Paul Krugman Loves Wasteful Government Spending
Conn Carroll /
Krugman writes today:
The biggest problem facing the Obama plan, however, is likely to be the demand of many politicians for proof that the benefits of the proposed public spending justify its costs — a burden of proof never imposed on proposals for tax cuts.
This is a problem with which Keynes was familiar: giving money away, he pointed out, tends to be met with fewer objections than plans for public investment “which, because they are not wholly wasteful, tend to be judged on strict ‘business’ principles.” What gets lost in such discussions is the key argument for economic stimulus — namely, that under current conditions, a surge in public spending would employ Americans who would otherwise be unemployed and money that would otherwise be sitting idle, and put both to work producing something useful.
Ffirst let us note that Krugman is implicitly backing wasteful government infrastructure spending. Krugman is arguing for the abandonment of any “proof that the benefits of the proposed public spending justify its costs” and instead wants stimulus decisions made solely on whether it “would employ Americans who would otherwise be unemployed.”
On this point Harvard professor Greg Mankiw writes:
In thinking through the fiscal policy options and their implications, it might be useful to compare a few hypothetical, fanciful scenarios. Suppose that the federal government borrows some money and then…
Case A: uses the money to give a lump-sum payment (such as a tax rebate) to Joe Average, who chooses to spend his free time sitting at home watching Mork and Mindy reruns.
Case B: uses the money to hire Joe to sit at home and watch Mork and Mindy reruns.
Case C: uses the money to hire Joe to sit at home and watch Family Feud reruns, which Joe does not enjoy quite as much as Mork and Mindy. (more…)