The age-old urge to “do something”

Recently I heard an author on a talk show. The author correctly explained in great detail why the economy was in its current situation. He even implicated the Fed. Then the host asked what to do. The author proceeded to explain that the government needs to spend a trillion dollars (!) rebuilding our infrastructure, with massive “investments” in stuff like solar energy.

Yes, solar energy.

The author commits the same error as politicians: he thinks he knows how everyone else’s money should be spent. Since the wealthy pay an indiscriminate share of taxes (the top 10% of earners pay over 70% of the taxes), he’s replacing the wisdom and knowledge of all the entrepreneurs and businessmen out there. He thinks he has the knowledge and intricacy to spend the confiscated assets of tens of millions of people more wisely than those people would’ve done it.

Think about how arrogant that is. It’s what politicians and bureaucrats do every day.

Politicians have the advantage of trafficking in what is seen. People see $50 million spent on some boondoggle and the jobs it produces despite massive inefficiencies. They don’t see what businesses and products and employment will never come into play because that $50 million has been spent.

The ruling party comes up with a spending plan, they blow hundreds of billions of dollars, and then six months later the opposition says “ha, it didn’t work!” … as if politicians ever spend money on anything that does. The opposition party’s stimulus plan wouldn’t have worked either.

A better idea is to stop all “recovery” and “stimulus” plans, but that’s seen as inaction. Egged on by the voters who want them to “fix” problems and end the suffering, the politicians will never let it be. They have to “do something.” They’re like alchemists in a lab, squandering wealth day after day to find that elusive golden formula.

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