Katie Hallen -- If there ever was a more hated word in the political etymology of 2009, it was "bailout." An unfortunate word choice from the start, the Obama administration used it to describe its loan program with the banks, and then it quickly morphed into catch-all phrase to sum up the problems of corporate excess in the face of unbridled government spending.
Everybody hated the bailout, it would seem. President Obama told us in his first State of the Union last week hatred for the bailout was the "one thing" that united the Democrats and Republicans. "I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal," Obama said.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes and largely out of the media glow, economists were hashing out at academic conferences - and increasingly on the blogosphere and YouTube - the merits of the administration's fiscal mascot, the man behind the bailout's reasoning, as it were: John Maynard Keynes.
Challenging Keynes, the economist who helped us understand the cause and solutions to the Great Depression, is a pretty radical move. A long line of presidents and plenty of modern economists have worshiped Keynesian theory and turned to it to justify government stepping in to help manage market downturns, invest in public works, stimulus programs and hire the unemployed.
But George Mason University economist Russ Roberts, it seems, thought old-man Keynes was getting a little too influential in the new administration - and even more critically, worried that the politics of the "bailout" were diluting what could be a powerful economic discussion. In response, he and producer John Papola launched an educational video to give attention to a lesser-known Keynes peer: F.A. Hayek. Hayek, a staunch advocate of free markets, famously warned against the boom-and-bust cycle that could be spurred by inappropriate government initiatives like artificially low interest rates.
"Fear the Boom and Bust" rap debuted a couple of weeks ago, and it's already climbed to 480,000 views on YouTube. Rivals Keynes and Hayek, in comedy troupe fashion, argue their differences during a night of partying in New York before an economic conference - or shall we say it's Keynes who partakes in the bulk of the debauchery (symbolic comedy, of course).
Check out the video. Who knew a funny video might make the hated "bailout" worth debating again?