Sunday, December 06, 2009

If pigs could fly

In today's NY Times, Economist Robert Frank writes "How to Run Up A Deficit, Without Fear ...Taking on debt can be a good thing, if government spends wisely."

That's a very big "if". Prof. Frank is clearly a smart man and many smart men and women speak this way. But at the $4 trillion margin, how fanciful is that "if"?

The politicization of most of these expenditures (and the same can be said of the revenue side) is clear. Add the simple idea that most of these programs are much too large and too complex to be managed by a bureaucracy (politicized or not) and one has to wonder how anyone can be serious about the "if".

Frank is a fan of Pigouvian taxes, but this is textbook stuff that statists feed on. But here is just one small ($700 billion) dose of reality from today's Washington Post.