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From the NYT, one minute ago:

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama committed Saturday to the largest public works construction program since the creation of the interstate highway system a half-century ago as he seeks to put together a plan to resuscitate the reeling economy.


Although he put no price tag on it, he said he would invest record amounts of money in the vast infrastructure program, which also includes work on schools, sewer systems, mass transit, electric grids, dams and other public utilities. He vowed to upgrade computers in schools, expand broadband Internet access, make government buildings more energy efficient and improve information technology at hospitals and doctors’ offices.

The post-election performance has been mixed tending toward depressing-per-expectations, but this I’ll take. Others are very unhappy and for just the right reasons.

Alan D. Viard, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, told Congress recently that public works spending should not be authorized out of “the illusory hope of job gains or economic stabilization.”

“If more money is spent on infrastructure, more workers will be employed in that sector,” Mr. Viard told the House Ways and Means Committee. “In the long run, however, an increase in infrastructure spending requires a reduction in public or private spending for other goods and services. As a result, fewer workers are employed in other sectors of the economy.”

Yep! We’ll take it!

Written by adswithoutproducts

December 6, 2008 at 8:39 pm

4 Responses

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  1. A New New Deal? MMMMM….public works and abbreviations! Giant dams! Mass transit!

    At some point, I would like to help make a bridge.

    infinite thought

    December 6, 2008 at 9:43 pm

  2. Yes, this is certainly a good thing, and makes for a mismatch with the ideological profile of the solidly right-wing Obama cabinet. It sure shows how dire things are.

    The most amazing thing, to me, was that the solidly progressive/Marxist Political Economy Research Institue (PERI) got mentioned in the NY Times as having authored a similar program. The rub, however, in Obama’s plan will likely have to do with who gets the profits–you can expect those will be privatized, and the rest socialized. Still, yes, we’ll take it. And ask for more!

    IT: if you’re made head engineer for ontological bridgeworks, can you design us a Calatrava-like bridge in the shape of a big figure eight? Can you make it go from here, the Bay Area, to London, via hyperspace technology? Then I might be able to check out what’s up over there. The airfare’s too steep, otherwise. . .


    December 7, 2008 at 7:49 pm

  3. I noticed some ominous language about contractors in the article, yes… Not going to be the WPA, no….


    December 7, 2008 at 8:10 pm

  4. It seems so simple: you can argue that since the government doesn’t need to turn a profit, it can simply do all this at cost. By contrast, hiring a private contractor is a waste of money — or else will mean that workers will be inadequately compensated, etc. “Do you want underpaid workers building your bridges? I mean, think about it!”

    Probably the reason this kind of argument isn’t made is that it’s an argument against capitalism in general.

    Adam Kotsko

    December 7, 2008 at 9:58 pm

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