Tag Archives: bush tax cuts

Milton Friedman:Republicans are wrong to oppose payroll tax reduction (Part 2 of Friedman interview with John Hawkins)”Friedman Friday”

Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan

John Brummett is critical of Republicans for opposing the payroll tax reduction and I have to agree with him on this.

In an interview shortly after the Bush Tax Cuts passed Milton Friedman was asked:

John Hawkins:Do you think George Bush, with the economy being as it was, did the right thing by cutting taxes?

Milton Friedman: I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible. The reason I am is because I believe the big problem is not taxes, the big problem is spending. The question is, “How do you hold down government spending?” Government spending now amounts to close to 40% of national income not counting indirect spending through regulation and the like. If you include that, you get up to roughly half. The real danger we face is that number will creep up and up and up. The only effective way I think to hold it down, is to hold down the amount of income the government has. The way to do that is to cut taxes.

_______________________

Here is some more of the interview:

Written By : John Hawkins

John Hawkins:I’d like to switch to a different area here. The economy certainly did well in the Clinton years except for the recession that started right at the end of his term. Was that because of Bill Clinton’s policies, a continuation of the success of Ronald Reagan’s policies, or something else?

Milton Friedman:I think it was #1 a continuation of the Reagan policies and #2 an indication of the virtues of a President of one party and a House and Senate of the other. That’s the best combination for economic growth…

John Hawkins:Because they hold down spending?

Milton Friedman:Yes, you have a deadlock. You can’t get any major spending programs through because one party or the other will oppose it. That’s why we have what looks like a paradox. The Clinton administration, in terms of the budget, has one of the best records of holding down spending. Spending went up less under Clinton than almost any other President.

John Hawkins:So do you think if we had Democrats controlling the House and Senate we’d have much less spending from the Bush administration?

Milton Friedman:If the White House were under Bush, and House and Senate were under the Democrats, I do not believe there would be much spending.

John Hawkins:That may be true. Switching directions again, Europe has been moving towards a single currency. Do you think that’s a wise move for all the states, some of them, or none of them? Why so?

Milton Friedman:We’re in the midst of a wonderful natural experiment. You have a really different arrangement with the euro than we’ve ever had historically. We’ve had many cases in which a number of countries have used the same currency. That’s when they’ve used gold or silver as money. But each individual country has been able to control the content of its own money. So while they were using the same commodity as currency, they were always in a position to determine what the terms of exchange were between their own currency and the other currencies.

But the euro is a very different arrangement. For the first time in history, we have essentially an independent central bank for a considerable number of distinct political entities. I, in advance, was very negative about it and have been very negative & pessimistic about it. We’ll see how the Europe plan does on the one hand and on the other, how the other countries of the world, the UK, the United States, Japan, which are linked together by flexible exchange rates, we’ll see how they do.

So we’ll have a really nice, natural experiment just as before the Soviet Union dissolved, we had a natural experiment comparing socialism and capitalism.

John Hawkins:If the euro were to replace the dollar as the medium of exchange, if everyone bought and sold their goods in euros instead of dollars, would that have an impact on the US economy?

Milton Friedman:The success of the United States will depend on how much it can produce at home, how much it can sell abroad, what it buys from abroad. It’s of less importance whether it is denominated in dollars or euros.

John Hawkins:So in the end, that is really not going to make a big difference one way or the other…

Milton Friedman:That’s not going to make a great deal of difference. What’s going to make the difference is the productivity of the different countries. But personally, as I say, I believe the Euroland is going to run into big difficulties. That’s because the different countries have different languages, limited mobility among them, and they’re effected differently by external events.

Right now for example, Ireland and Spain are doing very well, but on the other hand Germany and France are doing very poorly. The question is; “Is the same monetary policy appropriate for all of them?” Germany and France on one hand and Ireland and Spain on the other: it’s very dubious that it is. That’s why you’re having increasing difficulties within the Euroland group. As you probably know Sweden, which had not joined the European Monetary Union, voted down doing so and will keep its own currency.

John Hawkins: It was 56% to 42%so they voted it down by a good margin. Switching gears again here, in your opinion, what caused us to pull out of the Great Depression? Was it Roosevelt’s policies, WW2…

Milton Friedman:Roosevelt’s policies were very destructive. Roosevelt’s policies made the depression longer and worse than it otherwise would have been. What pulled us out of the depression was the natural resilience of the economy + WW2.

You know, it’s a mystery as to why people think Roosevelt’s policies pulled us out of the Depression. The problem was that you had unemployed machines and unemployed people. How do you get them together by forming industrial cartels and keeping prices and wages up? That’s what Roosevelt’s policies in the New Deal amounted to. Essentially, increasing the role of government, enhancing the monopolistic position of labor, and creating as I said before the equivalent of price fixing cartels made things worse. So most of his policies were counterproductive.

John Hawkins:Fast forward to today and there are a lot of Democrats & people on the left out there who say, “Why don’t we just have exorbitant taxes on the rich and minimal taxes on everyone else”? What would that do to the economy?

Milton Friedman:That would eliminate the rich.

John Hawkins:Right. Would it have a negative effect on economy overall?

Milton Friedman:Well, who would provide the funds, the capital, and the entrepreneurship for the new industries? In a world in which there were no rich people, how would you have ever gotten the capital to produce steel mills or automobile plants? You can do it through the state, but the world tried that with the Soviet Union.

It’s an interesting thing. If you ask yourself, “what tax system would be best for the low income group,” it’s the opposite of what they’re saying there. It would be a system with a maximum amount of taxation rather than a minimum. If you look at the taxation system in China for example, which is now doing very, very, well, that’s exactly what it is. In Russia you now have a 20% flat tax which is having the effect of increasing revenues rapidly and also stimulating production. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

John Hawkins:If we don’t “fix” Social Security, what sort of impact is it going to have on the economy in say 10-20 years?

Milton Friedman:Well, Social Security is having a bad effect now through the tax system. But ya know, when Adam Smith was told that the British loss at Yorktown would be the ruination of Britain, Adam Smith replied, “Young man, there’s a deal of ruin in a nation.” So, we’re a very strong country, lots of able people, lots of active entrepreneurs, and so the Social Security system will be a burden, but it won’t destroy the country.

I think it will be changed of course. I think there is a great and growing pressure towards privatizing Social Security, converting it into individual accounts. We’ve been moving that way indirectly through 401ks and the equivalent retirement accounts. I think Mr. Bush will go back to his emphasis on privatizing Social Security. I think there’s a good chance it can be done. It has been done in a considerable number of countries around the world. There’s no reason why it couldn’t be done here.

John Hawkins:Are there any political websites you’d like to recommend to our readers?

Milton Friedman: No, I don’t really follow any political websites. I think they’ll do better reading the Wealth of Nations(laughs)…

John Hawkins:Last but not least, is there anything else you’d like to say or promote?

Milton Friedman:I’d like to promote lots of things. I’d like to promote elimination of drug prohibition. I’d like to promote parental choice in education through vouchers. Those are two things I think are very urgent and important. They’re both more important than the harm which Social Security will do.

I think that our policy with respect to drugs is fundamentally immoral and it’s really disgraceful that we cause thousands of deaths in South America because we cannot enforce our own laws. If we could enforce our own laws against consumption of drugs, there would be no drug cartels in South America. There would be no — nearly a civil war in a place like Columbia.

Similarly, I think the performance of our school systems is disgraceful. I think roughly a quarter of the population never graduates high school. We have a lower level of literacy today than we had a hundred years ago. That’s not despite, but because of the poor schools, particularly in low-income areas.

But I think that’s enough for you. It has been nice to talk to you.

John Hawkins:Thank you for your time Mr. Friedman.

If you’d like to find out more about Mr. Friedman, you can do so at the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation & the Hoover Institution.

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Milton Friedman discusses Reagan and Reagan discusses Friedman

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Brantley misses the point, it is time to cut spending dramatically

Max Brantley wrote on the Arkansas Times Blog:

REPUBLICANS: BOTH SIDES NOW: Super committee budget talks having failed because of a Republic refusal to increase taxes on the rich, they have now set about having it both ways. They are now saying, contrary to evidence, that they indeed proposed to raise taxes on the rich.

____________________

When the federal government brings in 2.2 trillion and spends 3.7 trillion a year then it is time for dramatic cuts. Taxes should be off the table. He has gone on for months blaming the Republicans for not wanting to raise taxes but spending is the problem.

Take a look at a portion of this article below by Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute:

The budget problem is a spending problem. The Bush tax cuts accounted for just 14 to 16 percent of the massive shift from surplus to deficit over the last decade. According to the Congressional Budget Office future deficits will be massive and rising even with federal revenues above the 40-year average of 18 percent of GDP.

We are spending too much, and not spending wisely. The answer is to cut outlays. Not to give politicians more money, which they also will spend, and not spend wisely.

The failure of the supercommittee should not surprise anyone. Legislators never like making tough decisions. After spending wildly for years, they aren’t prepared to cut back.

But reducing outlays is not just an accounting exercise. It requires Americans to rethink what they want the U.S. government to do at home and abroad. Only if they decide to have Washington do less can Washington spend less.

First, Social Security and Medicare should be narrowed to focus on the poor. No more middle class welfare. If you can afford to care for yourself, you collect no more federal checks. And the young should be allowed to opt out of the programs, putting money aside for their own retirement and health care. Over the long-term this will cut trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities.

Second, Medicaid should be turned into a competitive voucher program that shares cost savings with frugal recipients. It will never be cheap to provide health care for the poor, but only by changing the program’s underlying incentives can much money be saved. Reforming Medicaid is important for state governments as well as Washington.

Third, the U.S. government should focus defense spending on defense. No more social engineering around the world. No more subsidies for rich states and nation-building in poor ones. No more interventions here, there, and everywhere for no good purpose. Then military outlays could be cut substantially.

Fourth, take these steps and the government would borrow less, reducing interest payments naturally. That would create a “virtuous cycle” of falling outlays, deficits, and debts.

Fifth, toss in big reductions in domestic discretionary spending for good measure. Let people spend their own money for their families and communities. Then government would be left doing the few things that it really should do.

Solving Washington’s budget crisis is simple, but not easy. Only if the American people demand that Uncle Sam do less will he spend less. Ultimately we, not the super committee or anyone else, are responsible for our fiscal future.

Milton Friedman:Republicans are wrong to oppose payroll tax reduction (Part 2 of Friedman interview with John Hawkins)

Image Detail

 Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan

John Brummett is critical of Republicans for opposing the payroll tax reduction and I have to agree with him on this.

In an interview shortly after the Bush Tax Cuts passed Milton Friedman was asked:

John Hawkins:Do you think George Bush, with the economy being as it was, did the right thing by cutting taxes?

Milton Friedman: I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible. The reason I am is because I believe the big problem is not taxes, the big problem is spending. The question is, “How do you hold down government spending?” Government spending now amounts to close to 40% of national income not counting indirect spending through regulation and the like. If you include that, you get up to roughly half. The real danger we face is that number will creep up and up and up. The only effective way I think to hold it down, is to hold down the amount of income the government has. The way to do that is to cut taxes.

_______________________

Here is some more of the interview:

Written By : John Hawkins

John Hawkins:I’d like to switch to a different area here. The economy certainly did well in the Clinton years except for the recession that started right at the end of his term. Was that because of Bill Clinton’s policies, a continuation of the success of Ronald Reagan’s policies, or something else?

Milton Friedman:I think it was #1 a continuation of the Reagan policies and #2 an indication of the virtues of a President of one party and a House and Senate of the other. That’s the best combination for economic growth…

John Hawkins:Because they hold down spending?

Milton Friedman:Yes, you have a deadlock. You can’t get any major spending programs through because one party or the other will oppose it. That’s why we have what looks like a paradox. The Clinton administration, in terms of the budget, has one of the best records of holding down spending. Spending went up less under Clinton than almost any other President.

John Hawkins:So do you think if we had Democrats controlling the House and Senate we’d have much less spending from the Bush administration?

Milton Friedman:If the White House were under Bush, and House and Senate were under the Democrats, I do not believe there would be much spending.

John Hawkins:That may be true. Switching directions again, Europe has been moving towards a single currency. Do you think that’s a wise move for all the states, some of them, or none of them? Why so?

Milton Friedman:We’re in the midst of a wonderful natural experiment. You have a really different arrangement with the euro than we’ve ever had historically. We’ve had many cases in which a number of countries have used the same currency. That’s when they’ve used gold or silver as money. But each individual country has been able to control the content of its own money. So while they were using the same commodity as currency, they were always in a position to determine what the terms of exchange were between their own currency and the other currencies.

But the euro is a very different arrangement. For the first time in history, we have essentially an independent central bank for a considerable number of distinct political entities. I, in advance, was very negative about it and have been very negative & pessimistic about it. We’ll see how the Europe plan does on the one hand and on the other, how the other countries of the world, the UK, the United States, Japan, which are linked together by flexible exchange rates, we’ll see how they do.

So we’ll have a really nice, natural experiment just as before the Soviet Union dissolved, we had a natural experiment comparing socialism and capitalism.

John Hawkins:If the euro were to replace the dollar as the medium of exchange, if everyone bought and sold their goods in euros instead of dollars, would that have an impact on the US economy?

Milton Friedman:The success of the United States will depend on how much it can produce at home, how much it can sell abroad, what it buys from abroad. It’s of less importance whether it is denominated in dollars or euros.

John Hawkins:So in the end, that is really not going to make a big difference one way or the other…

Milton Friedman:That’s not going to make a great deal of difference. What’s going to make the difference is the productivity of the different countries. But personally, as I say, I believe the Euroland is going to run into big difficulties. That’s because the different countries have different languages, limited mobility among them, and they’re effected differently by external events.

Right now for example, Ireland and Spain are doing very well, but on the other hand Germany and France are doing very poorly. The question is; “Is the same monetary policy appropriate for all of them?” Germany and France on one hand and Ireland and Spain on the other: it’s very dubious that it is. That’s why you’re having increasing difficulties within the Euroland group. As you probably know Sweden, which had not joined the European Monetary Union, voted down doing so and will keep its own currency.

John Hawkins: It was 56% to 42%so they voted it down by a good margin. Switching gears again here, in your opinion, what caused us to pull out of the Great Depression? Was it Roosevelt’s policies, WW2…

Milton Friedman:Roosevelt’s policies were very destructive. Roosevelt’s policies made the depression longer and worse than it otherwise would have been. What pulled us out of the depression was the natural resilience of the economy + WW2.

You know, it’s a mystery as to why people think Roosevelt’s policies pulled us out of the Depression. The problem was that you had unemployed machines and unemployed people. How do you get them together by forming industrial cartels and keeping prices and wages up? That’s what Roosevelt’s policies in the New Deal amounted to. Essentially, increasing the role of government, enhancing the monopolistic position of labor, and creating as I said before the equivalent of price fixing cartels made things worse. So most of his policies were counterproductive.

John Hawkins:Fast forward to today and there are a lot of Democrats & people on the left out there who say, “Why don’t we just have exorbitant taxes on the rich and minimal taxes on everyone else”? What would that do to the economy?

Milton Friedman:That would eliminate the rich.

John Hawkins:Right. Would it have a negative effect on economy overall?

Milton Friedman:Well, who would provide the funds, the capital, and the entrepreneurship for the new industries? In a world in which there were no rich people, how would you have ever gotten the capital to produce steel mills or automobile plants? You can do it through the state, but the world tried that with the Soviet Union.

It’s an interesting thing. If you ask yourself, “what tax system would be best for the low income group,” it’s the opposite of what they’re saying there. It would be a system with a maximum amount of taxation rather than a minimum. If you look at the taxation system in China for example, which is now doing very, very, well, that’s exactly what it is. In Russia you now have a 20% flat tax which is having the effect of increasing revenues rapidly and also stimulating production. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

John Hawkins:If we don’t “fix” Social Security, what sort of impact is it going to have on the economy in say 10-20 years?

Milton Friedman:Well, Social Security is having a bad effect now through the tax system. But ya know, when Adam Smith was told that the British loss at Yorktown would be the ruination of Britain, Adam Smith replied, “Young man, there’s a deal of ruin in a nation.” So, we’re a very strong country, lots of able people, lots of active entrepreneurs, and so the Social Security system will be a burden, but it won’t destroy the country.

I think it will be changed of course. I think there is a great and growing pressure towards privatizing Social Security, converting it into individual accounts. We’ve been moving that way indirectly through 401ks and the equivalent retirement accounts. I think Mr. Bush will go back to his emphasis on privatizing Social Security. I think there’s a good chance it can be done. It has been done in a considerable number of countries around the world. There’s no reason why it couldn’t be done here.

John Hawkins:Are there any political websites you’d like to recommend to our readers?

Milton Friedman: No, I don’t really follow any political websites. I think they’ll do better reading the Wealth of Nations(laughs)…

John Hawkins:Last but not least, is there anything else you’d like to say or promote?

Milton Friedman:I’d like to promote lots of things. I’d like to promote elimination of drug prohibition. I’d like to promote parental choice in education through vouchers. Those are two things I think are very urgent and important. They’re both more important than the harm which Social Security will do.

I think that our policy with respect to drugs is fundamentally immoral and it’s really disgraceful that we cause thousands of deaths in South America because we cannot enforce our own laws. If we could enforce our own laws against consumption of drugs, there would be no drug cartels in South America. There would be no — nearly a civil war in a place like Columbia.

Similarly, I think the performance of our school systems is disgraceful. I think roughly a quarter of the population never graduates high school. We have a lower level of literacy today than we had a hundred years ago. That’s not despite, but because of the poor schools, particularly in low-income areas.

But I think that’s enough for you. It has been nice to talk to you.

John Hawkins:Thank you for your time Mr. Friedman.

If you’d like to find out more about Mr. Friedman, you can do so at the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation & the Hoover Institution.

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Milton Friedman discusses Reagan and Reagan discusses Friedman

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Milton Friedman – The Social Security Myth Uploaded by LibertyPen on Mar 5, 2010 Using Social Security as his prime example, Professor Friedman explodes the myth that the major expansions in government resulted from popular demand. In a speech delivered more than 30 years ago, he directly relates this dynamic to today’s health care debate. […]

 

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President Obama’s job speech reacted to by Heritage Foundation scholars (Part 5)

President Obama’s job speech reacted to by Heritage Foundation scholars (Part 5)

I love going to the Heritage Foundation website because of articles like this:

Heritage’s experts watched President Barack Obama’s jobs speech delivered to a joint session of Congress. Here are some of their immediate reactions:

Obama Calls for Tax Hikes on Job Creators – In Jobs Speech

It was expected that President Obama would rehash and recycle a litany of policies that have no hope of stimulating job creation in his big speech tonight. What comes as a surprise is that he called for offsetting the costs of his sure-to-be-ineffective policies with tax hikes. On job creators.

The President has said himself that tax hikes slow economic growth and deter job creation. That was the justification he gave in December for extending the Bush tax cuts through 2012. It seems he has forgotten what he himself said less than a year ago.

The President called for raising taxes on investors, businesses, and entrepreneurs in his speech. These are the job creators he so desperately needs to help revive the economy. Raising their taxes will reduce the already limited incentives they have to invest and add new workers right now.

This is akin to bailing water into an already-sinking ship.

If Congress foolishly passed the President’s ill-advised plan the tax hikes would be permanent and the jobs policies permanent. The American people would get a permanently enlarged federal government for temporary jobs policies that won’t create any jobs.

Uncertainty is the major factor causing businesses to hold back on new investment and refrain from adding workers. One of the biggest sources of that uncertainty is the President’s never-ending crusade to raise taxes. As long as their taxes might go up, job creators will be hesitant to add new workers.

If the President stopped incessantly demanding higher levies it would relieve some of the uncertainty. That alone won’t cure all that ails the economy, but it would be a big help.

C’mon Mr. President, surprise us in your next major speech by not calling for tax hikes.

– Curtis Dubay

Unsurprisingly, Obama Ignores Energy Exploration as a Solution

Increasing energy supply should have been a no-brainer for President Obama.  It’s a policy that can lower energy prices, create jobs and generate hundreds of billions in revenue from more royalties, leases, and rent.   And it’s a massive revenue raiser that occurs without raising taxes. Instead, the president used the opportunity to take a jab at oil companies and the “tax loopholes” they receive.

To be clear, what the President and anti-oil crusaders label a tax loophole is not tax treatment specific to the oil and gas industry. These are broad tax policies that apply to many industries.

The reality is the economy is weak and steep energy prices will hurt the economic recovery.  Despite the fact that oil settled at $89 per barrel, gas prices remain high and the economic pain as a result of higher gas prices spreads far beyond the pump. Higher energy prices also drive up production costs, which must be reflected in product prices, especially for goods reliant on transportation. Since higher prices reduce quantities sold, producers produce less. In turn, this drives wages down and incomes decline.

At least the people of Louisiana have the Saints to watch, because they don’t have jobs. Despite the fact that the administration lifted the official moratorium on deepwater drilling, the molasses-like permitting process is impeding the Gulf’s economic recovery; 20 rigs are in jeopardy of leaving the Gulf.

But it’s not just the Gulf that would benefit from allowing access for energy exploration and creating an efficient regulatory process that allows energy projects to move forward in a timely manner.  Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming have all suffered from a slower permitting process would see tremendous economic benefits if companies could explore and drill in a more timely manner.  Alaska has 19 billion barrels of oil of its coasts and another 10.4 billion in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  Increased proven natural gas reserves increased states like Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana has increased regional interest.

Increasing access to oil and natural gas reserves in the United States both onshore and offshore, would help offset rising demand, increase jobs and revenue, and provide the real economic boost our country needs rather than more the same tried-and-failed government spending programs.

– Nicolas Loris

Dan Mitchell tells why this deal may develop into more taxes

President Obama’s balanced approach means he wants more money from you. In the article, “Deconstructing the Revenue Side of the Debt-Ceiling Deal: Yes, There’s a Real Threat of Higher Taxes,”  Daniel J. Mitchell tells us what may happen in the next few months concerning taxes because of this new deal:

Politicians last night announced the framework of a deal to increase the debt limit. In addition to authorizing about $900 billion more red ink right away, it would require immediate budget cuts of more than $900 billion, though “immediate” means over 10 years and “budget cuts” means spending still goes up (but not as fast as previously planned).

But that’s the relatively uncontroversial part. The fighting we’re seeing today revolves around a “super-committee” that’s been created to find $1.5 trillion of additional “deficit reduction” over the next 10 years (based on Washington math, of course).

And much of the squabbling deals with whether the super-committee is a vehicle for higher taxes. As with all kiss-your-sister budget deals, both sides can point to something they like.

Here’s what Republicans like:

The super-committee must use the “current law” baseline, which assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire at the end of 2012. But why are GOPers happy about this, considering they want those tax cuts extended? For the simple reason that Democrats on the super-committee therefore can’t use repeal of the “Bush tax cuts for the rich” as a revenue raiser.

Here’s what Democrats like:

There appears to be nothing in the agreement to preclude the super-committee from meeting its $1.5 trillion target with tax revenue. The 2001 and 2003 tax legislation is not an option, but everything else is on the table (notwithstanding GOP claims that it is “impossible for Joint Committee to increase taxes”).

In other words, there is a risk of tax hikes, just as I warned last week. Indeed, the five-step scenario I outlined last week needs to be modified because now a tax-hike deal would be “vital” to not only “protect” the nation from alleged default, but also to forestall the “brutal” sequester that might take place in the absence of an agreement.

But you don’t have to believe me. Just read the fact sheet distributed by the White House, which is filled with class warfare rhetoric about “shared sacrifice.”

This doesn’t mean there will be tax increases, of course, and this doesn’t mean Boehner and McConnell gave up more than Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

But as someone who assumes politicians will do the wrong thing whenever possible, it’s always good to identify the worst-case scenario and then prepare to explain why it’s not a good idea.