This Column Will Pay For Itself!: New at Reason

The notion that a dollar of government spending can yield more than a dollar in savings, "paying for itself," is absurd.

A. Barton Hinkle writes:

The Dutch love their bicycles, if we are to believe what we read in The New York Times. A quarter of all trips are made by bicycle, the paper reports, "and the federal government has been building up the country's bike infrastructure over the last decade."

This is very nice, but also: So what?

Here's what: "The yearly investment of roughly 500 million euros, or about $600 million, pays for itself, proponents say, by reducing health, social and other costs."

Mirabile dictu! A $600 million expenditure that doesn't cost a thing. If only America could import this magical method of financing government initiatives!

Apparently it can. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, President Donald Trump's border wall needs to stop as little as 9 percent of illegal immigrants to pay for itself. How? Ostensibly, it will save government expenditures on education, welfare, and things such as "police, fire, highways, parks, and similar services."

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