07 February 2009

Why the Stimulus is a Bad Idea

I may just be a simpleton from "fly over country" who sees this stimulus as an utter waste of money. Only about $100 billion is for true infrastructure. You might as well as throw the rest in the fire along with the TARP money. That’s trillions of dollars we will never see any benefit from and that my children will have to pay for now. Why is no one asking how this largesse will be paid for? They simply take it on face value that we need to rush headlong into unwisely spending nearly a trillion dollars. The same crap was pulled with TARP and the Patriot Act and look at where it got us. I am tired of the fear mongering. I thought that would be over when President Bush left office. However, President Obama obviously took a page out of Bush’s playbook and is using fear to get this travesty of a spending bill passed.

What will creating a massive spending government spending bubble actually do? The way I see it, once the money is spent the jobs go away. Government spending as a means to create jobs is not sustainable from my perspective, especially when you have to borrow that money in the first place. How does the stimulus provide long-term sustainable job growth, if at all? That is not change I can believe in.

A good number of jobs were created under during the Clinton Administration because there was innovation in the form of the internet boom. Innovation leads to positive job growth. Under the Bush Administration there were far fewer jobs created because there was no innovation behind the government’s deficit spending. The majority of the stimulus is deficit spending. Little in the stimulus package is geared towards innovation. Sure there is a portion directed to renewable energy and increasing broadband accessibility, but the vast majority of the $800+ billion package is directed to short-term jobs with absolutely no innovation.

The whole idea of getting back to where we were is ridiculous. It was all artificial in the first place. Just when we are finally coming to our senses after decades of spending like sailors in a whore house and now everyone wants to once again spend money no one has. Have we learned nothing? How can that possibly be a good idea when we have so much debt in the first place and we are nowhere close to addressing the long-term fiscal problems associated with social programs such as Medicare?

My gut tells me that this is a bad idea and we will regret it. I look at it and I shake my head because it seems common sense has left the building. You can quote all the economists you want, cite all the job creation numbers from one president to another, and compare it to Sweden or Japan, but ask yourself if you can truly make those apple to apple comparisons. Something tells me that the situation we are in is far worse, much deeper, and far more complex than any of those other situations. Throwing money at it is not necessarily the answer to every problem. Taking a step back and coming up with the right response is always better than merely responding quickly.

We need to feel some true pain. And an unemployment rate of 7.6% is not true pain (yes, those without a job would disagree, but let’s be realistic and look at historic jobless rates and we must also consider ourselves fortunate when looking at the state of the rest of world). All we are doing is providing temporary pain relief but not looking at the symptoms. We want to give aspirin when we may have to amputate a leg.

Please keep in mind I am no economist, I am just a simple civil/environmental engineer who has not knowingly cheated on his taxes so obviously I am not qualified to have made any of the comments above.

Photo by my daughter. Winter weather in Iowa.

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