Infrastructure earmarks have long been a favorite item in the “pork barrel,” and while the US Congress has banned all earmarks since 2011, members of congress have come up with creative ways to get their infrastructure pet projects funded. Still, the ban has stigmatized the politics of pork and increased the cost of such a practice.
In an influential essay, Ed Glaeser noted that the “most pressing problem with federal infrastructure spending is that it is hard to keep it from going to the wrong places.” Unfortunately, the political incentives involved in earmarking decisions are not conducive to choosing projects that are expected to generate the most benefits relative to costs. Decisions about how to spend on infrastructure are likely to better serve the public interest if state departments of transportation and local governments use objective criteria to decide how to allocate all the federal transportation funds they receive and if those entities are accountable to the taxpayers in their state.
Also from Veronique is this plea for more meaningful, substantial, and pro-freedom tax reform. Here’s her conclusion:
As economist Milton Friedman said, the real size of government is measured by how much the government spends, not by the taxes we pay. Most of us would like our taxes to be lower. But it’s only a matter of time before a continued failure to control spending comes back to bite us where it hurts. Mark my words: The problems we fail to solve now will one day lead Republicans to accept a value added tax perched on top of our income and payroll taxes, a carbon tax and higher tax rates on all of us.
In the category of “you can’t make this stuff up” comes this amazing fact: Trump signed an executive order that pushed a $12 billion bailout for farmers. It’s one bad policy to cover up the effects of another bad policy. Rarely has the grim logic of government intervention been more quickly on display.
As the policy of protection produces one failure after another, it is completely expected that the president would blame everyone but himself. Now we are seeing vicious personal attacks being levelled against proponents of free trade.
“Free trade does not create jobs,” writes Stanford economist Melvyn Krauss in “How Nations Grow Rich,” his excellent new book. Instead, “it creates income for the community by reallocating jobs and capital from lower-productivity to higher-productivity sectors of the economy.”