The problem is that government has no wealth of its own. All it can do is move wealth from where the market would have channeled it to where politicians want it. Who knows what would have happened if free people had the money that goes to high-speed rail? Maybe cancer would have been cured.
"The private sector isn't going to cure cancer by itself," Draut says.
Greedy drug companies aren't going to cure cancer? I asked.
"They would have by now, if they could."
People with a central planner's mentality have what F.A. Hayek called "the fatal conceit."
I'd have thought the fall of the Soviet Union would have taught us that central planning is destructive, but the conceit of the central planners lives on. Maybe the problem isn't merely economic ignorance. Maybe it's something more sinister: a wish to keep the freeloading system going. After all, if politicians and business leaders admit that government cannot play a constructive role in the economy, what grounds would there be for subsidies, shelter from competitors and other privileges at the people's expense? The anti-free-market ideology is a vast rationalization for favoritism.
The favors, of course, go those who are best at lobbying for them, those with connections and the means to make big campaign contributions. So the government pours billions of taxpayer dollars into wind farms that are half-owned ... by GE.
I bet it's a waste of money.
"Well, maybe it is," Draut says. "But it should be one thing that we, as a nation, are investing in so that we aren't left behind."
This sort of nonsense provides intellectual cover for privilege and crony capitalism.