Thursday, March 28, 2013

Henry Blodget Wants Nicer Government Choo-Choo Trains

By, Chris Rossini

The King of the Keynesian BusinessInsider appears to be in the UK where he's noticing much nicer government choo-choo trains than exist in the U.S.

In his opinion, this is a problem:
One of the most frustrating and depressing aspects of U.S. politics right now is that so little federal money is being spent on domestic public infrastructure.
I can think of a few things that are more frustrating and depressing, but we'll focus on Blodget's issue of the day instead:
We're happy to spend a staggering ~$800 billion a year on our military--another worthy cause. But we are so appalled by the amount that we spend on our domestic infrastructure that we recently chopped public construction spending from $320 billion to $275 billion a year.
One must first point out the sloppy and incorrect use of the word "we" here. The government is in no way "us".

Furthermore, every decision that the government makes is arbitrary and politicized. There are no profit and loss signals; so government is not given any clues as to where resources should be applied and where they should be removed. There are no consumers making voluntary decisions and indicating what their preferences are.

The government just turns on the tax spigot and money comes out. If the taxpayers don't pay up, throw them in a cage.

Now if the government can't know if $800 billion is too much on military spending vs. public infrastructure, how can Henry Blodget? Neither of them know.
Given our high unemployment rate and extraordinarily low borrowing costs, now would be a perfect time for the government to commit a few trillion dollars over the next decade to bringing our decaying infrastructure into the 21st Century.
Once again, there is no "our" high unemployment. Americans are not the property of the U.S. government. That may sound odd to many people, but it's true. We're forced to do certain things for sure, with the threat of violence should we not obey; but we're still not government's property. Back in the old days, such an arrangement between individuals was called "slavery", but today it's known as "civilized society".

In the real civilized society, called the marketplace, companies (that are not connected to government) religiously watch their profit and loss statements. They vigilantly monitor what their customers want and no longer want.

What if people don't want the Microsoft Zune?'s a gone. What if they want cellphones? Resources are poured into their creation.

And then there's Henry Blodget looking to throw "a few trillion dollars" around to have some people dig ditches and others fill them in. It's as if he's playing CityVille or SimCity and people are just video game abstractions waiting for him to decide on what should be done.
After all, high-quality infrastructure improves life for everyone in the country [Henry's emphasis], not just rich people or middle-class people or the other voting blocks that our two big political parties are always sucking up to.
Oh really?

And how does Blodget know that? For there are no mentions of costs. Blodget needs to read Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson to learn about the unseen costs. The unseen costs of that "few trillion dollars" goes unnoticed.

I, for one, want my money back. I had much different plans to improve my life with it. And whoever I trade with also had different plans. The people who would've used the money to get operations had different plans, as well as those who would've bought a house, or who would've saved to start a business.

The fact that an institution that robs everyone of resources, can use those resources to build things is meaningless. What if government decided (for the benefit of "everyone" of course) to build a staircase to the moon? And to do so they would need all the resources on Earth. Would Blodget become aware of costs at that point? Maybe.
If you spend a lot of time within our country's borders, you get used to how old and decrepit much of our infrastructure is.
This also may be a surprise to people like Blodget, but everything government touches turns to trash. Everything it runs...and I use the term "runs" very a disaster.

We've all been to the schools, the post office, DMV, Social Security office, courts, airports etc....There's a reason most of us dread having to interact with any of these places. And a major reason that many of us dread that doctor's offices are heading down to the same pit.

So is it any surprise that if the government owns (which it shouldn't) "public infrastructure" that it's old and decrepit? Of course not.
I've spent the last few days in the UK, a country whose government is even more obsessed with cutting government spending than our government is. The UK is so insistent on cutting spending that it has thrown its economy into what looks like a triple-dip recession (needlessly so, in the opinion of many respected economists).

But the UK still finds money to spend on its public infrastructure...
If even the austerity-obsessed UK can buy public transportation equipment like this, can't we? Is that really so much to ask?
To think that either the US or UK is "obsessed" with cutting government spending is sheer fantasy. Neither American, nor British citizens are lucky enough to be blessed with such a situation (yet).

Furthermore, the UK government's decisions are just as arbitrary as the US governments. It's all political.

Should there be nicer trains?...or nicer roads?...or nicer bridges?

They don't know. So...the lobbyist that gets the politician the better girls wins. The crony that offers the best fishing expeditions wins.

Blodget finishes off in true SimCity fashion:
Yes, if we trim military spending, we won't be able to fight quite so many wars in so many other countries at once.

But our bridges, roads, trains, airports, electrical grids, and schools in our own country are old and deteriorating.

So even assuming that was have to cut federal spending--which I, for one (and, more importantly, many respected economists) don't think we have to--is this really the way we want to spend our money?


Or is it just that our government in Washington has become so bought-off and dysfunctional that it can't even make choices that will benefit everyone?
What's dysfunctional is the belief that government (which is at all times throwing darts into a pitch black room) should be in charge of allocating even a grain of sand.

Private Property ... Voluntary Exchange ... Prices ... Profits & Losses ... Entrepreneurship

They're the only way out.

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1 comment:

  1. my personal opinion is that the microsoft zune was much better than the ipod.