Gun Nut Paranoia Stimulus

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
April 30 2013 9:34 PM

Gun Nut Paranoia Stimulus  

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WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14: Senate Armed Service Committee ranking member Sen. James Inhofe talks with reporters after voting against cloture on the confirmation of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of State.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Jillian Rayfield reports on an increasingly popular conservative conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is having federal agencies buy up all the ammunition in America in order to disarm the population:

[Senator James] Inhofe [R-Okla.] argued that Obama has been “adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans’ access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” and that “One way the Obama Administration is able to do this is by limiting what’s available in the market with federal agencies purchasing unnecessary stockpiles of ammunition.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, had a similar conversation with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council on Sandy Rios’ radio show, noting that he’s been “buying my kids ammo instead of saving bonds.”
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Where some see a second amendment issue, I see economic stimulus. The fact of the matter is that the Obama administration doesn't want you to buy savings bonds. That's the whole essence of the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policy. Obama wants affluent families and profitable firms to stop purchasing safe debt instruments and start purchasing capital equipment and durable goods instead. Horde bullets and that means jobs in the bullet factories and jobs for guys driving trucks full of bullets and jobs mining whatever it is bullets are made out of. All those newly employed people in bullet-making and bullet-related occupations will have more cash in their pockets. Cash that'll end up flowing to local shops, restaurants, and other service providers. Welcome to the recovery.

Note, however, that if Inhofe and Jordan and such insist on purchasing bonds rather than ammunition that it's still possible to reap the economic benefits. All that has to happen is that the government increases the supply of bonds (i.e., borrows more) and uses the funds thereby raised to purchase bullets to increase the government's stockpile. It works either way. You can create a dynamic where at the margin households become less inclined to hold bonds and more inclined to hold durable goods, or else the government can give households the bonds they want and go purchase durable goods for the government. Either way makes sense. What doesn't make sense is to simply accept an equilibrium where a large share of able-bodied people are sitting around jobless.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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