14 September 2011

Three more charts

From Daniel J. Mitchell, by way of Jeffrey Ellis:

They each give different, not mutually exclusive, accounts of this data. I will let you chew on this:
"In an attempt to Do Good for All, [FDR] ... saddled our country not only with "social programs," but with the deeper, unconscious legacy of belief in Social Programs, irrespective of their effectiveness.  Roosevelt's great domestic bequest was this syllogism: If anything called a Social Program fails, expand it."

— David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge
Update: Tim Worstall argues, convincingly, that it is worthless to compare poverty numbers through time because the the measurements have changed (or more accurately, the way the measurements interact with anti-poverty programs has changed).

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Cafe Hayek | Russ Roberts | Crumbling

Whenever someone writes about infrastructure or bridges, they always use the word “crumbling” and say that we have neglected our infrastrucutre. We have to spend more, we’re told.

It is good to remember this picture from David Leonhardt’s November 2008 column on infrastructure that shows that federal spending on infrastructure as a proportion of GDP was actually higher in 2008 than it had been any time since 1981.
But the bigger problem has been an utter lack of seriousness in deciding how that money gets spent. [...] Government agencies usually don’t even have to do a rigorous analysis of a project or how it would affect traffic and the environment, relative to its cost and to the alternatives — before deciding whether to proceed. In one recent survey of local officials, almost 80 percent said they had based their decisions largely on politics, while fewer than 20 percent cited a project’s potential benefits. [...]

They help explain why our infrastructure is in such poor shape even though spending on it, surprisingly enough, has risen at a good clip in recent decades. Spending is up 50 percent over the last 10 years, after adjusting for inflation. As a share of the economy, it will be higher this year than in any year since 1981.

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"Reason: Hit & Run | Nick Gillespie | How Much Will Obama Spend to Replace the 1 Percent of Schools That Principals Say Are Actually Falling Apart?"

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