Velleities Don't Make Money

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

John Stossel notes the careless use of polling data to excuse government looting and meddling:

It turns out that government spent your billions on urban transit based on surveys that asked people if they want to live in "walkable communities."

Of course people said yes! Who doesn't want to live in a neighborhood where you can "walk to shops"? But if they'd asked, "Are you willing to spend about four times as much per square foot to live in a city instead of a spacious suburban home?" they'd get different answers.
Set aside the important moral objections to the government confiscating money from individuals -- for any purpose -- and think about this for a moment.

Why would the bureaucrats bother getting better information? They aren't accountable to customers or backers who will want to know where the money went if it doesn't yield some kind of return. They'll personally look busy collecting their data and analyzing it ad nauseam to produce the kinds of results their agencies need to justify raking in more money. So many people are used to being robbed of nickels and dimes on a daily basis that the few who are curious about where their money is going won't have the time to get into much of a lather about whether they think it is being wasted. Indeed, such polling data will make it look like most people are getting what they want and defuse all but the most principled anger.

I could go on, but isn't it mind-boggling how the abdication of the trader principle makes government planning even dumber than common sense would suggest, based on the fact that government planners, being human beings, aren't omniscient to begin with.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

I've had the discussion that Stossel talks about on numerous occasions. The Tax Me (You) More types point to the state of the roads and say that we obviously need more taxes. I point out that the problem of highway infrastructure wouldn't be a problem if the user fees (not taxes) were spent on the infrastructure that the users paid the fees for in the first place.

Gee, where have I seen a government "trust fund" squandered on expenditures that were not within the legal purview of said trust fund? Why, I don't think that that has ever happened before.

The average (aka low information) voter has no clue about the actual machinations behind our infrastructure deterioration and the purpose of the mainstream press seems to be to make certain that Joe Average can't get a clue. This plundering of the Highway Trust Fund has been going on since the late 80's to my specific knowledge; I worked for a Fortune 500 transportation company then, and they talked about it like it had already been going on for some time.

This is just another ploy for the Left to use to abscond with yet another chunk of people's money, and, by lying about the circumstances of the shortfall, get their willing acceptance of the plunder. Remember the nearly Trillion dollars that Obama tagged for "Shovel Ready Infrastructure Jobs?" It went to various cronies, as one would expect in an increasingly "mixed" (read as corrupt) economic system. As one wit put it, "My dog has created more shovel-ready jobs than Obama has."

I imagine that Joe Average has already forgotten that fruitless expenditure. Until we can get Joe Average to look beyond the range of the moment, the plundering bastards in DC will continue to have their way with us.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


Not just long-range, but individualistic enough that having anything taken from them by force -- even for something they might spend it on themselves -- causes great indignation.

Also, thanks for that fine dog quote.