Quigley Doubles Down on Ignorance


It’s one thing to hold fast to your perspective on an important public-policy issue.

It’s another to pretend that there aren’t any perspectives but yours.

The Albuquerque Journal’s far-left columnist Winthrop Quigley has once again penned a column arguing for tax hikes in the Land of Enchantment. The Foundation’s Paul Gessing takes the case for tax hikes apart in an op-ed that also ran yesterday, but one claim from Quigley’s latest flimflam must not go unanswered.

“Every expert I can find,” the columnist wrote, “says that to improve an economy in the 21st century you need to invest in your people and in your infrastructure.”

Memo to Quigley: You need to look harder.

Hundreds — maybe thousands — of economists, policy analysts, and scholars disagree. Here are just a few.

* Richard Vedder: The economist has found that contrary to the claim that big spending on higher education generates growth, it’s a booming economy that produces the revenue that politicians devote to government colleges and universities. His Center for College Affordability and Productivity is a valuable resource.

* Eric Hanushek: The Stanford economist, in the latest edition of Education Next, revisits the finding of the Coleman Commission. Now five decades old, the massive research project concluded that “schools bring little influence to bear on a child’s achievement that is independent of his background and general social context; and that this very lack of an independent effect means that the inequalities imposed on children by their home, neighborhood, and peer environment are carried along to become the inequalities with which they confront adult life at the end of school.” Hanushek notes that despite massive increases in per pupil spending, “U.S. student performance is virtually unchanged from that in the early 1970s.”

* Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst: A senior fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution, Whitehurst is one of the nation’s leading critics of “universal preschool.” Research, he summarized, has shown that “statewide [preschool] programs are not working to meaningfully increase the academic achievement or social/emotional skills and dispositions of children from low-income families.”

* Edward Glaeser: A Harvard professor and author of Triumph of the City, Glaeser believes that infrastructure in America “needs intelligent reform, not floods of extra financing or quixotic dreams of new moon adventures or high-speed railways to nowhere,” and that “infrastructure investment only makes sense when there is a clear problem that needs solving and when benefits exceed costs.”

* Veronique de Rugy: A senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center, de Rugy concedes that a “certain amount of public spending on public works is necessary to perform essential government functions,” but understands the pesky reality that such “spending tends to suffer from massive cost overruns, waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Don’t look for Quigley to quote these scholars anytime soon. It’s much easier to parrot talking points from New Mexico Voices for Children than to comprehensively survey all the research on the “need to invest in your people and in your infrastructure.”