The jobs argument is the last refuge of a desperate appropriator. Our last national experiment with creating jobs through massive infrastructure spending—the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—was a flop when it came to mitigating unemployment. The academic literature on this statute and its effects shows that claims about massive job creation from infrastructure spending should be taken with a healthy serving of salt.
Infrastructure spending should be evaluated on the merits of the infrastructure being built or maintained—not on the jobs created. After all, as Milton Friedman pointed out, digging a canal with spoons instead of shovels creates lots of jobs—but not much infrastructure. Moreover, the Moving Forward Act strengthens “Buy American” provisions: good for populist politics, bad for creating value for taxpayers.
The moral high ground cannot be retained by those who abandon it: Holman Jenkins rightly calls out the Washington Post for outright lying about the contents of a recent Trump speech. Here are Jenkins’s opening few paragraphs:
Every American, regardless of how he or she feels about Donald Trump, should read his July 3 speech at Mount Rushmore and then the Washington Post account of the speech by Robert Costa and Philip Rucker. The Post account begins: “President Trump’s unyielding push to preserve Confederate symbols and the legacy of white domination, crystallized by his harsh denunciation of the racial justice movement Friday night at Mount Rushmore . . .”
Except that Mr. Trump made no reference to the Confederacy or any of its symbols. His only reference to the Civil War was to Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery as a fulfillment of the American Revolution.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, as many commentators on the right noted, also lied when she said Mr. Trump “spent all his time talking about dead traitors.” He mentioned not a single leader or champion of the Confederacy.
In its own account, though hardly friendly to Mr. Trump, the New York Times went out of its way to counter these rampant distortions, reporting that Mr. Trump “avoided references . . . to the symbols of the Confederacy that have been a target of many protests.”
Acting as communists do, the leaders of China’s Communist Party, which is the bone and sinew of that nation’s Leninist party-state, have, less than halfway through their commitment, shredded the agreement to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy until 2047. The new law mocks the rule of law, which requires sufficient specificity to give those subject to the law due notice of what is proscribed or prohibited. The new law stipulates four major offenses: separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign governments. These will be defined post facto, in capricious enforcements against those whose speech is not chilled by the law’s menacing vagueness. The “law” authorizing the committee to operate secretly was released at 11 p.m. Tuesday, probably to deter demonstrations on Wednesday, which was the anniversary of the 1997 handover.