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.