Even if the spending could give the economy a jolt, at what price? I don't mean the legislation's overt price tag. I mean the production lost because the money borrowed by the government won't be available for private investment aimed at satisfying consumers. Do we want politicians directing how scarce resources are used? I'd rather have those decisions made by entrepreneurs who must please consumers or go bankrupt.
It's perfectly clear that the recession is a license for politicians to do what they've wanted to do all along. All the usual checks on extravagance, weak as they are, have been washed away. Budgets? We'll worry about that later. Inflation? We'll worry about that later. After all, Keynes said: "In the long run we are all dead".
Keynes, at any rate, is dead, but we're stuck with his legacy of profligate, burdensome government. And now we are about to stick our children and grandchildren with even more -- intrusive government, more debt, higher taxes and price inflation.
We should be suspicious when politicians, economists and the media declare a "consensus" and marginalize dissent. President Obama says, "There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy."
That's not true. Last week, the Cato Institute ran a full-page newspaper ad signed by more than 200 economists, including Nobel laureates stating:
"We the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's 'lost decade' in the 1990s ... Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth."
Let's hear no more about "everyone" agreeing that politicians can spend the economy into recovery.