Pork on the Menu?


Over on the Corner, K-Lo notes how “Wendell Cox is an infrastructure-policy expert/consultant. As you’ll see, he also thinks the train has left the station when it comes climate-change policy, aiming to ‘be at the table’ when the plans are made. [NB: from the tired old saw, “ . . . or else you’ll wind up on the menu”]. Agree or disagree, here are some of his informed thoughts about Obama’s infrastructure talk over the weekend:

The president-elect intends to proceed with an economic stimulus program involving infrastructure spending. It seems likely that the Congress will consent and thus the issue is making the program as effective as possible, or at least as minimally destructive as possible.

Positive words are coming from Mr. Obama. He speaks of ending pork and of getting “the most bang for the buck,” and making the nation more competitive through the program. Further, he is tying the program to improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs). We can be certain that the new president will propose an aggressive greenhouse-gas-reduction program. The economic stimulus program represents an opportunity to direct GHG removal strategies in rational directions. . . .

Here’s a thought that might help avoid some of the damage about to be wrought by opportunistic efforts to bail out windmill builders, luxury electric-car makers, and other rent-seekers: Obama’s OMB director ought to be at the table, confident as I am that he will remain intellectually honest.

Funding alternative energy wouldn’t provide the best bang for the buck in a U.S. economic stimulus package, some economists said. Peter Orszag, President-elect Barack Obama’s chief budget adviser, wrote in January that some investments in alternative energy were “totally impractical” and others “could end up making the economic situation worse,” USA Today reported Friday.

I’m also willing to add a European flair to the fare, given their experience with these boondoggles. How about Italy’s environment minister?

“Some people claim environmental measures are a way to relaunch industry, but let’s be realistic,” said Stefania Prestigiacomo, Italy’s Environment Minister, according to the IHT. “Resources are limited, and they will be even more so because of the economic crisis.”


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