How Do We Say Goodbye to Oil? Not the New Deal Way.

Today the DC Examiner has a point/counterpoint today (the two articles are linked to seperately below) on the topic of trains.  Both sides are decidedly pro-train.  Edward Hamberger, president of the Association of American Railroads said that more trains are good for America as they reduce congestion and pollution.  James Jordan, president of the Interstate Maglev Project agrees with Mr. Hamburger, but believes that maglev trains are the superior train technology.

Why should Hamberger and Jordan be debating this in a newspaper?  Shouldn’t they be slogging it out in a free market to determine which technology is the best?

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the way things operate in the United States anymore.  Instead, I’m sure we’ll see advocates for trains and the fancier maglev variety of trains going to Capitol Hill in the following months looking for subsidies, regulations to favor their industry, and whatever other handouts government can provide.  This article is just a taste of things to come.

In the coming recession I expect we’ll see all sorts of these panels convening, conversingly quite expertly, and then handing down a decision for the good of the people.  Sound familiar?  These discussions also happened during the Great Depression as part of FDR’s New Deal. But a 2004 study from UCLA has found that these programs hurt the economy, rather than helping it as we learned in high school history classes.

Richard Lorenc at the Illinois Policy Institute reports on the study:

According to researchers at UCLA, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies—which allowed industries to collude in anti-competitive ways, overly-empowered labor unions, and artificially inflated prices and wages—actually lengthened the duration of the Great Depression by seven whole years.

“The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes,” Cole said. “Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened.”

So, while the recession deepens and markets continue to fall you can thank the all-knowing, all-wise oracles of Washington for their “help.”