Today, I’ve decided to highlight more economic stupidity.
Here is something from one Matthew Yglesias (whose name I always want to spell Yggdrasil). He is the economic “expert” for Slate magazine. In other words, he is paid solely to “think”* and write about economics. Some of you may also know that Matt is a vulgar Keynesian of the Krugmanite variety. You could almost call him a lesser Krugman.** Because of his vulgar Keynesian, Yglesias has never met a government program and government spending he does not support (except when it inconveniences him personally).***
With that small introduction to this professional master of economics, we can turn to what he wrote recently on Amtrak:
In the main part of the country where people actually ride intercity trains and where intercity trains form an important part of the transportation infrastructure, we have operating profits. In a decent national rail policy, those operating profits could finance infrastructure improvements in the northeast corridor where rail is important and useful. Everyone knows that the Acela is a joke version of high-speed rail by European or Asian standards, and there’s a lot that could be done incrementally to improve that with upgraded rolling stock and targeted improvements to straighten tracks or improve tunnels and grade crossings. Instead we’re stuck in a dynamic where all these trains are running in places where nobody rides them and the local voters and elected officials aren’t supportive and Amtrak ends up sigmatized for its dependence on federal subsidies. But operating passenger rail where people want to ride intercity trains turns out to be perfectly viable without huge subsidies. And it could do a much better job of serving the needs of the communities where rail is useful and valued if those operating surpluses were used to cover infrastructure costs rather than soaked away covering operating losses elsewhere.
It’s almost like the train system could benefit from being put in places where people value it and not put in places where people do not want to use it.
This train system would make excess operating surpluses from extracting fares from people who value it. These fares could then go to whomever decided to provide the trains as an incentive to provide trains where needed. The provider of trains could use these surpluses to profit himself and to reinvest in more and better trains for greater surpluses in the future.
If only we could think of a system where people with resources, incentivized by the possibility of profiting off of providing trains, would invest those resources in providing trains in places people valued them in exchange for being able to take an operating surplus from collected fares. It would solve all our train system problems and the government wouldn’t even need to subsidize the train system, saving those tax dollars for something more important, like buying homeless people heroin.
Where, oh where, could the government possibly find a system like this?
What kind of system could possibly cause people to invest resources in providing valued services to others in an efficient manner solely so they can profit from operating surpluses?
A system that utopian must be impossible to create. I guess we must all suffer by paying taxes for trains no one uses.
In case you’re oblivious, that was sarcasm.
There wasn’t much of a point to this post, but this: Matthew Yglesias is an idiot.
I would generally use some superlatives here, but I don’t think my limited writing talents could possibly do justice to his ignorance, as his stupidity is positively Krugmanite.
If his head wasn’t rammed so far up his vulgar Keynesian ass, the supremely obvious solution to this supposed quandary might be able to penetrate his inordinately thick skull and he might actually be of some use other than as a paid stooge of the internet wing of the Cathedral press corps.
On the other hand, if his head wasn’t buried so deep in his rectum that methane and anaerobic bacteria were his primary means of subsistence, Slate wouldn’t hire him for the cushy job of confirming idiot liberals’ a priori emotional beliefs with a few hundred daily words of scientific-sounding economic nonsense.
So, maybe he’s smarter than I thought.
I wish I got paid for the nonsense I write and the Cathedral probably pays better than anonymous blogging.
Maybe I should start writing academic-sounding blather that validates the unthinking prejudices of the economically illiterate and makes them feel smart.
* In this case, the word ‘think’ is used in the loosest definition of the term possible.
** Yes, I know you’re wondering if it is actually possible for there to be a something intellectually lesser than Paul Krugman since he became a paid shill for the Cathedral in the NYT. In this case lesser refers to popularity with fools and usefulness to the Cathedral rather than to any intellectual or analytical (in)abilities.
*** Hint: The definition of a bad government program in the Coocooland of vulgar Keynesianism is any that is personally inconvenient to a liberal shill. The definition of a good government program is any that increases the power of government but does not inconvenience a vulgar Keynesian or a friend of the same.