This Time Is No Different

Source: National Review.

Two paragraphs in the source stand out:

Take government spending on infrastructure, which the president touted last night as a source of major future growth and jobs. It is one thing to assume a major return on investment; it is quite another to find such a return when looking at what happens in practice. A recent review of the literature in this NBER paper by economist Gilles Duranton of Wharton University et al. finds “little compelling evidence about transportation infrastructure creating economic growth.”

Looking at spending on highway construction in the Great Recession stimulus bill, economist Valerie A. Ramey, arguably one of the top scholars on this issue, concluded that “there is scant empirical evidence that infrastructure investment, or public investment in general, has a short-run stimulus effect. There are more papers that find negative effects on employment than positive effects on employment.”

Most of us assume that government spending on infrastructure is inherently beneficial. A more enlightened view is that government spending on infrastructure may be beneficial, but it comes at the expense of other goods the same money might have produced. The two paragraphs make the startling assertion that government spending on infrastructure may not be inherently beneficial at all.

There are links in the source to substantiate the assertion.

23 thoughts on “This Time Is No Different

  1. I’m not really interested in reading a bunch of papers by economists, so I’ll leave it to the members of the church of Hayek explain to me why the feds spending a ton of money to improve infrastructure is bad.

    But here is my favorite part of the article:

    “Consider Denmark. Its government offers 52 weeks of paid leave and other generous, family-friendly benefits. But even in paradise, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. A well-cited study shows that while men’s and women’s pay grew at roughly the same rates before they had kids, mothers saw their earnings rapidly reduced by nearly 30% on average; men’s earnings were fine. Women might also become less likely to work, and if still employed, earn lower wages and work fewer hours. Women are also seriously underrepresented in managerial positions.”

    They’re bemoaning the fact that if you have a system that allows parents to spend time with their newborn children they might actually do that and not work as much. It turns out, if you make sure people have a safety net to fall back on, they won’t feel the need to spend every waking second at work. Perish the thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “They’re bemoaning the fact that if you have a system that allows parents to spend time with their newborn children they might actually do that and not work as much.”

      No, they are pointing out that motherhood is the likely cause of career disparities between men and women. If true, then subsidizing motherhood has the perverse effect of incentivising harm to working women. The effect might be called “systemic sexism.”


          1. Do you not understand the phrase, “might be called”?

            Yes. It is clear what it means. In idiomatic English it is the lead in to a suggestion. So, if you are writing idiomatic English you are suggesting the term “systemic sexism” for the perverse effect of harming women while trying to help them with motherhood.

            And now having suggested that term you want to deny that you did because it has been pointed outt that it undercuts your flat out refusal to recognize the existence of “systemic racism.”

            You can continue your tap dance if you choose but this is exactly what is going on.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. OK, then, let’s take the original statement:

            “The effect might be called “systemic sexism”

            plus my subsequent comment:

            “I wouldn’t use the term, myself”

            and use them to rewrite the communication:

            “Irredeemably stupid people who find systemic racism where it doesn’t exist might call the effect I just described ‘systemic sexism.'”


          3. So, the tap dance continues. Maybe you should write what you mean in the first place? Trying to re-write it after you have been called on its hypocrisy is the peak of Mt. Lame.

            And, BTW, your rewrite is a bust. You still acknowledge that “systemic sexism” is a real thing whatever irredeemably stupid people might call it.

            Secondly, and this is beyond obvious, anyone of your intellectual level should refrain from calling ANYONE “irredeemably stupid.” Not only is it not civil, it also reminds the reader just how divorced from reality one has to be to simply dismiss so much irrefutable evidence – you know – “irredeemably stupid.”

            Liked by 1 person

          4. You make an interesting point, Mr. Murphy. How can anyone reading YOUR commentary here be sure that YOU are not an irredeemably stupid person?


          1. No, on a long enough timeline a person who argues exclusively in bad faith will contradict themselves. They’ll say anything they think will win an argument. What they actually believe is a moving target.

            Liked by 3 people

  2. The saddest part about the B**** infrastructure bill is that very little of is actually for real infrastructure. B**** likes to redefine everything and call it “infrastructure” so in his world Bobby Joe and Jamal having free WiFi and a free laptop to play games on qualifies and those “rich” are going to pay for it. Democrat Mcauliffe’s campaign and his failed Green Tech need some free money so they qualify and the rich will pay dadgummit. Black people need some free money if they vote Democrat because B**** likes electric cars so they qualify, hello rich folks? Wait, I just found out I’m rich some how.


    1. Well, Bobr, cry if you must but we have tried “trickle down” (aka “Voodoo”) economics for four decades now and the results for ordinary working Americans has been a disaster. Time to try “trickle up.” It cannot be any worse. And, I promise you not a single rich person is going to go hungry, have to sleep under a bridge, die from lack of health care or give up their country club membership in the process.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Tried trickle down? Past tense? Every time the GOP can, they’ll try it again. No, it’s as ongoing and as predictable as sunrise May 4, 2021.

        Liked by 2 people

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