Sunday, September 22, 2013

What, again? Debt ceiling again?? Really?? Come on. I don't have the patience to stress out about this right now.

For a thousand reasons, it’s been far too long since I sat down here to write.  It’s true that my day job has interfered, which will happen from time to time---too many deadlines and not enough time to meet them---and it’s also true that a variety of health issues, mine and others, have distracted me.  But the big reason is just that the last time I wrote I had huge math formatting problems, and I got hung up trying to resolve them, and the truth is that when you are in the habit of writing you write, and when you aren’t you don’t. 

Example random health problem:  a number of weeks ago, while cleaning out a garage, I dropped myself on my head from a significant height.  I was standing on a table putting something on a high shelf when the table more or less disintegrated under me.  I know that because I found it scattered in pieces all around me; I don’t remember the fall at all.

This event had a number of immediate effects.  It caused a substantial delay in the task I was doing, for one thing.   And it provided a good opportunity to exercise an opulence of verbal expression that is usually beyond my means.  And it enabled me to examine the inside of the Sibley Hospital emergency room, and to experience a CAT scan, and to enjoy the benefit of numerous stitches in my scalp.  For a while I thought it had caused a loss of about 30 IQ points too, but I’m pretty sure those were all still in there, they were just temporarily resistant to vigorous use.  (Even so I hadn’t disabled enough IQ points to believe in Ricardian equivalence.  I know, I checked.  I thought about it in the emergency room just to be sure, and it still seemed the height of absurdity even after a whack on the head.  Although IQ doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with it; some very smart people do believe in it, God knows how or why.)

But I think I did discover what happened to the IQ points in question, about two days later.  They were jarred loose and tossed randomly about, and soon started skittering around inside my head like marbles in a sailboat cockpit, say, in the cockpit of Sea Frog exiting the mouth of the Choptank into the bay on a long, bright, windy, wavy day.  Every time I tilted my head they all rolled over to the low side, whacking into everything in the way and making me dizzy.  It was disturbing.   And it kept me from writing for a while.

So I want to get back to this blog to begin to recreate the habit, but current events in economics seem a little heavy for the moment.  There’s plenty to say.  The House Republicans are once again threatening to shut down the government and render the Treasury insolvent by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, which would mean that the Treasury would no longer be able to pay for the government functions that Congress has already legislated.  Sequester is still in effect, a circumstance that caused most government employees to be furloughed for a number of days earlier this summer.  At the start of the furloughs I said (here) that federal employees seemed to be taking it all with good grace, but wondered what would happen if it continued “next year”.  Well, October is the start of a new federal budget year.  I think the federal workforce is getting more than a little tired of job chaos, of pay freezes, furloughs, and constant budget brinksmanship that puts their bill payments at risk.  Still, we’ll put that topic off for another day.

Instead of delving into economics, I’ll talk about making boats.  Or daydream about it.  It’s a topic, for once, that many of my friends can comment on, some with real knowledge far beyond my own.   With any luck they can talk me out of trying it.  But I have a reason for thinking about it.  I have a few odd ideas about sailboat gadgets that I’d like to try out, and some of them would require serious surgery on any existing hull, so it seems more efficient (and possibly cheaper) to just build my own.   I’ll stick to something I can do in my backyard, some easy variety of stitch and glue.  Or maybe staple and glue.  Nothing fancy.

I need something that will float and sail, but for economy (there’s that damned word again!!) it can’t be too much bigger than a dinghy---but to make it all worthwhile I want something more than just a simple dinghy.  I’m actually thinking of building a kind of adventure.  I want a sailing dinghy that I can put in the water at the Washington Sailing Marina and sail to Galesville or Annapolis. It would be a two-day trip down the Potomac, and then it’s nearly 70 miles from the mouth of the Potomac up the bay to Annapolis, which, in a boat that size, will probably be another two to three days.  That means I’ll need a dinghy that I can sleep in comfortably, probably using a tent over the boom for shelter.  I also need to have a small stove of some kind to cook with.  And a head.  In other words, I’ll need to build a cruising dinghy, if that’s not too weird a concept. 

I’ll get back to economics in another post or two.  Maybe I actually will talk about Ricardian equivalence again.  The last time I posted about it Nick Rowe chastised me in the comments for claiming that the concept depended on full employment, so I might try to explain why I think that’s true.  Why Ricardian equivalence, which seems to me to be a minor and fairly silly idea in the vast universe of economic models?  Because it seems to me to be a perfect embodiment of what has gone wrong and sour in macroeconomics since I went through the graduate program at Georgetown.  It’s hard for me to believe that anyone can take it seriously for ten minutes at a time.  But people do.  People write long, difficult papers on it dense with mathematics.  I think there’s an affliction that I guess I’ll call TANSTAAFL-blindness that produces models like that.  Maybe.  The truth is that I don’t really understand how those who build and believe models like that think.  But maybe TANSTAAFL-blindness is part of it.

Maybe I’ll talk in another post about what I mean by that phrase…but not today. 

No comments:

Post a Comment