Government Spending

Obama: Now is The Time For an "Important Departure From the Federal Government's Traditional Way of Spending…"

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… What could it be? Is there finally something new coming out of DC?

Nope. Read on, Macduff:

"…on infrastructure."

In a Labor Day speech, President Barack Obama recycles more stimulus spending on roads and the like as a way to jump-start blah blah blah:

The president said he was proposing a $50-billion program to jump-start job creation and to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure of the United States. The plan includes the rebuilding of 150,000 miles of road, 4,000 miles of railroad tracks and 150 miles of runways.

"I want America to have the best infrastructure in the world," Obama said. "We used to have the best infrastructure. We can make it happen again."

He is also proposing an "infrastructure bank," which a statement from the White House said "would leverage private and state and local capital to invest in projects that are most critical to our economic progress."

"This marks an important departure from the federal government's traditional way of spending on infrastructure through earmarks and formula-based grants that are allocated more by geography and politics than demonstrated value," the statement said. "Instead, the bank will base its investment decisions on clear analytical measures of performance, competing projects against each other to determine which will produce the greatest return for American taxpayers."

Boy, that's a decisive shift in business as usual. There's little doubt, I'm sure, that reluctant private-sector contractors will now loosen their purse strings. The important thing, of course, is that we never ever allow the economy to touch bottom in any given sector because, well, you know, that would just sort of be too depressing for words.

Whole thing here.

And remember, it's not the size of the stimulus. It's the uncertainty.

Bonus link: Just last week, Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website, released its 19th Annual Highway Report. Check out the first line: "We often hear the nation's infrastructure is crumbling, but state highway conditions are the best they've been in 19 years."

A disconnect between DC and those who are actually in the know? Say it ain't so! Check out the whole report.

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  1. Cuts? Spending less?

    1. Actually the increase is that what it would have been without the cuts. A decrease-in-the-increase is a “cut”.

      or something.

      1. Non-Democrat: “Instead of the 3.5% increase in the next-year budget increase for the Department of Departmentalization, you’re going to get a 3.2% increase.”

        Democrat: “You’re slashing our budget!”

        CNN Anchor: “The Republicans proposed slashing the budget today…”

  2. Yes, no doubt such a government-run bank will make investment decisions based solely on good business sense and not political agendas.

  3. Read on, Macduff…

    I shall… lest you continue in your quotations and mention the name of the Scottish Play.

    1. Macbeth?

      Aahhhhh. Hot potato, off his drawers, Puck will make amends. Aaahh.

      1. Good lord. You mean you have to do that every time I say “Macbeth”?

  4. You know, it’s too bad the first stimulus wasn’t “an important departure from the federal government’s traditional way of spending on infrastructure through earmarks and formula-based grants that are allocated more by geography and politics than demonstrated value” instead of the order-of-magnitude greater hogfest that it was.

    Should we take this as an admission by the President of massive malfeasance by him and Congress in the critical times of the first stimulus?

    1. It isn’t polite to mention that–as we try to move forward on behalf of the American People?–lest you be called “negative” or “obstructionist” or “the party of no.”

      1. You forgot “Racist.”

  5. Umm, aren’t the railways privately owned? And, shouldn’t the airports be privatized?

    Just asking.

  6. “the bank will base its investment decisions on clear analytical measures of performance, competing projects against each other to determine which will produce the greatest return for American taxpayers.”

    Set up a website WhatWouldYouDoWith50B.gov. Let the public post ideas documented with “clear analytical measures”. After, say, 60 days open it up for *taxpayer* vote, with “None of the above” and “Divvy it up to the taxpayers” being legitimate options.

    1. Add a huge one-way span to “The Bridge to Nowhere” and name it “The Greatest Return.”

    2. Give it to me.

    3. Throwing $100 bills out of a helicopter would be more effective than anything they have tried or will try.

      1. My God, man, do you know how long it would take me to collect, let alone spend, $50 billion if delivered in such an inefficient fashion? Do you know nothing of economics?

        1. According to my back-of-the envelope calculations:
          if you had 100 helicopters each dropping $100 notes at the rate of one per second, working 24/7, it would take more than three and a half years to give out $50 billion.

          1. And collecting the money would take even longer. Just give it to me electronically.

  7. Maybe we could come up with an idea that isn’t 80 years old and completely out of date. In the 1930s, you could take a bunch of out-of-work dudes who were pushing sticks with farm attachments on them last year, give them sticks with road building attachments on them this year, get the guy who’d run a tractor to run the truck, and make put them to productive work. The situation is not analagous today. People with gender studies degrees are probably not safe to leave unattended around the equipment they use to lay road today.

    1. “People with gender studies degrees are probably not safe to leave unattended around the equipment they use to lay road today.”

      Of all the reasons I oppose spending 50 billion on infrastructure, this is not one of them.

      1. Yes it is. The herd thinning benefits would be outweighed by having someone with a gender studies degree drive a front-loaded into on coming traffic thereby killing productive citizens.

        Of course, if we restricted them to projects near colleges and universities it might balance out in the positive.

      2. Oh, some of those people laid me.

      3. Why do you hate those wonderful machines?

        1. I don’t hate those wonderful machines, I just want them to realize their potential for ridding the world of those with gender studies degrees.

  8. He is also proposing an “infrastructure bank,” which a statement from the White House said “would leverage private and state and local capital to invest in projects that are most critical to our economic progress.”

    Because smart people like Obama know what is critical. The stupid never ends with this guy.

    1. “infrastructure bank”

      I’m thinking $50B could be spent to erect an edifice worthy of such a vital mission.

      1. Pyramids. That is the solution to all of our problems. Bricks are greed technology you know.

        1. “greed technology”

          Nice!

          1. This sounds like a great idea. Resurrect the WPA, and put hard-working unemployed Americans on the pyramid payroll. God, I’m brilliant!

            1. This time we’ll call it the Federal Labor Service and we’ll equip them with a bicycle and a shovel.

  9. Stop talking about me like I am a dog.

    1. Stop talking about me like I am a dog.

    2. Stop talking about me like I am a dog.

    3. Stop talking about me like I am a dog.

      1. I’ll respect you after the election.

        1. Stop talking about me like I am a dog.

          But you are my bitch.

          1. Mine too!!

          2. Don’t forget about me

    4. Really? Most people love their dogs because they are loyal to them, protective of their families, and friendly with their neighbors, but scold them when they run off at the command of strangers, don’t ward off attackers, and soil the carpet.

      1. Moslems hate dogs.

        1. Just one of the many flaws of Islam. Dogs are great creatures, and anyone who hates a dog because their “god” told them to, is a fool.

          And pigs. Because they give us tasty bacony meat.

          1. That, and beating women to death with rocks. Sorry, but that’s just wrong.

          2. “”And pigs. Because they give us tasty bacony meat.””

            uuuummmmmm, bacony

            Is that a flaw of Judaism too?

  10. “would leverage private and state and local capital to invest in projects that are most critical to our economic progress.”

    I thought over-leveraging was one of the problems of the big banks. What makes him think that government bureaucrats can leverage assets better than private banks?

    1. What makes him think that government bureaucrats can leverage assets better than private banks?

      Rhetorical question, I presume.

    2. Private banks can’t print more money. I’m thinking these would cash money placed directly in the pockets of large road contractors in key swing states.

    3. Good question. Obama and his advisers seem to have all of the economic sophistication of lefty undergrads. Central planning has been discredited for going on fifty years now. Yet, that is their solution to everything.

      1. Central planning has been discredited for going on fifty years now.

        And that is why my Administration is providing it with credit.

        I don’t mean to sound condescending, John, but … Duh.

        1. “Central planning” is such a broad term I think its meaningless to say it has been “discredited.” If what is meant is Soviet style planning, yes I hope people see the obvious faults there, but if it means some level of planning by the national government then pretty much every government does this so it would be hard to find it “discredited.”

          1. “if it means some level of planning by the national government then pretty much every government does this so it would be hard to find it “discredited.”

            If you mean by “central planning” you mean they plan their own operations, then yes some planning has to occur. If you mean as I meant, central planning of economic activity outside of the government, then yes that central planning has failed every time it has been tried and is as thoroughly discredited as any ideology can be. It only survives because people love power more than they love the truth.

            1. “If you mean as I meant, central planning of economic activity outside of the government”

              Every nation in the past fifty years has done this. Even pre-Chinese control Hong Kong did some of this. I don’t think the whole world are masochists…

              1. Done what? How so? Give specific examples of where they have done this and where it has been successful. Has every country in history had stupid economic policies mixed in with good ones and succeeded in spite of the bad policies? Sure. But that doesn’t make the bad policies any better.

                Stop pulling shit out of your ass and make a better argument than “a lot of governments do it so it must be good.”

                1. I’m not arguing every country does it so it must be good. I’m arguing that every country does it so it’s goofy to point to the failed nations that do it and say “a-ha!”. There’s no “control group.”

                  Now if you want to say something like the amount of government planning is related to economic success, then we’ve got a sensible, testable hypothesis.

                  1. BTW-I think you would find a correlation there, though it would not be the 1.000 that some folks seem to suggest in their rhetoric.

                  2. “I’m arguing that every country does it so it’s goofy to point to the failed nations that do it and say “a-ha!”. There’s no “control group.”

                    No. I said it was discredited. And it is. I never said only “failed nations do it”. Successful nations do lots of discredited and stupid economic policies. They only succeed in spite of not because of those policies. You only pretended I said that because you are too stupid and too disingenuous to have an honest debate about the subject.

                    1. “They only succeed in spite of not because of those policies.”

                      But now we get to what I call the “religious” nature of many pro-market viewpoints. We get a nonfalsifiable proposition when we can explain any high government intervention success story as having been “in spite” of the intervention and every success “because” of the lack thereof.

                      And why such a rage-aholic this morning John? We can almost see the foam on your mouth…

                    2. “But now we get to what I call the “religious” nature of many pro-market viewpoints.”

                      Thus we get an example of the disingenuous nature of liberals. You are such a lying sack of shit MNG. You can’t name one centrally planned economic program that has worked. With a simple google search you can find endless amounts of research showing how government planning failed in the 30s all the way through 2000s. Jesus Tap Dancing Christ, Milton Friedman won a noble prize for showing that central planning failed in the 1930s. Hayek wrote several entire books on it that still stand today. More recently, Amity Shales gives you a very good non-technical history that even someone on your intellectual level could understand explaining the failures of central planning in The Forgotten Man. Intellectually and practically economic central planning has been completely discredited.

                      And all you can do is make the kindergarten level argument that since countries do it must be okay. You really do enjoy being ignorant. Everyday it is like you wake up and say, “what obvious truth can I deny today and how can I continue to believe in the indefensible”. And being willfully ignorant is not good enough. You have to project your willful ignorance on everyone else.

                    3. John
                      You’re a very angry fanatic dude.

                      Look, since every nation was involved in central planning for the past fifty years there is no way you can conclusively determine that central planning per se leads to bad economic results. Heck, even our own national history shows times of economic success during times of relatively heavy government intervention and vice versa (the 1940s and 1960s vs. the late 1920’s early 1930’s fore example). Nations like Japan and South Korea went from third world level economies to national players under pretty heavy industrial policies.

                      But look, I don’t need to produce specific counter examples to your hypothesis when my point is that you haven’t even put forward a testable hypothesis in the first place! anything I mention you will say “in spite of” and everything you cite you will say “because of.”

                    4. “Heck, even our own national history shows times of economic success during times of relatively heavy government intervention and vice versa (the 1940s and 1960s vs. the late 1920’s early 1930’s fore example).”

                      I can’t argue with someone is so ignorant they don’t know basic facts.

                      The late 1940s were in fact a time when government planning was greatly reduced. That is how the Republicans took Congress back by promising to end government war planning. And they did and sure enough the late 40s economic boom happened.

                      The 1960s boom started mostly because Kennedy drastically reduced the top tax rate. It hardly stands as a model of government planning an intervention. Both of those things prove my point, when government plans less and gets out of the way, the economy grows.

                      You literally don’t know anything MNG. I have never met anyone who knows less about economics and especially history.

                  3. I’m not arguing every country does it so it must be good. I’m arguing that every country does it so it’s goofy to point to the failed nations that do it and say “a-ha!”. There’s no “control group.”

                    Everyone scratches mosquito bites. There is no control group; however, you can compare what happens to people who scratch only lightly for a short time vs. those who scratch them until they bleed. When you see higher rates of infection in the latter group, you can conclude that scratching mosquito bites is always a bad idea, even though small amounts probably aren’t going to cause problems.

                    There’s nothing “religious” about that reasoning.

          2. Point to an example where it works. A huge number of people play the lottery, it doesn’t prove that the lottery is a good retirement strategy.

            1. Well, since it’s the only game in town, I can point to every national economic success in the past fifty years. Of course you can also point to every failure for the same reason.

              1. I do like me some interstates.

          3. Tobias: You know, Lindsay, as a therapist, I have advised a number of couples to explore an open relationship where the couple remains emotionally committed, but free to explore extra-marital encounters.
            Lindsay: Well, did it work for those people?
            Tobias: No, it never does. I mean, these people somehow delude themselves into thinking it might, but…. it might work for us.

  11. Wasn’t infastructure spending supposed to be what a bunch of the original $787B “stimulus” was for?

    You know, the one that actually went to prop up unionized government jobs and failed Medicaid programs.

    1. The original stimulus failed because it didn’t go far enough.

      1. Oopsie! Did I day “failed”? I meant to say it was very successful, but it could have been so much better. Forgive me, Saint Keynes!

  12. Back when the stimulus was proposed I said I would have rather seen it done in tax cuts. I still think that would have been better. However, I’m not convinced stimulus intervention is a priori useless. I’ve read a couple of times that China had a relatively large stimulus type response and their economy got largely back on track.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_economic_stimulus_program

    1. China also has a real estate bubble that dwarfs even the US’s bubble.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/…..56076.html

      All they have done is put off the inevitable. China is about at the same stage the US was in 2001. For them, 2008 will come soon enough.

      1. Whether stimulus can theoretically work and what causes real estate bubbles strike me as two different questions. I could be wrong, but I don’t see it obviously right now.

        1. Stimulus cause bubbles. They don’t have to cause real estate bubbles. It depends on the stimulus and how you hand out the money. But, the money has to go somewhere. And when you give it away, you are artificially creating demand for something and that has a bad habit of creating bubbles.

          More specifically, the US and now the Chinese and before that the Japanese have used stimulus money to re-inflate real estate bubbles. And that is never going to end well, even if it does buy you a few years of prosperity.

          1. “Stimulus cause bubbles.”

            Our current real estate bubble was caused by a stimulus package?

            1. Yes. It was called Alan Greenspan’s easy money policy and Congress’ obsession with “home ownership”. The Bush Greenspan strategy of printing money in 00s to keep there from being a needed reckoning after the tech bubble burst, was nothing but a stimulus. Bush just did it via the fed rather than spending.

              1. So “stimulus”=any government economic tinkering now? That’s a pretty broad definition…

                1. No dipshit, printing money and spending it either via easy fed money lending or government spending.

                  You know what I am talking about. You are just playing stupid because you can’t make an honest argument about anything.

                  1. I submit that if stimulus can morph to mean any government intervention then it’s pretty silly to argue about stimulus, we should just talk about government intervention in total. And that seems over general to me…

                    1. I mean, certainly we will have to drop all of this “Keynesian” talk if monetary policy=stimulus….

                    2. Were you not alive in 2002? Do you not even remember that the government even used the word “Stimulus Package” to describe what the Fed & Treasury were busy doing then?

                    3. Here… Let me help you remember, MNG:

                      http://archives.cnn.com/2002/A…..index.html

                2. Stimulus= any government action intended to stimulate the economy or a particular sector of the economy. Not too hard to grasp.

                3. Printing money = monetary stimulus

                  deficit financed tax cuts and/or spending = fiscal stimulus

                  this is macro 101 stuff

              2. “”The Bush Greenspan strategy of printing money in 00s to keep there from being a needed reckoning after the tech bubble burst, was nothing but a stimulus.””

                What stimulus caused the tech bubble?

                1. What bubble did our Bush stimulus checks cause?

                  1. The “Bush stimulus checks” were a small part of a massive overall economic stimulus “packages”. The rest of it included “record low interest rates” and accompanying piles of money flooding the financial system as well as various renewed pushes towards home ownership and construction projects.

                    And oh yeah, the bubble caused by that is the one currently popping.

            2. You’re assuming the implication goes both ways, which is a faulty assumption.

              1. Yo John and MNG, can’t you just stay in one room for your cat fight?

    2. If only we could do it like the Chinese!

      1. Oh, Tom, I’m getting tingrey!

  13. Anyway, Obama’s latest economic proposal is a transparent, cynical attempt to raise the fortunes of a sinking Democrat party before the election. Every sentient American knows it.

    1. Yes. He waited too long. In some ways he would be better off if he didn’t do it. Then he would at least look like someone with principles. As it is, he just looks like someone who is desperate and is convinced the entire country is stupid and will believe anything he says.

    2. This morning, Intrade has the likelihood of Dems retaining control of the Senate down to 59%. The likelihood of Repubs gaining control has remained steady at about 28%, but the “Neither” bid has been going up; it’s currently at 15%.

      1. What’s the Dems odds on the House on Intratrade? Just curious.

      2. Does it matter? There’s no LP candidate in my district, and I refuse to vote Dem or Rep, so I guess I’ll be stuck voting Green. Fuck it. Next time, I’ll get myself on the ballot if I have to.

        1. Not voting at all would be preferable to voting for a Green. Why toss them that bone and give them a legitimacy (however miniscule) they don’t deserve?

          1. Well, if they become powerful enough as a faction, the Dem’s vote is split for a while. The value of that is measured by how you feel about Republicans being in power.

    3. I dunno about that. If he really meant to do that he would do what Bush did and announce some 500 dollar tax cut for everyone. Very few people are going to have their vote swayed by an announcement of future infrastructure projects…

      1. That’s why it’s desperate and cynical. They’re grasping at straws as they get sucked into a November bloodbath. In many ways they’re repeating FDR’s mistakes, blindly and stupidly throwing Keynesian ideas against the wall and hoping something sticks.

        1. This. I point out again: the more desperate “measures” they take, the worse will be their bloodbath.

          1. If only the bloodbath were real, and not just a virtual facsimile…

  14. The real problem with Keynesians is that they don’t understand that work has to be purposeful and focused in order to “stimulate” the economy. You can’t just stir up activity and expect that alone to have any positive effect.

    Keynes focused almost exclusively on the one thing he could measure in the 1930s: the flow of money. He noticed that when the economy was growing money changed hands rapidly but when it was contracting money changed hands slowly. He then concluding that making money changed hands caused prosperity.

    Unfortunately, this is like observing that ants scurry around while gathering food so if he poke the mound with a stick and make them scurry, the ants will gather more food.

    Money is just a tool we use to coordinate real work that creates real tangible goods and services. You can’t create more goods and services just by making money move. The work done in exchange for money has to materially increase the amount of goods and services in the short term in order to increase prosperity.

    We forget that infrastructure elements like roads and bridges are just types of tools and that tools only increase prosperity when they are used to perform necessary work. Repairing a bridge that is still functioning and serving as a tool today might increase prosperity decades down the road but it won’t increase real work today. Infrastructure projects are important to prosperity but their payout is decades out. That is why we pay for them with borrowed capital.

    We erred badly when we let the government interfere with the allocation of material and human resources in residential housing. To return to prosperity we must create new material and create new jobs for those who formally created residential housing. Building infrastructure does nothing materially to help that transition in the short run. (Heck, you can’t even move construction workers from residential construction to infrastructure work anymore because the skill set is different.)

    The only good that Keynes provided in the 30s was riot prevention and political stability. His ideas have never increased real prosperity. Even if this new infrastructure idea works utterly flawlessly as intended, it will have only a trivial impact on our return to prosperity.

    1. Yes, but it’s gone far beyond anything Keynes said. As much as I like to hear Keynes discredited, I believe that Keynes himself would be appalled at what is going on today.

      1. I wanted to break a couple of eggs, not the whole damn carton!

      2. Keynes did say he wanted interest rates to be near 0%.

    2. The ant analogy is awe-inspiring!

    3. The real problem with Keynesians is that they don’t understand that work has to be purposeful and focused in order to “stimulate” the economy. You can’t just stir up activity and expect that alone to have any positive effect

      The real problem with libertarians is they cannot see the million project long list of things that need to be done.

      I know of dozens in my own neighborhood, and so does everyone else in the country.

      1. Then get “everyone” to pitch in and do those things.

      2. It doesn’t work unless the things you’re paying for appreciate. Roads depreciate. They’re necessary, but our roads are generally in good shape, so repaving a perfectly good road is a waste.

        It’s the making the economy spin it’s wheels.

      3. The real problem with libertarians is they cannot see the million project long list of things that need to be done.

        Maybe they should have been done with the first $700B stimulus you guys pushed through.

      4. How do you know that they need to be done (as opposed to just being something you want), and how do you prioritize among them?

        More importantly, how does the federal government do that? Even if your knowledge of what needs to be done is perfect, the feds have none of that information and no practical way to get it. Plus, how do they prioritize it vis-a-vis the rest of the country?

      5. The real problem with libertarians politicians is they cannot see the million project long list of things that need to be done, instead focusing on political favors for their cronies or terrible ideas whose popularity in political circles are maintained by sycophants and groupthink.

      6. The real problem with self-regarding economic illiterates like Chad is that they don’t like it when the market tells them that the million project long list of things they want done aren’t actually all that important.

      7. Chad,

        The real problem with libertarians is they cannot see the million project long list of things that need to be done.

        From the perspective of stimulating the economy, it does not matter if they need to be done. It only matters if the infrastructure improvements produce, by their functioning, enough of short term increase in real work that they not only pay for the improvements/repairs but make a “profit.” Since the entire point is the short term effect, its a waste of time.

        It’s like a carpenter’s hammer. A hammer is a necessary tool for a carpenter. If he trades in his battered all hammer for shiny new, but functionally identical, hammer, he hasn’t increased his ability to produce the economic goods of carpentry. If the handle of the old hammer breaks and he glues it back together, he right back producing the same amount he was before. In either case, the “stimulus” effect is zero.

        However, if he goes out and buys a nail gun, he will increase his productivity and by producing more material wealth short term, he will stimulate prosperity.

        Besides, infrastructure maintenance should be part of the normal, budgeted functioning of the government that built it in the first place. Any government that can’t maintain is dysfunctional. Why poor a bunch of money into a dysfunctional organization?

  15. C’mon guys its going to be deficit neutral, its free money and I’m going to make sure congress makes it so. Stop treating me like a dog just because I shit on your carpet and drink from the toliet.

  16. The real problem with Keynesians is that they don’t understand that work has to be purposeful and focused in order to “stimulate” the economy. You can’t just stir up activity and expect that alone to have any positive effect.

    Keynes focused almost exclusively on the one thing he could measure in the 1930s: the flow of money. He noticed that when the economy was growing money changed hands rapidly but when it was contracting money changed hands slowly. He then concluding that making money changed hands caused prosperity.

    Unfortunately, this is like observing that ants scurry around while gathering food so if he poke the mound with a stick and make them scurry, the ants will gather more food.

    Money is just a tool we use to coordinate real work that creates real tangible goods and services. You can’t create more goods and services just by making money move. The work done in exchange for money has to materially increase the amount of goods and services in the short term in order to increase prosperity.

    We forget that infrastructure elements like roads and bridges are just types of tools and that tools only increase prosperity when they are used to perform necessary work. Repairing a bridge that is still functioning and serving as a tool today might increase prosperity decades down the road but it won’t increase real work today. Infrastructure projects are important to prosperity but their payout is decades out. That is why we pay for them with borrowed capital.

    We erred badly when we let the government interfere with the allocation of material and human resources in residential housing. To return to prosperity we must create new material and create new jobs for those who formally created residential housing. Building infrastructure does nothing materially to help that transition in the short run. (Heck, you can’t even move construction workers from residential construction to infrastructure work anymore because the skill set is different.)

    The only good that Keynes provided in the 30s was riot prevention and political stability. His ideas have never increased real prosperity. Even if this new infrastructure idea works utterly flawlessly as intended, it will have only a trivial impact on our return to prosperity.

  17. The real problem with Keynesians is that they don’t understand that work has to be purposeful and focused in order to “stimulate” the economy. You can’t just stir up activity and expect that alone to have any positive effect.

    Keynes focused almost exclusively on the one thing he could measure in the 1930s: the flow of money. He noticed that when the economy was growing money changed hands rapidly but when it was contracting money changed hands slowly. He then concluding that making money changed hands caused prosperity.

    Unfortunately, this is like observing that ants scurry around while gathering food so if he poke the mound with a stick and make them scurry, the ants will gather more food.

    Money is just a tool we use to coordinate real work that creates real tangible goods and services. You can’t create more goods and services just by making money move. The work done in exchange for money has to materially increase the amount of goods and services in the short term in order to increase prosperity.

    We forget that infrastructure elements like roads and bridges are just types of tools and that tools only increase prosperity when they are used to perform necessary work. Repairing a bridge that is still functioning and serving as a tool today might increase prosperity decades down the road but it won’t increase real work today. Infrastructure projects are important to prosperity but their payout is decades out. That is why we pay for them with borrowed capital.

    We erred badly when we let the government interfere with the allocation of material and human resources in residential housing. To return to prosperity we must create new material and create new jobs for those who formally created residential housing. Building infrastructure does nothing materially to help that transition in the short run. (Heck, you can’t even move construction workers from residential construction to infrastructure work anymore because the skill set is different.)

    The only good that Keynes provided in the 30s was riot prevention and political stability. His ideas have never increased real prosperity. Even if this new infrastructure idea works utterly flawlessly as intended, it will have only a trivial impact on our return to prosperity.

  18. “I want America to have the best infrastructure in the world,” Obama said. “We used to have the best infrastructure. We can make it happen again.”

    Did the train fetishists applaud deliriously when he delivered that line?

  19. Can’t take much more stimulatin’. I fear that one day soon you’re going to see me in the newspapers:

    “Police say the man was running through a Federal parking lot with a ball-peen hammer, destroying auto glass as he went, shouting “Broken-window fallacy! Stimulating the economy!… Bam! Another job created!!”

    1. Are you naked? In my dream, I’m naked, and all the little pieces of broken glass are piercing my ball sack.

    2. [laughs quietly]

  20. He is also proposing an “infrastructure bank,”…

    I dread witnessing the kind of Rube Goldberg machine that our government will have become by 2012.

  21. He is also proposing an “infrastructure bank,” which a statement from the White House said “would leverage private and state and local capital to invest in projects that are most critical to our economic progress.”

    If I thought he actually understood what those words, in that sequence, mean, it might not scare me so much to hear him emit them.

  22. A fancy way to say “more central planning.” Spacibo, tavarishch.

  23. Ok, let’s look at some MATH. There are 15 million unemployed people in the US- according to the BLS. So, with the $50 billion price tag, that equates to $3,330 per unemployed person. Even to cut that number in half to get back to RECORD low unemployment numbers, that would still be under $7 grand per person. What a joke.

    Now, had we taken the $700 billion and just divided it up, we could have given every unemployed person an annual salary of almost $50k for one year. Surely that would have done the job, right?

    I mean, you’ve got to borrow money to try to… oh, never mind. What a stupid, stupid thing to do.

    1. And your math has failed to include the actual cost of materials, transaction costs, taxes, fees, money spent on legal issues and about a thousand other things.

  24. Ok, let’s look at some MATH. There are 15 million unemployed people in the US- according to the BLS. So, with the $50 billion price tag, that equates to $3,330 per unemployed person. Even to cut that number in half to get back to RECORD low unemployment numbers, that would still be under $7 grand per person. What a joke.

    Now, had we taken the $700 billion and just divided it up, we could have given every unemployed person an annual salary of almost $50k for one year. Surely that would have done the job, right?

    I mean, you’ve got to borrow money to try to… oh, never mind. What a stupid, stupid thing to do.

  25. Ok, let’s look at some MATH. There are 15 million unemployed people in the US- according to the BLS. So, with the $50 billion price tag, that equates to $3,330 per unemployed person. Even to cut that number in half to get back to RECORD low unemployment numbers, that would still be under $7 grand per person. What a joke.

    Now, had we taken the $700 billion and just divided it up, we could have given every unemployed person an annual salary of almost $50k for one year. Surely that would have done the job, right?

    I mean, you’ve got to borrow money to try to… oh, never mind. What a stupid, stupid thing to do.

    1. The plan so nice you had to say it thrice?

  26. It’s the uncertainty, eh, Nick?

    Then PROVE it!

    I have challenged you guys again and again to PROVE, with QUANTITATIVE MEASUREMENTS that there is

    A: More policy-related uncertainty now than is normal

    B: That policy-related uncertainty has, in the past, correlated with economic performance

    You guys have FAILED, utterly totally FAILED, in this challenge every time I have issued it. You are just pulling this argument out of your butts, and you know it.

    Btw, there was obviously more policy uncertainty in 2003. Why didn’t the economy collapse? And additionally, isn’t the cause of our current policy uncertainty the obstructionist Republicans?

    1. “Btw, there was obviously more policy uncertainty in 2003.”

      WTF? How so buddy? The Patriot Act is the only aspect of policy uncertainty I can think of and it did produce a giant drag on the economy (and still is)… But it’s nothing compared with the shit going on today.

      1. Jesus…..glad to see you have forgotten your history already.

        How about a $3 trillion dollar war? How about a huge tax cut? How about one of the biggest expansions of the welfare state, ever?

        How you can compare that to utterly watered down financial and health care bills is beyond me.

        1. A $3 Trillion war in the manner of Iraq & Afghanistan doesn’t produce uncertainty so much as it compels producers to shift production towards more war-related activities. Huge tax cuts encourage production, especially when the terms are fairly well known (i.e. how long they will apply and for whom), and while I’ll grant you the expansion of the welfare state can produce uncertainty in the market, it certainly wasn’t bigger 5 years ago than it is now.

          But mostly, you’ve lost the thread of the point, as usual, Chad.

          Regime uncertainty is about not *knowing* what’s coming. And the “utterly watered down financial and health care” bills are thousands and thousands of pages of UNKNOWNS for producers and investors!

          THAT is the point. That’s why I listed the Patriot Act. It was also a thousand pages of new rules that effected everyone in ways that take some time to figure out. New rules on banks, on lending, on public services, on security in transportation, etc. etc. etc.

          Without knowing how those rules are going to effect you – you’re going to be cautious and perhaps avoid making any decisions at all until you sort it out.

          Of course, another big difference is that the Patriot Act focused mostly on security and surveillance whereas the health care bill basically affects EVERYONE in America, and the financial bill is potentially much more important to anyone with any investments.

    2. Let’s see you prove than ANY government intervention of any type at any time has ever had any net positive effect on the economy.

      You leftists are wrong side of the rules of evidence – and always will be.

      No on ever has to prove a negative. The burden of proof is always on those claiming the affirmative condition. And that is always the case with leftists claiming that government intervention has worked in improving the economy.

      So YOU prove that Chad. And do it with absolute definitiveness. The exact same level of definitiveness that I can prove that my car has 4 wheels attached to it. Otherwise you have proven nothing.

      If you can’t prove that something does exist with absolute definitiveness, then by default that means it doesn’t exist at all.

      1. That’s way too high a burden of proof for Chad. But I’d probably even accept just some circumstantial examples if he could back them up with anything approaching legitimate logic.

      2. What “negative” am I asking you to prove.

        YOU are asserting A causes B.

        It is perfectly rational, therefore, to insist that you provide at least SOME evidence that A is actually occuring, and that A has a causal relationship with B. You are doing neither.

        1. I did, cock. And also, it’s a very well known aspect of economics, and in fact – it’s even somewhat measured each year on Heritage’s economic freedom index rankings within the “Freedom from Corruption” section.

          http://www.heritage.org/index/Freedom-from-Corruption.aspx

          Corruption isn’t the only way to have regime uncertainty, however – it can also happen in periods of legislative uncertainty.

          Additionally – Murray Rothbard’s “America’s Great Depression” among many other books about that era covers a lot of this issue with respect to the Hoover & Roosevelt administrations.

          I get that you’re a complete dumbass, but do you really have to flaunt it so often, Chadly?

        2. And by the way, the assertion is pretty fucking self-evident… In simple English, all “regime uncertainty” really means is that people tend to be cautious and avoid acting – especially in terms of long-term decisions – when they have no goddamn clue what legislation they’re going to be effected by.

          And uh… DUH!

          If you thought that you were going to potentially see a gigantic tax increase or even see whatever you want to do banned or restricted severely (perhaps like if you were a doctor and you weren’t sure yet how the new health care bill was going to effect your practice), you may or may not even be willing to risk expanding your existing business – much less starting a new one.

          How is this not just fucking common sense?

    3. The burden of proof is on those seeking to pilfer our pocketbooks of their value to fund their cockamamie schemes, not those who are simply pointing out an obvious truth. Clearly, models proposed by the proponents of Stimulus have proven inapplicable in a manner similar to those of supply-siders wrt the Bush tax cuts. Therefore, it is incumbent on you to provide an alternate model that isn’t as failuretastic as the one used for Stimulus II.

      That said, it would be nice to see a workable model from those citing uncertainty as a major factor.

    4. Oh yeah… Also… Hey Chad.

      Here’s Dr. (I know how much titles mean to you) Robert Higgs on current evidence for “regime uncertainty”:

      http://biggovernment.com/rhigg…..certainty/

  27. It’s the uncertainty, eh, Nick?

    Then PROVE it!

    Perhaps you would like to prove these pronouncements are anything more than empty rhetoric and electioneering.

    You can start with how Obamacare has brought unlimited free health care to the masses.

  28. I like infrastructure as much as anyone, but “infrastructure” is fast becoming the new “electrolytes”.

    1. It’s what economies crave!

  29. And this:

    I know of dozens in my own neighborhood, and so does everyone else in the country.

    Get your checkbook out, asshole, and leave the rest of us out of your mega-bike-trail-dog-park-frisbee-golf-communitarian-horticulturalist wankfest.

    1. To Chad’s credit, back in the day when I was looking at the list of potential projects for the initial Stimulus in my neighborhood there were some legitimatly useful projects considered. Fixing some bad roads, expanding intersections which hadn’t grown to accomodate the changes in the area, you know, things which would have put out-of-work men to work and actually improved the infrastructure of the town (I will leave aside any comments about whether these were cost-effective).

      Of course these projects didn’t get done. They re-landscaped the park.

      1. But be honest, isn’t the park pretty now??

      2. The crux of this is the value, though.

        At the end of the day, our economy really only grows when we get more people, or they are made more productive (thus allowing them to spend their resources on more stuff).

        No one doubts that a new interstate can have a drastic effect on productivity. But is there really a productivity lift gained from re-painting that interstate after it was built, or re-sealing cracks in the pavement?

        The problem with the “Infrastructure Stimulus Spending” gambit is that government got most of its quick “bang for your buck” productivity gains back 50 years ago. Repairing infrastructure (which may be important) does not STIMULATE the economy because we have already reaped the majority of those gains. Instead, that money should be going towards new investments that have similar big-bang-for-the-buck improvements in productivity.

        The actual work is not what stimulates the economy. A job will still be created if a government borrows money to pay a street-repairman or if a private businessman borrows it to install a new point-of-sale system. The question is how much productivity will be unleashed.

        Again, repairing infrastructure may be important- no one likes bridges falling down. But it probably isn’t going to result an significant stimulation of the economy.

  30. inre Choad:

    To paraphrase P Brooks above, If I thought he actually understood what ANY words, in ANY sequence, REALLY mean, it might not scare me so much to hear him emit them.

  31. TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT?..Wake up america!!!! This goverment is the most corrupt we have had in years. The good old boy network is very much in charge.Mr. obama and pelosi are the puppet masters.How many of their good friends benefited by the agreement ” what a farce. All of the u.sSenators voted for this. I am ashamed to say I voted for the these corupted self serving politicians.With good reason they picked an out of towner to be president.All u.s departments need an overhaul. We need to rid ourselves of the puppet masters and the dept heads that bow down to obama and pelosi.I am sick of the lip service I have been getting from these dummies over violations, their friends are getting away with.in the goverment . Barack Hussein Obama , threatens friends and bows to Mmslim.
    INPEACH OBAMA ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.THE COMMANDER

  32. TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT?..TO ALL THE COMMUNIST IN THE IG,FBI,CIA,AND U.S. Senators and the left wing media outlets////////07 Sept. 2008 11:48:04 EST, Televised “Meet the Press” THEN Senator //Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, was asked about his stance on the
    American Flag.

    General Bill Ginn USAF (ret.) asked //Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, to explain WHY he doesn’t follow protocol when the National Anthem is played. The General stated to Obama that according to the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Sec. 171 “?During rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present (except those in uniform) are expected to stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Or, at the very least, ‘Stand and Face It’.”

    NOW GET THIS!! ? – ? – –
    ‘Senator’ //Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, replied:

    “As I’ve said about the flag pin, I don’t want to be perceived as taking sides”.
    “There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression..”
    “The anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all that sort of thing.”

    (ARE YOU READY FOR THIS???)

    //Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, continued: “The National Anthem should be ‘swapped’ for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song ‘I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing’. If that were our anthem, then, I might salute it. In my opinion, we should consider reinventing our National Anthem as well as ‘redesign’ our Flag to better offer our enemies hope and love. It’s my intention, if elected, to disarm America to the level of acceptance to our Middle East Brethren. If we, as a Nation of warring people, conduct ourselves like the nations of Islam, where peace prevails ? – ? perhaps a state or period of mutual accord could exist between our governments.”

    “When I become President, I will seek a pact of agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, and a freedom from disquieting oppressive thoughts. We as a Nation, have placed upon the nations of Islam, an unfair injustice which is WHY my wife disrespects the Flag and she and I have attended several flag burning ceremonies in the past”.

    “Of course now, I have found myself about to become the President of the United States and I have put my hatred aside. I will use my power to bring CHANGE to this Nation, and offer the people a new path? My wife and I look forward to becoming our Country’s First black Family. Indeed, CHANGE is about to overwhelm the United States of America “INPEACH OBAMA THE COMMUNIST ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.//////For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.the commander
    REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

  33. OBAMA goes about his business by speaking the lie. II Thessalonians 2 says that he comes “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.” Revelation 13:12 says, “and he spoke as a dragon?.” Revelation 17 tells us that he was a false prophet, a prophet being one whose calling it is to speak and to teach. The armies of the world may have guns and tanks and bombs to bring people into submission; but the power of speech and ideas is a mighty power. In his initial attempts to destroy the cause of God, OBAMA used a serpent to deceive the woman with crooked speech: “You will be like God.” Now he uses a “dragon” who speaks crafty, lying words. His speeches will be heard by millions who will hang on his persuasive rhetoric. The content as well as the form of his speech will attract. Like most false prophets, he will even be sincere and passionate. But he is a liar. He adds dashes of truth to the mix, so that his lie tastes like truth. He will use all the right catchwords, using the language of the church, even throwing in a Bible text or two. But he is the ultimate Liar, and will deceive many.
    OBAMA will use every tool available: school teachers, politicians, news broadcasters, artists, musicians, scientists and doctors, lawyers and businessmen. All will be pressed into the service of OBAMA to deceive men. But especially he will use those whose calling it is to persuade and to teach ?quot; men who claim to be preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    THE COMMANDER,,, REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE .. THE END OF AMERICA

  34. THE IRON HEEL OF OBAMA

    IN THE PAST FEW DAYS, OBAMA HAS LASHED OUT AGAINST CONSERVATIVES IN A WAY THAT SHOWS THEY ARE ABOUT TO CRACK DOWN ON ALL DISSENT IN THIS COUNTRY. LAST WEEK, BILL CLINTON CLAIMED SAID THAT THOSE ON THE RIGHT SHOULD TONE DOWN THEIR RHETORIC. A HACK WRITER NAMED JOE KLEIN GOT ON NBC AND SAID THAT REMARKS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE BY SARAH PALIN AND OTHER CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATORS CONSTITUTE SEDITION.

    OBAMA HAS BEEN GETTING BOLDER AND BOLDER. FIRST THEY PUT FORWARD THE IDEA OF REVIVING THE UNFAIRNESS DOCTRINE, WHICH WOULD DESTROY CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO. THEN THEY CLAIMED THAT TOO MUCH “HATE” WAS COMING FROM THE TEA PARTIES AND THE RIGHT. AND NOW THEY’RE PUTTING IT IN TERMS OF ACTUAL SEDITION. THEY ARE TRYING TO ESTABLISH A LEGAL BASIS FOR SHUTTING UP THOSE THAT THEY DISAGREE WITH.

    THE IRON HEEL OF OBAMA IS COMING DOWN QUICKLY. IT IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE OBAMA USES SOME EXTRA-CONSTITUTIONAL MEANS OF SILENCING HIS OPPONENTS. IT MAY COME AS AN EXECUTIVE ORDER. IT MAY COME AS A BILL FORCED THROUGH THE CONGRESS BY RECONCILIATION. OR IT MAY BE SOMETHING ELSE. BUT BE ASSURED THAT IT WILL COME. AND WHEN IT DOES, DON’T COUNT ON THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT IN CONGRESS TO PROTECT YOU. THEY SEE WHICH WAY THE WIND IS BLOWING, AND THEY’RE GOING ALONG TO GET ALONG. ONLY ACTION BY THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES CAN STOP THIS NOW. MAYBE THE TEA PARTIERS, MAYBE SOMEONE ELSE. BUT IF ACTION IS NOT TAKEN SOON, THE IRON HEEL OF THE OBAMA WILL HAVE CRUSHED FREE SPEECH IN AMERICA.
    “INPEACH OBAMA THE COMMUNIST ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.//////For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.the commander
    REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

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