In the Libertarian Deep End
Michael Hlinka is the notoriously libertarian daily economics reporter on CBC Metro Morning (the flagship morning radio show in Toronto).Â Our paths have crossed before; see my previous commentary:
Michael’s segment on September 1 (in conversation with host Matt Galloway) focused on the Statistics Canada GDP release.Â It was a sensible and largely uncontroversial discussion, with Michael taking a relatively bearish position about the state of Canada’s non-recovery.Â In fact, I generally agreed with his analysis.
Then Matt mentioned and briefly quoted from my commentary that same morning in the Globe and Mail (http://www.progressive-economics.ca/2010/09/01/capitalism-upside-down/).Â That unleashed the following exchange which I present without comment as a statement on the condition of economics journalism in Canada. (This kind of thing is hardly unusual; you get it all the time in places like Lang-O’Leary, BNN, and the National Post.)
You can listen to the original show (if interested) here: http://www.cbc.ca/metromorning/2010/09/gdp-growth.html
The good folks at Metro Morning invited me onto the show with Michael the next morning.Â NobodyÂ apologized for any offense (and none was taken), but we had a very decent exchange that you can listen to here:
Here’s the transcript of the September 1 segment:
Matt: Jim Stanford, economist with the Canadian Auto Workers union, wrote an editorial in the Globe and Mail this morning, and he says that it’s not – and we discussed this earlier – not the role of government in creating recovery, restarting our economy and getting it going. That it’s actually the role of business. This is a quotation from what Jim wrote: “Business should be leading economic recovery, borrowing money (from households and banks) to fund new investments and jobs.Â That’s how capitalism is supposed to work.”
Michael: If he believes it so much, why doesn’t he actually do something useful, and actually borrow money and start a business. Really! It’s very easy to say, ‘Let everybody else do something, let everybody else take the risk.’ What does he do? He basically reaches into the hands of hard-working people, ripping out money.Â I’m telling you, but you’re saying, you’re bringing it up.
Matt: I just, I just asked.
Michael: I know, and I’m just saying, ‘Get a real job. Do something useful.’
Matt: Isn’t that the role of business, though? Shouldn’t business have a role to play?
Michael: Businesses or individuals. Individuals make choices. Free choices about doing what they do.
Matt: But they’re also part of…
Michael: In the same article, he can’t even keep this nonsense straight. He’s talking about an inventory buildup. He says, ‘Moreover, the growth’ – now that we’re quoting it – ‘the growth that did occur was due solely to inventory accumulation. Strip out new inventories and real GDP actually declined.’ So now he’s saying that businesses should invest more when the inventories they’re producing aren’t even being sold. It’s ridiculous.
Matt: How worried are you when all of these numbers start to come together? Again, you’ve been on this saying that we’re not in a recovery, and we get that part of it.Â A jobless recovery is no recovery at all. But when you have data saying that the trade deficit is huge, that growth is almost at a standstill, are you really worried?
Michael: Personally I’m not worried, because I set my alarm clock early in the morning and I do an honest day’s work. And I would … but you know … but I would … I would recommend very very strongly that people think as carefully as possible and systematically as possible how they can create more value. Because if individuals do that, then all the problems are solved.