Krugman argument on stimulus and spending.

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