Political Economy vs. Federal Fairy Tales, by James Bovard

The best laid plans of politicians, bureaucrats, and governments rarely make any allowance for the incompetence and corruption of politicians, bureaucrats, and governments. From James Bovard at aier.org:

“Build Back Better” is the motto for President Biden’s ambitious plans to remake much of the American economy and society. On Wednesday in Pittsburgh, Biden will reveal his plans for trillions of dollars of new spending for infrastructure and other projects. His devotees in the national media will whoop up his proposals as the greatest thing since the New Deal, or at least since Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act a couple weeks ago.

Once Biden fires the starting gun, a deluge of experts will descend upon cable news shows to tout the vast benefits of the proposed “investment.” There will be a barrage of econometric formulas that irrefutably prove, via 10 or 15 shaky or squirrely assumptions, that vastly increasing federal spending will multiply prosperity across the land.

Rather than deferring to mathematical formulas, I prefer old time political economy – i.e., analyses premised on the perfidy of politicians and the imbecility of bureaucracies. As a Washington journalist, I have investigated scores of federal programs that sounded great until they crashed and burned (okay, I did give some of them a push). Historical track records of government agencies are a better lodestar than the latest idealistic buncombe regardless of how many MSNBC hosts swoon.

“Washington knows best” is the tacit premise for most of Biden’s initiatives. The Biden administration can trust federal agencies to shamelessly fabricate statistics to vindicate any new program, or at least cover up the initial damage.

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