Other People’s Money

by Don Boudreaux on April 24, 2011

in Other People's Money, Subsidies, Video

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Wisely warning against the folly of government-subsidized high-speed rail, Stanford University historian Richard White notes that “Without bond guarantees, private investors, which so far seem more prone to due diligence than the California High-Speed Rail Authority, have yet to put up money” (“Fast Train to Nowhere,” April 24).

Yep; people spend their own money more prudently and astutely than they spend other people’s money – a fact that Mr. White usefully documents for both 19th- and 21st-century rail subsidies.  Which raises the question: why does Mr. White open his op-ed by complaining that “It is hard for liberals like me to find good news in the latest agreement to cut the federal budget”?

Because Mr. White is correct that irresponsibility and cronyism are unleashed by giving politicians power to spend other-people’s money on glitzy choo-choos, we have no reason to believe that irresponsibility and cronyism aren’t unleashed by giving politicians power to spend other-people’s money on ventures such as education, health-care, social ‘safety nets,’ or the heaps of other programs and projects that politicians today undertake.

Donald J. Boudreaux

Speaking of spending other-people’s money, Charlie Frey reminds me of this video of Milton Friedman.


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