Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Stimulus for bloggers

Before it's too late and the Senate bill passes, I'd like to make a pitch on behalf of all hard-working bloggers out there: let's see some of that stimulus program come to those who really deserve it. Us.

Here's why it makes perfect economic sense for bloggers to be subsidised, and why we can help the world out of an impending crisis.
  1. Blogging has a high multiplier effect. This arises from the fact that most blog postings are read only by other bloggers. Thus, utility from blogs increases as the square of the number of participants. Therefore, if we can attract 100% more people into blogging by paying them, we will increaes activity by not only 100%, but 300%. If you figure comments into this, the effect becomes cubic and we get a 700% increase (however, note that in some blogs the comments have negative utility). High multiplier effect: check
  2. Blogging is an unskilled profession. Let's be honest - for every Nobel prize winner, there's a nutter or nonentity with nothing to say, writing nothing of interest. It's not like research into green energy or university education - where a stimulus might simply raise the price of already-scarce skills. Blogging is something any unemployed banker or subprime borrower can do, and sometimes already areCrowding-out: check
  3. Blogging can be 'Buy American'. It's easy to put a filter on the IP address of your blog readers to make sure they are within the borders of your own nation. And there's no WTO rule against it! Indeed, citizens of other countries may be quite grateful not to be able to see all those pictures of your cat. Populist appeal: check
  4. Blogging is highly measurable. Indeed, many bloggers do little else all day than check their Google Analytics reports, Statcounter summary, Technorati ranking and listing in EconDirectory.com (still only 114th. Bah!) Thus, the results of the stimulus can be accurately measured and calibrated. Provides jobs for econometricians: check
  5. A blogging stimulus will be timely. As long as it comes in now, before my next rent payment is due, please. One T-word: check
  6. A blogging stimulus can be targeted. Just get a list of blogs from Technorati and email a check to all their owners. No leakage! Two T-words: check
  7. A blogging stimulus can be temporary. 92% of bloggers stop posting before their fifth article. There will be little outcry (indeed, nobody will notice) when the stimulus is withdrawn and the postings disappear. Three T-words: check
  8. Blogging is not subject to Ricardian equivalence. Actually, neither is anything else, so this is a moot point. Contains unproved theoretical assertion: check
  9. Bloggers spend, not save, a stimulus. In order to post pictures of their shoes or the food they ate in a restaurant, bloggers need to buy shoes and eat in restaurants. Thus, bloggers spend more of their money, save less and increase the Keynesian multiplier. Propensity to spend: check
  10. A blog stimulus will increase investment, consumption, private savings and government savings. The average blogger has no idea what an accounting identity is, never mind NIPA, never mind how government borrowing affects private savings, investment and income. Most of them couldn't even define accounting. That won't stop them writing about it. By the well-tested technique of repeated assertion, and by taking selective evidence out of context from different blogs, we will be able to demonstrate that the stimulus will have only positive effects on all possible variables. Meets Fama-Krugman condition: check
  11. A blog stimulus will be non-inflationary. Blogs at present have an average price of zero. Even if the stimulus raises prices at Zimbabwe-style multiples of 500 quintillion percent, the price will still be zero. Thus no inflation will occur. By the same token, deflation is not a risk either! Monetary-neutral: check
  12. A blog stimulus does not promote subsidy of failing industries. Not only is blogging a growth industry which nobody can doubt is part of the new, modern, high-skill economy; but blogs are on such a diverse range of topics that any subsidy will be widely spread across the economy. This is almost the definition of 'aggregate demand stimulus', favouring no specific industry and providing no artificial life support to industries which are due for creative destruction. Avoids Japan problem: check
  13. Blogging has positive externalities and is thus a good candidate for public funding. An increase in blog activity will encourage additional demand for, and investment in, complementary products - particularly twitter. The number of tweets providing links to new blog postings will increase in line with the square of the investment (see item 1 above). It's important not to misconstrue this point - we are not suggesting a fiscal stimulus to twitter. That would be ridiculous. Public money well-spent: check
  14. Blog stimulus is politically plausible. While most constituencies benefiting from a stimulus need to hire lobbyists to promote their cause, bloggers are their own lobbyists! This means that the package can easily gain the political support required to pass. Since bloggers do this job without compensation, this meets the Obama administration's criteria of the stimulus not being a subsidy for lobbyists. Political credibility: check
The only remaining question then is, how much should this stimulus be? I would argue that, in the interests of equity and non-distortionary spending, the entire $800 billion should be distributed to the blogosphere. Since any citizen can set up a blog - assuming that the 1990s plan to give every child a computer was actually completed; I haven't checked - this ensures that the stimulus is equally available to all. As it is an unconditional transfer it should have no distortive effects on prices or demand.

This is an important campaign. Your comments of support on this posting will help make the case to government; I urge you to link to it and promote the idea on your own blog. Please also suggest your own criteria for why a blog stimulus meets good economic principles.

With sufficient momentum we can make sure the stimulus is not wasted on filling in freshly dug holes, fixing the environment or building bridges to nowhere - all things that the market is perfectly capable of doing by itself. Instead of Bridges to Nowhere, what this economy really needs is a serious infusion of Blogs about Nothing.

Yes. We. Can!

10 comments:

Steven J. Balassi said...

Blogging is very "green" since we can work from home!

missmarketcrash said...

You are ahead of the curve...

Bernie Hayden said...

I'm sorry I can't support bailout bucks for bloggers. Blogging creates a lot of hot air which contributes to Global Warming. It also is a prime cause of gridlock on the information super highway.

I would support a tax cut where those paying the most for internet service receive the largest benefit.

Doug said...

The logic is comprehensive and consistent, but I'd wager if the money were offered to commenters alone, 80-100% of bloggers would still approve.

Anonymous said...

Nice one Beats Lending Or Gambling Stimulus

Peter said...

My wife and I both blog - so we'd double our stimulus money. A marriage benefit! Now you can get the GOP behind it!

Anonymous said...

Since bloggers generally speaking have too much time on their hands, providing a stimulus to bloggers will not crowd out productive activity.

That is a second check-off on "Crowding Out"

Laurie said...

Sign me up.

well read hostess said...

I don't know if it's more a sign of my own insecurity or huge ego that I was relieved to see that my own blog wasn't linked to your examples of nonentities and nutters!



-wrh

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

Blogging is an educational resource as it teaches some to either write better or realise they can't write for toffee & quit.

Another side benefit...blogging means there will not be a new generation of pub bores. They can get it all out of their system on their blog enabling them to head to the pub just for a drink.