Today I read that President Trump has hung a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the oval office. One of Trump’s spokespeople heaped praise on Jackson, calling him:
an amazing figure in American history — very unique so many ways
Jackson was indeed unique–uniquely terrible. Many on the left dislike Jackson because of his mistreatment of Native Americans, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Jackson was objectively and provably a disastrous president for all Americans, native or otherwise. I continue to see Trump get compared to Jackson, but none of these comparisons capture just how bad Jackson was for the country. The 1830s were so long ago that few now remember just how absurdly terrible they were. Let me tell you all about it.
Our new president-elect has a plan that has serious potential that we should all get really excited about–he wants $1 trillion in new spending on infrastructure. This sounds like a lot of money, but our crumbling infrastructure could use even more–the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates we’d need to spend $3.6 trillion to bring our infrastructure up to speed by 2020. Beyond the substantive benefits provided by the new infrastructure, there are tremendous economic advantages. An additional $1 trillion in spending would generate roughly somewhere between 6% and 10% GDP growth over the life of the program, depending on the size of the fiscal multiplier. It would also create piles of new construction jobs in the process. There are however some potential issues with how Trump wants to fund the plan, and we should talk about how to get the maximum benefits from it.
Canada has a federal election on October 19. Back in August, I wrote a post detailing why Stephen Harper needs to go–his austerity program and fixation on developing Canada’s mineral resources have resulted in chronic under-investment in Canadian infrastructure and social programs, and they have resulted in an unnecessary recession. But the Canadian election is a three horse race. Should Canadians choose the New Democratic Party (NDP) or the Liberal Party? Over the past month and a half, I’ve been pondering this quite a bit. Both the NDP and the liberals have interesting policy ideas, and there are good arguments to be made on both sides. But ultimately, I think that if you are going to vote in the Canadian election or know someone who is, the liberals are the better choice. Here’s why.
Recently, I was asked to comment on the debate over state investment in infrastructure, specifically the role that high speed rail has to play. Today I’d like to investigate to what extent high speed rail is a viable option in developed countries as a means of expanding and improving the transportation network and the economy more broadly, comparing it to added investment in airport infrastructure or highway infrastructure.