The Martian Professor

by Stephen Spruiell

Citizens Against Government Waste has produced a new ad that is quickly becoming a the talk of the political blogosphere. Let me see if I can crudely summarize the reactions I’ve read so far:

From the left: Great production values, but the ad gets the facts wrong: It envisions a future in which China has taken over and America has collapsed because of the latter’s addiction to fiscal stimulus and government intervention in the economy. In fact, China’s fiscal stimulus was much bigger than America’s, and the Chinese government intervenes much more aggressively in its economy. Logically, the point of this ad is that America’s government should spend and intervene more aggressively if it wants to come out on top.

From the right: Yep, pretty much dead on. If we keep borrowing and spending, we can look forward to a life of enfiefed misery at the hands of our new Chinese overlords. 

Allow me to offer a third view: Neither the Chinese government nor our own is committed to the right policies, and both are headed for the dustbin if those policies don’t change. Overspending and economic micromanagement are fatal — that’s the fundamental truth that the ad gets right. China is an economy built on an unsustainable addiction to government-supported exports sitting atop a powder keg of bubblicious dollar-denominated assets. America is a crazed debtor nation behind on its McMansion payments. The whole thing is a co-dependent mess. The thing about the endgame is that there are no victors, but an ad starring Martians would have been just laughed out of the public conversation. 

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