The Myth of Shovel Ready

Greg Mankiw remembers his cautions on the Obama stimulus. No doubt Obama wishes he had paid more attention. Actually, that probably isn’t true. From reading the NYT article it is clear that Obama still thinks everything they did was right. So I hold out no hope for corrections or rollbacks. If Obama could just replace all those pesky American voters with right-thinkers…

Me, January 2009:

People don’t usually spend their money buying things they don’t want or need, so for private transactions, this kind of inefficient spending is not much of a problem. But the same cannot always be said of the government. If the stimulus package takes the form of bridges to nowhere, a result could be economic expansion as measured by standard statistics but little increase in economic well-being.

The way to avoid this problem is a rigorous cost-benefit analysis of each government project. Such analysis is hard to do quickly, however, especially when vast sums are at stake. But if it is not done quickly, the economic downturn may be over before the stimulus arrives.

President Obama, Now:

In the magazine article, Mr. Obama reflects on his presidency, admitting that he let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend Democrat,” realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.”

[From The Myth of Shovel Ready]

2 thoughts on “The Myth of Shovel Ready

  1. The problem with Obama is not that he looks too much like an old tax-and-spend Democrat, as he is looking more and more like an old Chicago Democrat, a product of the party machine that made him.

  2. …like an old Chicago Democrat

    Indeed, a hybrid product of the machine and of the idealistic Silicon Valley types that gave him the new campaign machinery. I wonder what Vinod Khosla thinks today.

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