[UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers. Check out the comments section below for additional eyewitness accounts of mile after mile after mile of mothballed rail transport cars in Eastern Colorado, outside of Bakersfield, south of Olympia, Washington, south of Corvallis, Oregon, and southwest of Phoenix, etc., rail cars used to transport lumber, cars, construction supplies and industrial equipment. Feel free to crowd source your own eyewitness account of malinvested resources from the artificial boom of the 2000s now left idle during the inevitable bust phase of the business cycle -- now tragically deepened by the pathological policies of Obama, George Bush, and the U.S. Congress. For a basic account of the Hayekian malinvestment boom and bust cycle see this article by Tom Woods, this YouTube Hayek vs. Keynes Rap Anthem produced by John Papola and Russ Roberts, or any one of these essays by Roger Garrison.]
Malinvestment. Picture it in your mind. Or take a look out the window. Below right is a photo taken of unused lumber hauling rail cars now parked on a closed railroad spur in Eastern Oregon, part of 20 miles* of empty rail cars dedicated to hauling lumber to market. Most of these lumber hauling rail cars have been in mothballs since 2008 ….
Like a maid who doesn’t do windows, most economists are “scientists” who don’t do field research. The situation is rather different in other sciences. They do field research in the sciences of Zoology, Botany, Geology, Entomology, Oceanography, and Astronomy (in fact, try getting an advanced degree without some field research). They even do it in “Nursing Science”, and “Agricultural Science”, and “Public Health Science”. But don’t ask a computer jockey “Economic Scientist” to leave his office and learn empirically — “test” his understanding — from anything other than his Internet stream of “Official Government Data”.
Twenty-five percent of unemployed workers in America are construction workers. (I personally counted over 100 day laborers seeking work outside of a Home Depot in Glendale, CA last year — before I stopped counting.) The artificial malinvestment and overconsumption boom played out in part through the housing market and associated industries (identified by F. A. Hayek as a classic long-period production good — see The Pure Theory of Capital).
If only 1/10th of 1 percent of the “economic scientists” employed by the taxpayer went to work doing field research on the housing / mortgage bubble we could know EVERY empirical detailed involved in EVERY housing loan and housing exchange across the course of the artificial malinvestment and overconsumption boom. They could do the same in any number of associated industries.
Don’t hold your breath.
Economists don’t do empirical research.
They don’t even use a camera.
Video of uncompleted homes being bull-dozed in San Bernardino County, Northeast of Los Angeles.
A photo of the mothballed Echelon casino project in Las Vegas.
The Wallowa County Chieftain — UP stores 563 more cars.
*I marked 22 miles of steady empty rail cars on dad’s truck odometer as we drove along the rail line, and I subtracted 2 miles for short breaks here or there where the road crossed or farm houses were allowed a unobstructed view. The Wallowa County Chieftain reports however that up to 30 miles of rail line have been leased for the purpose of mothballed lumber car storage.
Below is a close up of the empty lumber transport cars now mothballed in Eastern Oregon: