A Billion Here, a Billion There …

Money vortex GettyImages-495918413

Amidst all these temporary war powers, rules, regulations, commands, restrictions, bailouts, and stimulus packages, it is wise to remember the words of Milton Friedman: “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” (And Friedman knew from personal experience.)

And it also seems that “We are all Keynesians now.” I remember when a $1 billion was a lot of money. Now people are tossing billions around like it was chump change—with no regard to spending, costs, inflation, budgets (balanced or otherwise), or the national debt. We’re now up to a $1 trillion “stimulus” package.

I vividly remember being at the Libertarian Party’s national headquarters when I was writing my book, Earth’s Resources: Private Ownership vs. Public Waste. One morning, when we all gathered around the coffee table and the newspapers, we see the huge bold headline of that morning’s Washington Post, which read: “Carter releases ‘lean and tight’ $500 billion 1979 federal budget.” We all laughed at $500 billion being “lean and tight.”

That was for the entire federal government—everything. Now we are about to spend $1 trillion for one stimulus package—and counting …

I remember one of Murray Rothbard’s favorite cartoons. It showed a group of counterfeiters standing in a barren room with a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling and all the blinds drawn. A printing press was spilling piles of currency into a long row of bushel baskets. And the capo said: “Consumer spending is about to get a big shot in the arm.”

Ludwig von Mises always cautioned in his lectures that in order to have a sound monetary system it was necessary to do far more than simply stamp “In God We Trust” on all the money.

Thank goodness we don’t get all the government we pay for.