The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Ag

May 11, 2013

I know it when I see it

ENID, Okla. — In the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court case Jacobellis v. Ohio, Justice Potter Stewart wrote a concurring opinion he hoped would establish a legal standard that protected every American’s right to free speech yet guarded “community standards” against “hard core pornography.”

That competing interest, Steward wrote, was difficult to balance because it was difficult to define hard core pornography. In fact, he noted, “… perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so.

“But,” he added in what soon became the most famous line ever composed by any Supreme Court justice, “I know it when I see it …”

What Stewart might have seen 50 years ago is not what he’d see today. Today, anything — everything — goes; the standard is that there is no standard.

It’s the same in big money politics and big money business today: anything goes. A May 7 Washington Post story showcases this no-standards standard.

According to the Post, within hours of a “private call arranged by a (Washington, D.C.) consulting firm called Capitol Street” between a “top aide for Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah” and Wall Street “investors,” a “certain form of speculative trading in Humana, the health insurer, jumped.”

More like exploded; trading was “nearly 10 times as much (in) volume as any day in the previous two weeks.”

But, the story went on, “There is no evidence that the trades were in response to the Capitol Hill phone call …”

What would be evidence that this slimy coincidence was nothing more than just your basic, hard core political corruption — a gun?

Maybe pocket-lining lobbyists and back-scratching public servants don’t know everyday corruption when they see it but I’ll bet you do.

Take Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogarth, two Harvard economists, whose 2010 paper strongly argued that when government spending tops 90 percent of any nation’s Gross Domestic Product, economic growth drops off the table. Their paper contained times, dates and data to prove it.

Trouble is, it didn’t prove it.

In fact, three University of Massachusetts economists — one a mere mortal, a graduate student — examined the paper in detail and discovered the Harvard duo had made come critical math errors.

In fact, the errors were fatal. The Harvard paper had claimed that, from 1945 to 2009, anytime government debt grew to 90 percent or more of national GDP, economic growth dropped to a negative 0.1 percent.

When the UMass economists did the math correctly, however, the negative number grew an astonishing 22 times, from -0.1 to +2.2 percent, a pretty respectable level in today’s stumbling global economy.

A mistake that size isn’t just big; usually it's career ending. But the Harvard economists — maybe because they are Harvard economists — couldn’t accept their mistake. Instead of owning up to it, they called the resulting controversy an “academic kerfuffle.”

Kerfuffle or not, it’s not academic. Several European nations bought into the their prescription and made deep cuts to government spending in hopes of boosting economic growth. Disaster resulted. Spain, for example, followed the advice two years ago and now sports 27 percent unemployment, its worst in history.

This week, the House and the Senate will make public their working Farm Bills. Each will feature spending cuts inspired by the math-corrupted Harvard debt-to-GDP study. The House bill holds an estimated $38 billion in spending cuts ($20 billion in domestic food aid programs alone); the Senate’s $23 billion in cuts.

No member of either committee is expected to ask if the cuts are wise or even necessary and none is expected to ask why conservation and domestic food aid programs must be cut in the name of government austerity and economic growth while funding for crop insurance programs will increase.

Maybe no one in Congress knows bad economic theory and, even worse, bad long-term ag policy when they see it.

You do, though. Right?

1
Text Only
Ag
  • Trent Milacek web.jpg Despite poor harvest, wheat price falls

    I grew up and currently reside on our family farm southwest of Waukomis.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Master Gardener logocmyk.jpg Gardeners share their favorites

    Annuals only last one season, but they are important because of the great variety of flowers that keep the garden colorful throughout the summer.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Conservation workshop set

    The workshop will be 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Center, 316 E. Oxford.

    July 26, 2014

  • Jeff Bedwell Consider safety of forage beforehand

    Drought conditions of the past three to four years and in particular the past eight months had hay/forage inventories at critically low levels. The most recent period ranked as the third-driest period in recorded history. Not unlike the farmers and ranchers of other times of drought, ag producers now have been very resourceful to not only replace hay supplies that have dwindled but also add much-needed revenue to farm income.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Right to Farm web 1.jpg Ag industry seeks right to farm

    The emerging battle could have lasting repercussions for the nation’s food supply and for the millions of people worldwide who depend on U.S. agricultural exports. It’s also possible the right-to-farm idea could sputter as a merely symbolic gesture that carries little practical effect beyond driving up voter turnout in local elections.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • farm - Burlington FFA web.jpg Burlington students attend camp

    More than 1,600 FFA members from 289 Oklahoma FFA chapters attended one of four three and one-half day sessions from June 29-July 12.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • farm - Oklahoma's Dirty Dozen poster 150dpi_W.jpg Poster targets invasive plants

    They all have more than four letters, but they are certainly bad words in the state of Oklahoma.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • farm - Rick Nelson web.jpg Simple steps can prevent fungus infection

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Help plants survive the summer heat

    The July hot weather has arrived, and Oklahoma State University has some suggestions for helping with our gardening needs this month.

    July 12, 2014

  • farm - 4-H_W_W.jpg State 4-H honors volunteers

    A group of dedicated parents and volunteers with Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development Program gathered recently in Stillwater for learning, sharing of ideas and recognition of dedication to Oklahoma’s youth.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Facebook