Porkulus!

I wouldn’t claim to be any expert on economics, but in my view the pork-filled stimulus package the Obamacrats are trying to shove down the line smells rotten.

Under the guise of “emergency” – exactly what they accused Bush of using to go to war, which, as it turns out, cost far less than this bill – they are trying to pass a liberal wishlist of projects and programs that have nothing to do with economic growth.

The fact is, if your annual income is over $9,000 this money is coming straight out of YOUR pocket. So let’s take a look at a few of the things you’re paying for, and lets keep in mind 2 questions: 1) Does this create immediate jobs? 2) Will this encourage people to spend? 3) Does the government have any business giving money to this company/industry/individual? (Remember, there are always strings attached)

  • $16 billion to repair public housing and make key energy efficiency retrofits.
  • $6 billion to weatherize modest-income homes.
  • $6 billion for higher education modernization.
  • $31 billion to modernize federal and other public infrastructure with investments that lead to long term energy cost savings;
  • $20 billion for health information technology to prevent medical mistakes, provide better care to patients and introduce cost-saving efficiencies.
  • $2.4 billion for carbon capture and sequestration technology demonstration projects.
  • $650 million to continue the coupon program to enable American households to convert from analog television transmission to digital transmission.
  • $15.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500, from $4,850 to $5,350.
  • $600 million to address shortages and prepare our country for universal healthcare by training primary healthcare providers
  • Neighborhood Stabilization: $4.2 billion to help communities purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed, vacant properties in order to create more affordable housing and reduce neighborhood blight.
  • $20 billion to provide nutrition assistance to modest-income families and to lift restrictions that limit the amount of time individuals can receive food stamps.
  • Child Support Enforcement: $1 billion to provide federal incentive funds for states to collect support owed to families.
  • $400 million to help state and local governments purchase efficient
    alternative fuel vehicles
    to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions.

And I’d like to have a laptop so I can be productive when I’m away from home or work. A brand new hybrid car would probably be more energy efficient. And I’m sure my wife would love a home with a big back yard so she can do some gardening and we can grow our own food! Yeah, these things sound “nice” but what does any of this have to do with immediate and substantial economic stimulation? It seems to me that the majority of this bill is about energy efficiency, low-income charity and education. None of these provide immediate payoffs, and in the case of the last two, history has proven that throwing money at people won’t make them work any harder or get any smarter. There will be a small number of success stories, but as far as I’m concerned, those people would’ve made it anyway.

There are a couple of good ideas in the bill:

  • $100 million for grants to faith- and community-based organizations to provide critical safety net services to needy individuals and families.
  • $30 billion for highway and bridge construction projects.
  • $490 million to support undergraduate and graduate students who work, through the work-study program.

While I don’t see charity as the most effective form of economic stimulation, at least they’re putting money into the hands of people who are actually working on-on-one with individuals in their communities. This cuts out the bureaucracy and allows small charities to do what they’re already doing – better. You’re much likely to get more bang for your buck that way. But if you notice, there’s only $100 million going there – a tiny drop in the pork bucket.

On highways and bridges, there are tons of “shovel-ready” projects out there that cities simply lack the funds for. Traffic congestion wastes time, money, and gas – this would be a quick and easy place to put people to work and see instant benefits.

Work-study is a win-win plan. Students get a flexible job on campus, and the college gets to hire for low-skill jobs at a low rate. Not only are you helping the college put their money where it belongs, you are also rewarding students who are willing to work.

So there are a few examples of reasonable “stimulus” that will put people to work and provide instant rewards. But there are many economists who are saying the best thing we can do is nothing.

Economist Robert Higgs, writing for the Christian Science Monitor, says:

As recently as the major recession of 1920-21, the government took a hands-off position, and the downturn, though sharp, quickly reversed itself into full recovery. In contrast, Hoover responded to the downturn of 1929 by raising tariffs, propping up wage rates, bailing out farmers, banks, and other businesses, and financing state relief efforts. Roosevelt moved even more vigorously in the same activist direction, and the outcome was a protracted period of depression (and wartime privation) from which complete recovery did not come until 1946.

 

It’s a point worth noting, though I don’t particularly agree. I believe we should do something – but it should be much smaller, and it should put resources in the hands of people who will put that money to work. Instead, we are shoveling billions of dollars to middle and low-income individuals and families to payback the Democrat’s voter base and create the illusion that they’re representing “the average American”. That’s not stimulus, that’s politics, disguised as charity.

The sickening part of this all is that most congressmen haven’t even read the bill – the largest piece of legislation in the history of our congress. The most recent version is over 1,000 pages long, and they were set to vote on it within 24 hours of having received it. Insanity! And how long did it take to write it? Probably not long if they simply asked every liberal interest group to write down what piece of the pie they wanted – which is what it looks like to me. 

We’ll be paying on this “investment” for years. If it works Obama will be the hero and the Republicans, having only 3 congressmen who voted yes, will be silenced. I will have been proven wrong, as well as all conservative thinkers, writers and radio hosts. It will be the end of conservatism as we know it.

But that won’t happen. It won’t work. Instead, we will have spent a trillion dollars without seeing any significant improvement, and Obama will be seen as a failure. But people will still make up reasons why it failed and 20 years from now people will once again be calling for government help. How quickly we forget when we want something. FDR expanded government and spending to fight unemployment, LBJ expanded government and spending to fight poverty, and Carter expanded government and spending to fight problems in education. For all of this work, money, and loss of liberty all we have to show for it is a society that is utterly dependent on the federal government. 

It has to stop.

An unknown author once penned this quote:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.” 

 

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UPDATE:

Byron York, Chief political correspondent to the D.C. Examiner wrote an excellent article on why Obama’s “emergency” bill sat on his desk for four days before signing it.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. This economic crisis is going to go on for several years. So, it only makes sense to use the money we need to spend to invest in our future. Most of the things you reference, especially the health care and energy expenses, are great long-term investments for America. While they may not have the best possible return now they will, for decades to come, save our nation money. Since most of us agree that the government needs to spend a large pile of money to try and get the economy going, shouldn’t we make sure that we’re spending to make long-term improvements? After all, it is future generations that are going to be paying the bill.

    Now, before I go I would like to ask you what your proposal is to get us out of this mess. It’s really easy to find things in a massive bill that do not make sense and scream about them for weeks, but that does nothing to get us going again.

  2. I am certainly not an economist or political prodigy either, but I do have a bit of common sense that helps me to notice things that don’t quite add up.

    I would ask you, Mr. Simeone, to first provide some measurable evidence that most of “us” believe that the government needs to spend money to get the economy going again. Mr. Gant provided one or two external sources to back up his argument – I believe anyone who posts a reply owes him the same duty.

    I don’t pretend to have any answers to solve this problem, but throwing money at the problem seems to have been tried before and all we ask the government to do is more throwing. In any endeavor one makes, there may come a time when they realize that what they are doing is not producing the desired results. At that time it is necessary to rethink the approach and try something else. I do not know what we need to try now, but the government spending has never fully accomplished its goals in the past. Maybe America has reached the point in her endeavor to rethink her approach.

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