I struggled for quite a while before I came up with a title that really satisfied me for this post. My first idea was “In Theory There’s No Difference Between Practice and Theory”, a wisecrack of fellow St. Louisan Yogi Berra’s. The rest of it goes “in practice there is”. I went through a few other trial runs before I finally ended with the my present title which probably needs some explanation.
First, read Brad DeLong’s post on how to produce “equitable growth”, economic growth, presumably. It’s short but densely packed. Come back here when you’re done.
Who could deny the benefits of perfect stewardship of the economy by the Congress, running “large deficits–run up the national debt–in times of war, depression, or other national emergency calling for government action” but paying “down the debt in other times”? Who would oppose prudent investment or avoiding shifting “enormous resources into value-subtracting industries”? Why would anyone without a vicious or racist streak oppose millions of eager, healthy, well-educated immigrant workers, ready to take the jobs that are waiting for them?
If only there were some mechanism for directing investment swiftly and efficiently into the areas in which it’s needed rather than into areas that are likely to be “value-subtracting”!
There are some things in what Dr. DeLong has written that I’m confused about and I think I’ll put them in the form of questions.
What about our experience of the last 70 years leads Dr. DeLong to believe that such behavior by the Congress is likely?
Have we been in a continuous state of “war, depression, or other national emergency calling for government action” for the last 70 years? If not, have we paid down the debt during the times that we weren’t? If not, why not? What forces will cause that to change?
What forces are responsible for resources being shifted into “health-care administration, prisons, finance, carbon energy”? Did rent-seeking have anything to do with it?
Given the close relationship between poverty and immigrant status, is a high rate of immigration compatible with greater income equality?
The country with the highest percentage of its population having higher education is Canada at about 50%. We’re just slightly below that. Given that we’ve increased real spending on education about three-fold over the period of the last twenty years, how will we produce more education in the United States? Does spending more on education inherently produce more education?