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March 11, 2009

Premise of the Obama stimulus: Spend money on things that are unprofitable

From "Reality Check", the March 11 edition of the Daily Reckoning's daily e-newsletter [emphasis added]:
Meanwhile, Congress has gotten into the spirit of the Boondoggle Age. It sent a $410 billion spending bill to Obama for his signature. Included in the bill were 7,991 "earmarks," or pet projects that didn't make it into previous bailout, stimulus and boondoggles programs. Included in the spending bill, for example, is a program to pay for eyeglasses for people who are supposed to be blind...and to increase funding for Amtrak. The passenger train system has been losing money for as long as it has existed. According to classical economics (and plain good sense) Amtrak makes us all poorer. It takes valuable resources - labor, steel, electricity and so forth - and turns it into a service - transportation - which consumers judge to be worth less than the resources that went to provide it. Yet, that is the whole theory of the Obama stimulus program!  Spend money on things that are unprofitable. (If they were profitable, they wouldn't need public funding.) Somehow, wasting wealth is supposed to make us all better off.

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