Sunday, 8 February 2009

Maybe we don't know better than you: so what?

The new President's view on stimulus:
"Then there's the argument, well, this is full of pet projects. When was the last time that we saw a bill of this magnitude move out with no earmarks in it? Not one. (Applause.) And when you start asking, well, what is it exactly that is such a problem that you're seeing, where's all this waste and spending? Well, you know, you want to replace the federal fleet with hybrid cars. Well, why wouldn't we want to do that? (Laughter.) That creates jobs for people who make those cars. It saves the federal government energy. It saves the taxpayers energy. (Applause.)

So then you get the argument, well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill. What do you think a stimulus is? (Laughter and applause.) That's the whole point. No, seriously. (Laughter.) That's the point. (Applause.)"

Michael Rozeff points to an extraordinarily candid statement of vulgar Keynesianism: any spending will suffice to boost economic recovery, and it is immaterial whether it is spent less efficiently than private sector actors otherwise would. The Wall Street Journal decimates this logic as being "so manifestly false that we doubt Mr. Obama really believes it," but it strengthens the case that, in times of crisis, politicians act in order to be seen acting - not in order to resolve genuine problems. If they have to do something, maybe they could at least follow Jeffrey Miron's first principle: do no harm. Indeed,
"If the cure is worse than the disease, it is better to live with the disease."

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