This story is what led me to suggest facetiously a few years ago that we should fake a threat from space aliens in order to provide a politically acceptable cover for stimulus.
Now France has been attacked, unfortunately, by real terrorists instead of fake aliens, and President François Hollande is declaring that security must take precedence over austerity. Is this the start of something big?
I should offer an obligatory disclaimer that will do no good in the face of stupidity: I am NOT saying that terrorism is a good thing, just as those of us who point to wartime fiscal stimulus aren’t saying that World War II was a good thing. We’re just trying to think through some side effects of the atrocity.
The question we should ask is whether the fiscal indiscipline caused by jihadists will make a significant difference to France’s economic performance.
My guess is that it probably won’t. Defense and security spending in the United States rose by around 2 percent of gross domestic product after 9/11 - but that involved a much bigger military buildup than France is likely to undertake now, plus it involved the Iraq war. More likely, we’re looking at a fraction of a percent of G.D.P., which is small compared with the austerity that Europe has imposed in recent years.
Unless France’s response is much bigger than I’m imagining, the impact on growth won’t be large.
The Farce Is Strong With This One
And that one, and that one, and, well, across the board.
It took no time at all for the right-wing response to the Paris attacks to turn into a vile caricature that has me feeling nostalgic for the restraint and statesmanship of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.
The Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week” that we have to denounce radical Islam in general - as opposed to jihadists in particular - because of Hitler. After all, making Islam the rhetorical equivalent of Nazism is a great way to win support from the world’s 1,6 billion Muslims.
The historian Niall Ferguson wrote in a recent column in The Australian that a terrorist attack on a couple of sites within a huge modern metropolis by a small number of gunmen is just like the sack of Rome by the Goths.
And the conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt thinks that taking a remark from President Obama totally out of context on Twitter will convince anyone except the right-wing base that the man who hunted down Osama bin Laden has been an anti-American terrorist sympathizer all along.
I’ve deliberately selected people who are sometimes portrayed as moderate, smart or both. This is what the reasonable wing of the modern right looks like.