Saturday, December 10, 2016

Never Trump never makes sense

I read Noah Rothman's latest anti-intellectual screed against President Trump, and just shook my head.

Ignorance ain't bliss.

Rothman took President Trump's call to improve America's infrastructure as an affront to conservatism.


Lincoln started the transcontinental railroad in the middle of a Civil War offering land to the companies who built it.

Bonus: Lincoln approved a welfare program called the Homestead Act. Move and farm an area, and it is yours free.

Teddy Roosevelt started had the USA build the Panama Canal.

Coolidge approved the Hoover Dam.

Eisenhower not only gave us interstate highways, but cleared the way for the St. Lawrence Seaway -- in Canada.

Now Trump is calling for $1 trillion over 10 years in new infrastructure spending.

Rothman at Commentary magazine went ape:
That’s textbook Keynesianism. The logic is similar to that which was favored by Barack Obama and his economic advisors in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, but with one key distinction: The crisis it would be applied to address doesn’t exist.
John Maynard Keynes-style “pump priming” is shorthand for a package of government spending, low interest rates, and tax reductions to stimulate the economy in recessionary periods. Except there is no recession. The unadjusted unemployment rate in the United States fell to 4.6 percent in November and has been at or below 5 percent since January of this year. That same month, the metric used to measure the underemployed dropped to an eight-year low, although still above pre-recessionary levels. U.S. GDP growth in the third quarter of this year was revised upward to 3.2 percent, which is within an ideal range to sustain population growth. The Dow Industrial Average has been riding a wave since Trump’s election, breaking record highs virtually every other day.  If there is an economic crisis, it seems to exist only in the eye of the Trumpian beholder.
Only among Americans without a high school diploma is the unemployment rate still above 5 percent. Labor force participation rates continue to grow every month, suggesting more and more are finding the confidence to enter the job market. For those who are not so confident, however, the mere notion that there is no economic crisis and that their lot in life are of their own making sounds like callous and removed elitism. A cottage industry has arisen in which these voters are told precisely that; their detractors lack the proper class consciousness and can, therefore, be dismissed. To suggest that the nation is not in an economic crisis is to betray to Donald Trump’s core supporters a conspicuously bourgeois attitude.
But President Trump is proposing this to fix physical problems.

President Trump wants to upgrade our infrastructure, which he says is falling apart.

That means airports, bridges, causeways, dams, highways, sewers, and the like need repair or replacement.

The Society of Civil Engineers estimated the nation needs a $3.6 trillion upgrade.

In life I have learned to trust engineers, not writers.

I suppose in some sort of weird, strange, anarchistic universe not maintaining levees makes sense because My Gosh It's KEYNESIAN.

We are not in that universe.

We are in the universe where neglecting levees flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and killed 1,464 people.

A little more patience and a little less Chicken Little from former conservatives like Rothman and his odious publication would be appreciated, because all it does now is discredit the protesters, rendering them useless should President Trump do something alarming.


Have a little fun. Read "Trump the Press," in which I skewer media experts who wrongly predicted Trump would lose the Republican nomination. "Trump the Press" is available as a paperback, and on Kindle.

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  1. There are many folks out there that think concrete lasts forever and that anything made from it will endure. But look at any of the temporary airfields from WW2 and you will see that the runways have turned to sand and the trees have reclaimed the land. Our railroads and bridges are wearing out and it would be a massive jobs program to renew our infrastructure, imagine this as a 30's CCC type of rural renewal. Just gotta get past the ignorant Not In My Backyard environmentalist luddites to get these projects going...!

    1. "Temporary" airfields are just that. There are many concrete structures remaining from World War II that are too massive to even try to dismantle. World War I as well, for that matter. And there are places in France that you still can't enter due to unexploded World War I ordnance. That being said, CCC style infrastructure projects are worth a look. Just try a few smaller ones to start and see how things go. No need to go whole hog from the start. See what works and what doesn't. Prioritize. As far as "environmental luddites" are concerned, most of them are watermelons: "green" on the outside and "red" (commie) on the inside. They can't stop a determined bulldozer driver. - Elric

  2. I like that "...unadjusted unemployment rate in the United States fell to 4.6 percent in November and has been at or below 5 percent since January of this year." line. That number has been finagled and beaten into claiming it's "unadjusted" and reflects reality. I don't believe the GDP growth number, either.
    As for railroads wearing out, I think that's the railroad's responsibility. Bridges, except RR bridges, would be ours.

  3. We should definitely just let everything fall apart because intellectual elitist dorks like to tag infrastructure spending with the Keynesian label, everywhere and always, as if all infrastructure spending can be categorized exactly the same wayand there is no distinction to EVER make about good infrastructure spending vs. bad. Right.

    That's an *excellent* plan. We can focus on developing iPhone apps because technology can fix every problem EVAR.

    What a maroon. Say, do you think we can draw any conclusions about the relative costs and benefits of the Big Dig in Boston ($15,000,000,000, that's Billion with a B) vs. adding some runways at various strategic airports? Or California high speed rail that nobody actually wants, vs. building a highway that drives economic development?

    Some projects make sense below certain price points, some make sense at nearly any price, some don't. Think like a CEO. Like Trump, say.

  4. I watched a debate with conservative head William F.Buckley, who argued one important economic role of government was to build roads. How conservative is he?

  5. Writers can't handle the math and some have trouble with logical thinking as well. But, their sky is falling crap can be fun to watch. Anyone who thinks concrete and steel last forever took too many courses with studies in the title.

  6. I don't trust anyone who bases their argument on phony 'government' statistics.

    So unemployment is under 5% is it? Not according to the ~100 million workers who have no job, it isn't.

    Mark Twain had it right again: Lies, damned lies, and statistics! (Yah, I know it could have been Disraeli, but I like Twain better.)

  7. Rothman was the house Lefty at HotAir until they all came out during the primaries.

    "Lincoln approved a welfare program called the Homestead Act."

    Some welfare, you and your wife (and maybe half your kids) worked yourselves to death trying to make an arid, windswept prairie yield a living.

    If the Indians didn't kill you first.

  8. Rothman sees all that money and thinks it could be better spent on the poor. You know. The one's who drive tanks and fighter jets in Israel.

  9. Congress began considering a Transcontinental Railroad in the 1840's long before Lincoln - because of the gold strike in California. In the 186o's, Congress provided authority for right of way through land-grants and agreed to land-grant loans to the two private railroads in order to cashflow the effort. The loans were later repaid. Lincoln merely signed the bill into law.

    We don't have to looke very far back to find that in todays world, infrastructure money ended up in the pockets of union members and in paying off Democrat supporters. The reality is that we cannot trust the government and that includes Donald Trump. When the private economy improves, infrastucture spending will also rise naturally.

    But populists always have their hands out looking for a handout. Rothman is right again - much further right than Trumpsters.

  10. If an idea is a good one, it doesn't matter whether it was Keynes or Milton Friedmn or Adam Smith that came up with it. Maybe one day they'll figure that out.

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