Friday, February 6, 2009

Good. Fast. Expensive. Pick two.

This is an old joke about what is possible on engineering projects.

Megan McArdle uses the concept to think through the planned stimulus package.

Good: It is very obvious, now that we have the stimulus plans, that the Democrats are using stimulus as an excuse to spend money on things they want to spend money on.

Fast: The problem is, that contra the Republicans, Democrats do care that money spent on these important projects is spent well.  And spending a lot of money well takes time.

Expensive: What we've got ... is basically one fact: America entered World War II in a depression, and emerged from World War II without one.  Hopefully, the relevant variable was the massive, massive amount of spending, rather than any of the other explanations one can plausibly build ...

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