Friday, November 7, 2008

Make Work Redux

Another week means that another terrible idea from Barack Obama moves its way to the top of the heap. Unemployment jumps, so what do we need to do? Give people random tasks to accomplish. At only $150 Billion over 10 years, it’s a bargain as well.

The Left is ratcheting up their writing output to make the case for this classic make work plan. I try not to read children’s literature, but I plodded through this article written by Robert Pollin from the magazine “The Nation”. You’ve little need to read the whole article given this snippet near the start:

The recession is certainly here, so the question now is how to diminish its length and severity. A large-scale federal government stimulus program is the only action that can possibly do the job.

He goes on to mention that the $150 Billion stimulus earlier this year didn’t do much, nor the $700 Billion Treasury bailout, but the Fed’s $540 Billion guarantee of money market funds was spot on. I guess batting .333 is pretty good for baseball, so surely that’s golden proof we need to risk another $300 Billion at Mr. Pollin’s discretion (his plan is different than Obama's $150B).

What he and Mr. Obama are proposing is to “invest” billions into government directed “green-collar” jobs. The government apparatus will allocate these precious funds to various alternative energy projects, as we move into a new age of carbon free utopia. Apparently, even millionaire venture-capital environmentalists are too thick to invest in this sort of wishful thinking, so the government is going to fill the gap with rainbows, bubble gum, and the well oiled machine of government bureaucracy that we all know and love. If we all clap our hands and believe our little hearts out, those lobbyists circling over head won’t feast on this doe-eyed little program either.

If it gives people jobs, what can it really hurt? Well, Kenneth Green at the American answers:

Unfortunately, the idea of government “job creation” is a classic example of the broken window fallacy, which was explained by French economist Frédéric Bastiat way back in 1850. It is discouraging to think that, nearly 160 years later, politicians still do not understand Bastiat’s basic economic insight.

Mr. Green explains the Broken Window fallacy in his article and you can read it on Wikipedia. You can also go to my Amazon applet and buy Bastiat’s book. Destroying wealth can not possibly help the economy. If so, Hiroshima and Nagasaki owe us some money for the stimulus package we dropped on them in August of 1945. In a similar vein, the government can not create new jobs by taking resources away from other job producing entreprenuers.

He wraps it up with a good synopsis:

Obama’s “green jobs” plan would indeed create jobs, but it would do so by killing other jobs. Is that really the type of energy policy Americans want?

Obama’s policy idea is called Central Planning. History does not seem to show that this kind of activity works out very well. This is the same sort of make-work scheme that FDR employed to help the Great Depression needlessly drag on.

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