On laughing like a drain


I've said before around here that political economics is, perhaps, like generals. Everyone's ready to fight (and win!) the last war. But there's an element of not realising that times, tactics, technologies, have changed, and that what might win the last war won't win this one. Whether that war is upon the Hun or upon unemployment:

What happened? Big government -- spending, that is -- ran into good government -- regulation, competitive bidding, environmental safeguards, the works. "To be shovel-ready is much more complicated now than it was in 1933," says Laura Chick, the former Los Angeles city controller (and a liberal Democrat) whom Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed as the state's inspector general of stimulus spending. "Environmental-impact reviews, historic-preservation safeguards, unionization of government workers -- these are good things, but they've changed the way government can operate. Plus which, the federal government said, 'We'll give you a ton of money, and we want you to spend it faster -- and better.' There are no exemptions from regulations that came with the stimulus funds. They didn't waive the requirement for competitive bidding; they stressed competitive bidding."

The very growth of government means that growing government cannot be used to solve our current problems, even as the growth of government solved some past ones.

We cannot have "shovel ready", high labour content digging of roads and railways because we've put in place so many rules about how we we should build roads and railways.

For that very growth of government has meant that we cannot do what Keynes suggested, simply employ people to do things marginally  valuble, for government does not allow such.

Me, I'm laughing like a drain.