Liberal Estes lives in economics fantasyland

I’ve previously called Nick Estes, formerly an analyst with the liberal group Voices for Children, a “crackpot.” Having debated him on economic policy issues, I can assure you that Nick is a very nice man, but he is genuinely clueless when it comes to economics.

Take his recent column in the Albuquerque Journal. For starters, there is the loose use of the term “we.” Who is this “we?” The federal government, state governments, corporations, individuals? He also makes it sound like any healthy, working-age person could simply be put to work building/installing solar panels and wind turbines. Unfortunately, these are fairly technical fields and not every “Joe” on the street is cut out for such work.

Yes, the federal government financed a lot of nice projects back in the 1930s, but as Estes himself seems to admit (and Amity Shlaes documents in her excellent “The Forgotten Man”, Roosevelt’s New Deal didn’t bring the US out of the Great Depression. The Depression ultimately ended after state management of the US economy ended in the wake of World War II.

Of course, throughout his piece, Estes claims that all of his economic policies can be enacted essentially “for free.” We all know that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” The resources government taxes and spends must come from somewhere. These could be used elsewhere in the absence of government taking those resources.

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2 Replies to “Liberal Estes lives in economics fantasyland”

  1. Your superficial assessment of Mr. Estes’ ideas is not sufficient to make your point. I read his column and it made sense to me. Yes there are many aspects of ‘we’ but many of those are easy enough to sort out. We have solar panels on our house and we are not experts but we were capable as are many of hiring others to help with this and indeed to help with global warming and stimulating the economy.
    FDR’s policies did not end the depression but they helped. Think of the economic pit we would be in if the current Republican House of Representatives had been in power. We might still be trying to get over the wreckage they would have left.
    Everytime I see one of their pronouncements about our debt I ask myself where were they when Ronald Reagan or George W. were putting us in awful debt.

    1. Estes is talking about taking unemployed people and putting them to work doing innovative work to make American energy independent and reliant on renewables, not traditional energy sources. This is clearly higher-level knowledge than most unemployed people have. Even installers need more than just cursory training.

      There is growing economic evidence that FDR’s policies are what made the Depression “Great.” In other words, they deepened and expanded it.

      On your final point about Reagan and Bush driving up the deficit and putting us more into debt, I agree with you. Republicans certainly don’t have clean hands and, at least when you consider spending growth by presidential administrations, Republicans look worse than Democrats.

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