Democrats gloating about the end of “job lock,” hide the reality of “poverty lock” and “job loss”

Unemployment LineWhen the CBO announced that Obamacare was going to have a deleterious impact on jobs over the next few years (as in 2.5 million fewer people in the work force), those opposed to Obamacare not unnaturally glommed on to those numbers as proof that Obamacare is an economic disaster.  After a moment of stunned silence, however, Democrats came roaring back with celebratory paeans to the end of “job lock.” James Taranto helpfully rounded up some good examples, beginning with Paul Krugman:

In his New York Times column today, former Enron adviser Paul Krugman cheers the news that ObamaCare subsidies are expected to have a greater-than-expected disincentive effect on work:

On Wednesday, Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, said the obvious: losing your job and choosing to work less aren’t the same thing. If you lose your job, you suffer immense personal and financial hardship. If, on the other hand, you choose to work less and spend more time with your family, “we don’t sympathize. We say congratulations.”

And now you know everything you need to know about the latest falsehood in the ever-mendacious campaign against health reform.

Although it was charitable of Krugman to warn readers off the rest of his column, those who heeded his admonition not to read on missed his amusingly worded nod in the general direction of reality: “More subtly, the incentive to work will be somewhat reduced by health insurance subsidies that fall as your income rises.”

Krugman, of course, was not alone.  He was just the most obnoxious voice in the rising Leftist chorus chanting “Hallelujah!  Job lock is over!”  James Taranto again:

E.J. Dionne, Washington Post: “Oh my God, say opponents of the ACA, here is the government encouraging sloth! That’s true only if you wish to take away the choices the law gives that 64-year-old or to those moms and dads looking for more time to care for their children. Many on the right love family values until they are taken seriously enough to involve giving parents/workers more control over their lives.”

Ron Fournier, National Journal: “The GOP has seized on CBO’s conclusion that the equivalent of more than 2 million Americans would use Obamacare subsidies to leave the workforce. No longer tied to jobs merely to cling to health insurance, some people will retire early, work part time, start a business, or spend more time with their families.”

Eric Boehlert, MediaMutters (on Twitter): “CBO: Obamacare will give workers more choices; some workers might chose [sic] to work less to spend more time w/ families….RW condemns as awful?” (Beats us what radiological warfare has to do with anything.)

Salon’s Alex Pareene is so excited, he wants to expand the welfare state even more: “Universal income and healthcare won’t create a Marxist (or even Keynesian) utopia of leisure. . . . But it’d give people the ability to spend more time with their families, to enrich themselves, to get educated, and even to just [futz] around a little more.”

Taranto goes on to note that, before the above spinning began, “leaving to spend more time with the family” was almost invariably a Washington, D.C., euphemism for “been fired” or “about to be arrested/indicted.”

Behind the puff and spin, though, as is often the case with Democrat pronouncements, lurk the lies and misinformation.  Two examples struck me.

First, regarding “job block,” this is a concept that’s been floating around for quite a while now.  Back in 2012, when Nancy Pelosi enthused about becoming a “whatever,” “job lock” referred to situations in which people with preexisting conditions were trapped in terrible jobs because they couldn’t risk leaving their employer-provided insurance policy behind.  Many people, of all political stripes, recognized that this was a problem.  (Republicans suggested fixes such as high risk pools or the ability to buy cheaper coverage across state lines.)

What the Democrats are so excitedly celebrating here is a new type of job lock, one that applies, not to people with preexisting health conditions but, instead, one that applies to people with preexisting low-paying jobs.  Why?  Because thanks to Obamacare, a large cadre of people suddenly cannot afford to move up professionally.  They cannot afford to look for a better paying job.  Heck!  They can’t even afford to get a pay raise.  After all, if they’re one of the unlucky ones, moving up by the wrong dollar will cost them $20,000.00.

Thinking about it, rather than saying that people are “job locked” under Obamacare, it’s more accurate to say that they’re “poverty locked.”  While they can’t move up economically that’s to the $20,000 penalty for doing so, they can move down:  they can take a series of low-paying jobs or, if they really want to, just leave the work force entirely.  After all, that’s already what several million people have done in the Age of Obama.

The other Democrat lie is the implication that this thrilling “no job-lock status quo” can last indefinitely.  In fact, the subsidies that people to have health insurance while holding low-paying jobs or being unemployed come about because other people are generating wealth that the government can take and redistribute.  However, as more and more people find that creating taxable wealth for themselves is a counterproductive proposition (earn a dollar more in pay, pay $20,000 more for insurance), fewer people will be earning the kind of salaries that will fund all the subsidies.  This is the perfect illustration of the Thatcher dictum — i.e., that socialism is wonderful until you run out of other people’s money.

The Democrats can spin the CBO’s prediction as much as they like, but the sorry fact is that it creates poverty-lock or job-loss, and that’s both personally demoralizing and economically unsustainable.  In the end, people will find that they’ve gotten more than they bargained for.  Not only will they be poverty-locked and job-lost, they’ll also be uninsured.

Will Obamacare see America replicate Britain’s early 20th Century slide into irrelevancy?

Victorian women in EnglandWhen I was at UC Berkeley, I had two good professors from whom I actually learned something.  One of them was Sheldon Rothblatt, who then taught a class covering England from the Industrial Revolution to the dawn of World War I.  He was a delightful teacher, able to infuse life and color into what would have been, in less skilled hands, a drab recital of capitalist oppression and Marxist struggles.

Looking back, I realize that Professor Rothblatt, unlike the usual Marxist cohort in Cal’s history department, viewed people as individuals with wants and desires, rather than as mere cogs in an endless struggle between oppressed masses and oppressive upper classes.  Prof. Rothblatt’s recognition that individuals count may go a long way to explaining the answer he gave when someone asked why the Industrial Revolution was petering out in England at the beginning of the 20th Century while, in America, it kept roaring on.

If I remember correctly, Prof. Rothblatt said that the end of the Industrial Revolution in England lay with the working classes.  The problem wasn’t that they were too oppressed.  Instead, between the downward pressure from the class system (“an Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him“), and the rising level of (comparative) luxury brought about by the Industrial Revolution, working-class Englishmen simply stopped trying very hard.  They knew that, no matter the effort they put in, they wouldn’t be able to break through the class ceiling.  Additionally, provided that they weren’t living in abysmal poverty, they had more creature comforts than they could ever have imagined.  So why work?

In America at the beginning of the 20th Century, things were different.  The working classes knew that, with effort, they could rise up and their children could rise up even more.  Heck, John D. Rockefeller went from a very shabby childhood to being one of the richest men in the world.  Andrew Carnegie, the son of a Scottish weaver, did the same.  While most wouldn’t reach those rarefied heights, there was no doubt that, with hard work, geographic mobility, and America’s open class system, a man or a woman, or that man’s or woman’s descendents, could realistically attain middle class or even wealthy status.  In addition, as the original poor gained economically because of the Industrial Revolution, thereby leaving the working class behind, there was a constant influx of (legal) immigrants to provide fresh, hope-filled labor for the factory floor.  Yes, many people fell by the wayside, but even more people ascended American society’s ranks — and that was itself an incentive for continued effort.

America has changed dramatically since then in three very significant ways.  First, we’ve lost our geographic mobility.  I know that sounds funny in a day and age of trains, planes, and automobiles, but it’s true.  We are heavily weighed down by both tangible and intangible assets.  If my husband were to lose his job (God forbid!), and if there were no employment prospects here, moving to find work would be reasonable.  Nevertheless, we would find it incredibly difficult to move.  Every room in our house is crammed with stuff that would have to be sorted, sold, packed, and transported and then, at the other end, we’d have to unpack, re-sort, and probably sell some more.  Unlike people in days of old, who might have had only a few clothes, a Bible, and a cook pot, we have four computers (one for each of us), hundreds of clothes (between the four of us), thousands of books (mostly mine), televisions, kitchen gadgets, appliances, dishes and cookware, cleaning supplies, furniture (too much, since my husband can’t bear to part with old when we buy new), family photographs, art work, knick-knacks — and that’s probably only a partial inventory of the tangible clutter that is a modern life.

A move also requires transporting our intangibles.  We have to engage in the tiresome task of changing our bank accounts.  In the old days, you’d just deposit or withdraw money.  Now the paperwork of setting up a new account to comply with the bank’s requirements, the state’s requirements, and the fed’s requirements can take hours.  We have to sever all our ties to cable companies, phone companies, and utilities, and then recreate new ties at our destination.  We need to change our address with credit card companies and make sure that Amazon ships more clutter to our new address not our old.  As I remember from my last move, it was almost a year before I’d managed to transfer every bit of data from my old address to my new one.

Second, illegal immigration means that our new crop of workers remain as perpetual bottom feeders, stultifying America’s former dynamic of moving from the bottom of the heap up to the middle or beyond.  We give the illegals marginal jobs, welfare, and food stamps, but they are, as their community organizers like to say, stuck in the shadows, something that severely limits upward mobility.  The appropriate course of action for our nation to take, of course, isn’t to grant amnesty, which is an invitation to yet another large batch of economically stultifying illegal shadow workers.  It is, instead, to shut down our borders, deny welfare to illegal immigrants and education to their children, put pressure on companies that employ them, and watch them self-deport.  Meanwhile, if we do indeed need all these workers, we should dramatically boost our legal immigrant quota and enable more people to come here freely and work openly.

Third, and most significantly, we’ve now got Obamacare, which acts as a disincentive to hard work.  John Podhoretz neatly summarizes the key points of the CBO’s most recent report about Obamacare’s effect on employment:

If that’s not startling enough [that the number of uninsured will stay the same or even rise, there’s also the telling projection about ObamaCare’s impact on employment — “a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.”

Overall employment will rise, the report says, but not steady, secure, long-term assured employment. The possibility of securing government-provided health-care without employment will give people a new incentive to avoid it. “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply,” the report says.

Indeed, overall, between 2017 and 2024, the actual amount of work done in this country will decline by as much as 2 percent.

How come? Because of perverse incentives ObamaCare provides in the form of subsidies to some and higher taxes to others.

First, the report says Americans will “choose to supply less labor — given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive.”

Here’s why: Poor people get certain subsidies, which disappear once a worker achieves a certain level of compensation. So it may be better to work less, or not work at all, rather than reach that higher pay level, because the pay increase won’t offset the loss of the subsidy.

For those at the bottom economically who once had dreams of “movin’ on up,” Obama has placed insuperable hurdles in their way:  any incremental increase in wages from working longer hours or at a more demanding (but better paying) job will be offset by a dramatic increase in healthcare costs, resulting in either more work for less money or more work for the same money — neither of which is an appealing option.  Only those workers who are able to make the unlikely leap from poor to rich overnight will be able to bypass this barrier without suffering.

What all this means is that the modern American worker is now situated in the same way as the late 19th century English worker:  Where the English worker knew that the class barrier meant that harder work wouldn’t see him rewarded for his effort, the modern American knows that the Obamacare barrier means that harder work will not see him rewarded for his effort.  Where the English worker was frozen geographically because there were no better alternatives elsewhere (that class thing again), the American worker is likewise frozen, both because Obamacare’s perverse incentives apply everywhere and because moving is just too gosh darn difficult.

Lastly, just as that long-ago English worker had reached a level of comfort that made him willing to accept class and geographic limitations, so too has the American worker reached a fairly comfortable dead end.  He’s certainly not living lavishly.  However, thanks to Obamacare, unemployment, food stamps, and welfare, he’s getting an endless vacation.  He may not be basking on a Tahitian beach, taking in Broadway shows, or touring Europe’s cities, but he’s surfing the internet, talking to friends on his smart phone, and getting high scores on Call of Duty, all while receiving a bi-monthly check from both state and federal governments.  And when this sedentary lifestyle starts to have consequences — everything from carpal tunnel syndrome to life-threatening blood clots — he knows he’ll get free medical care that’s every bit as good as the Cuban medical care that multi-millionaire communist Michael Moore has raved about.

Some of you might be shaking your heads and saying “But no one would want to live that way.  It’s a squalid, marginal lifestyle.”  Well, as I’ve written here before, there are a lot of people who think it a fine way to live.  At the very least, it sure beats working.  For these people, the journey from a poorly paid job to permanent welfare is a much easier trip, both practically and economically, than working harder to make more money, only to see the extra wages vanish into the endless maw that is Obamacare.

While walking the dogs this morning, I listened to Mark Steyn, who was guest-hosting for Rush Limbaugh.  He pointed out that the real sin of welfare isn’t wasted money but is, instead, wasted humans.  As Betty Friedan (of all people) said in a talk I heard 20 or so years ago, there are three ingredients to a quality old age:  strong family ties, strong community ties, and work (i.e., a reason to get home in the morning).  Much as we humans like to do nothing, the fact is that the Victorians were right when they sagely opined that “idle hands are the Devil’s playground.”  Given too much free time, which is what’s about to happen to vast numbers of Americans thanks to Obamacare’s negative incentives, idle hands create tremendous societal wounds as people, rendered meaningless, engaging in destructive or self-destructive behavior.

Many people looking back at the early 20th Century think that World War I and World War II (followed by the loss of India) destroyed England.  They didn’t.  Those earthshaking events were actually the exclamation points on a society that had already run dry by 1914.  Once a society stops striving, it starts dying.  It happened there and, unless we can put the brakes on the slippery slope we’re now sliding down, it will happen here.

 

An insight into Progressive beliefs about how voters’ minds work

John Hinderaker caught a very funny statement from Jen Psaki, who is one of the president’s official spokesmen. She was responding to a reporter’s question regarding the fact that PBS asked the Democrats to take down an add using Big Bird (emphasis mine):

We have received that request [from PBS]. We’re reviewing it. I will say it doesn’t change the fact that there’s only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane.

You can just see the great minds of the Democrat party meeting to put together a checklist of ordinary voter concerns that they should be addressing.

Meeting Chairman:  Okay, folks.  It’s time to get to work.  With the president having tanked in his first debate, and the very real risk that Joe will implode in his only debate, we’ve got to get the president ready to talk about things that really matter to the American people.  I’m going to open the floor to suggestions:

Twenty-something young man:  Uh, what about young people’s concern about the deficit that they’ll have to pay for?

Chairman:  Not going to happen, We know they’re not thinking about that.  They just want sex, booze, and subsidies.  We’ve already tapped Hollywood to remind the demographic that the President is cool, and that he’s got their backs.

Thirty-something young woman:  The President needs to tell womyn that he’ll make sure that they get free birth control and abortions, as well as unrestricted access to tampons (which should be free too).

Chairman:  Again, not going to happen, Sandra.  Our internal polling shows that the Independents aren’t buying that argument.  Anyway, women know that Obama has got their back, and we’ve had Hollywood double down on its “Republicans will legalize rape” claims.

Black woman:  Should we talk about the fact that blacks are disproportionately affected by unemployment?

Chairman:  Our campaign funds and air time are too limited to do messaging on the way the President’s policies are good for African Americans.  American blacks know that Obama’s got their backs,  He’ll make sure that the government always supports them.

Jewish Guy:  Isn’t it time that the President made a strong statement about Israel?

Chairman:  We’ve polled that one, Shlmo, and it’s going nowhere in this election.  Let’s let sleeping dogs lie.

Palestinian Guy:  The president must talk about the continued slaughter and rape of the Palestinian people.

Chairman:  Calm down, Achmed.  We don’t need to do a strong message on this, because our base knows that the President has the Palestinian people’s backs.

Sex-changed gay transvestite:  I have two words:  Gay Marriage.

Chairman:  The president’s still evolving on that one until after the election, Pat.  Don’t worry.  You guys, gals and indeterminates know that the president has your backs.

Lone WASP guy:  What about the murdered ambassador in Libya, the head of security killed in Yemen yesterday, and all the other signs that al Qaeda is coming back?

Chairman:  Come on, Charlie.  The president has already explained that these are just highly critical movie reviews that got out of hand.  The public doesn’t need to hear more.  Al Qaeda knows that the President’s got its back.  Uh, misspoke there, Dude.  I meant that the American people and the American military know that the President’s got their backs.

Five year old attending meeting because she’s got a cold and her mom is still breast-feeding her:  Mommy, Mommy! I want my Tickle Me Elmo doll!!!

Chairman:  That’s it. Elmo!  Big Bird!  Protecting those icons from Republican attacks is the one thing we need to do in order galvanize those Independent voters.  It’s Mom, Apple Pie, Elmo and Big Bird.  Okay, folks!  Here’s the official line:  President Obama, Defender of Sesame Street!

 

Quick links for Saturday afternoon

My mother is miserable.  With her, it’s always a chicken and egg thing, as we struggle to figure out if her mental misery causes her physical symptoms or vice versa.  This question actually matters because, if there’s a genuine health problem, medical care can perhaps alleviate her misery but, if her suffering is psychosomatic (real symptoms, but triggered by stress and anxiety, rather than a treatable physical problem), there’s really nothing to do.  Still, I’m heading over because she’s unhappy and she likes to see me.

Before I got, let me share with you all the tabs I have open.

Michael Yon is fueling a debate about Medevac helicopters.  I’m currently inclined to Blackfive’s view, which is that the current approach is sensible and is the best that can be done in battle conditions.  Do you have a take on this?

Don Quixote and I often talk about the lies, damn lies, and statistics, that fill the news.  When I point to this chart, he points to this chart and then points out that an aging population inevitably has a shrinking workforce, and that job numbers are climbing, and that conservatives have to deal with this reality in the lead-up to the November election.  Don Quixote wants conservatives to win; he just thinks they harm themselves if they live in a factual bubble.  I’ll admit that statistics fill me (and most people) with horror.  There is one number, though, that is inarguable and that may help ring down the curtain on the Obama administration, and that’s gas prices.  When both the ultra liberal San Francisco Comical and the more liberal Marin Independent Journal feel compelled to note the highest gas prices ever, people might figure out that something isn’t right in the economy.  The only question is whether they blame two years of a Republican House, or six years of a Democrat Congress, two of which included a Democrat White House too.

And lastly, before I run, read this and tell me what the heck kind of a nation we’ve become?  It’s stories such as this one that make me feel we deserve our downward slide.

Oh, one more thing:  Progressives are painting Santorum as Satan incarnate because he speaks openly about God and opines about social issues (although he gives no indication that he is going to use the federal government to create the Christian version of a Sharia state).  Mr. Bookworm, who is my go-to guy for finding out what liberals are thinking, says “I could never vote for him.”  But here’s the dirty little secret — If Romney is the frontrunner, Mr. Bookworm will say precisely the same thing, because Romney’s Mormon or because Romney is a wooden speaker or because Romney is rich.  For the diehards, it’s always something.  Trying to pick a conservative candidate who will appeal to the Mr. Bookworm’s of the world is pointless.  The same holds true when it comes to trying to pick a conservative candidate for the independents.  The Progressives will always find a way to twist and slime the Republican candidate in order to strike fear into the heart of average voters who aren’t paying close attention.  All we conservatives can do is pick a candidate who will be a good conservative leader and then hope that Americans will focus on the important issues such as the economy and national security.

Newt Gingrich, poor children, and work habits

One of the reasons a lot of people, myself included, like Newt is because he says politically incorrect things that ordinary people think.  In other words, his politically correct utterances aren’t out of the KKK playbook, they’re out of “the reasonable common-sense before 1960s Leftist education took over” playbook.

A week ago, he said that child labor laws are stupid insofar as they prevent children from getting paying jobs (including janitorial jobs) that would help them to maintain their own schools — at less cost, incidentally, than using unionized janitors.  His most recent utterance, expanding on this point, was that poor children have no work ethic:

“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed.

“They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal,” he added.

All the usual suspects are up in arms.  I haven’t bothered to hunt down quotations from the unions that keep schools supplied with janitors, but I’m sure they’re not happy.  More than that, though, Newt’s statements have been interpreted to mean that he advocates a return to 19th Century child labor, complete with seven-day work weeks, 12 of which are spent laboring in a coal mine.  Take a gander, for example, at this screen shot from YouTube after I searched up “Newt Gingrich poor children”:

Charles Blowhard, New York Times opinion columnist, is horrified that Newt might look at the way in which the poor behave and conclude that their learned behavior contributes to their poverty.  He also comes back with reams of statistics about the fact that the poor do work:

This statement isn’t only cruel and, broadly speaking, incorrect, it’s mind-numbingly tone-deaf at a time when poverty is rising in this country. He comes across as a callous Dickensian character in his attitude toward America’s most vulnerable — our poor children. This is the kind of statement that shines light on the soul of a man and shows how dark it is.

Gingrich wants to start with the facts? O.K.

First, as I’ve pointed out before, three out of four poor working-aged adults — ages 18 to 64 — work. Half of them have full-time jobs and a quarter work part time.

Furthermore, according to an analysis of census data by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College, most poor children live in a household where at least one parent is employed. And even among children who live in extreme poverty — defined here as a household with income less than 50 percent of the poverty level — a third have at least one working parent. And even among extremely poor children who live in extremely poor areas — those in which 30 percent or more of the population is poor — nearly a third live with at least one working parent.

I’ll accept as true the fact that the poor work, but that’s too facile.  We also need to look at their attitude towards work.  As Shakespeare would say, there’s the rub.  Let me quote from a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, describing the way in which a white liberal tried desperately to explain away the fact that large corporations find it extremely difficult to keep minority employees:

Mr. Bookworm works for a very large corporation.  While we were in the car with the kids, the conversation turned to the exquisite sensitivity the corporation has to show when it’s faced with firing a minority employee. The process is arduous, requiring huge HR involvement, dozens of staff interviews and a lengthy paper trail.

The reason for this labor intensive firing is the unfortunate fact that minorities tend to be less satisfactory employees. As Mr. Bookworm was at great pains to point out to the children (and correctly so), this is a group trend and has nothing to do with the merits of any individual minority employee. It’s just that, if you look at a bell curve of minority employees versus a bell curve of white employees, you’ll find more white employees than minority employees in the segment denoting “good worker.” No modern corporation, however, wants a reputation as a “firer of minorities.”

The above are facts. What fascinated me was the different spin Mr. Bookworm and I put on those facts. Mr. Bookworm sent twenty minutes explaining to the children that, to the extent blacks were poorer employees, it was because their culture made them incapable of working. (This was not meant as an insult. He was talking, of course, about the culture of poverty.).

Mr. Bookworm painted a picture of a black child living in a ghetto, with a single mother who gave birth to him when she was 14, with several siblings from different fathers, with a terrible school, surrounded by illiterates, hungry all the time, etc.  No wonder, he said, that this child doesn’t bring to a corporation the same work ethic as a middle class white kid.

This creates big problems for corporations.  A modern corporation truly wants to hire minorities.  Once it’s hired them, though, according to my liberal husband, it ends up with workers who are incapable of functioning in a white collar, corporate environment. The corporation therefore finds itself forced to fire it’s minority hires more frequently than white or Asian employees, with the result that it’s accused of racism. Its response to that accusation is to proceed with excessive caution and extreme due diligence whenever a black employee fails at the job.

My suggestion to the children was that minority employees, aware that it’s almost impossible to fire them, might be disinclined to put out their best efforts on the job.  Why should they?  Logic and energy conservation both dictate that a smart person should do the bare minimum to get a job done.  In this case, for the black employees, the job their doing isn’t what’s in the job description.  Instead, their job is simply to keep their job.

Amusingly Newt thinks exactly the same as my liberal husband does.  They both blame black culture for poor black employment habits.  The difference is that, while Newt thinks it’s a fixable situation, starting with the children and their attitude toward labor, my husband, like Mr. Blowhard, thinks that all one can do is accept that minorities are going to be lousy employees.

America’s black poverty culture (as opposed to the Asian or East Indian) poverty culture is handicapped by a terrible, false syllogism:

  • Slavery was work
  • Slavery is evil
  • All work is evil

Even when they’re getting paid, too many African-Americans seem to feel they’ve sold out — that any work involving the white establishment is tantamount to slavery and that they can participate in this system by participating least.   It’s a principled stand, but it’s a principle that’s in thrall to terribly flawed logic and that ensures generational poverty and despair.  As far as I’m concerned, Newt gets serious kudos for his willingness to state what is, to the working class, quite obvious:  learn how to work well when you’re young, and you’ll be able to support yourself when you’re old.

In SF Bay Area, stimulous creates 7 jobs at a cost of $16,142,857 per job — sort of

The Chronicle was always first in line for the Obama slobber fest, but the bloom is apparently wearing off of that well-drooled upon rose too.  Today, the Chron has a front page story vigorously attack the myriad accounting errors on the administration’s boastful website about its economic chops:

Nine months after President Obama promised that his $789 billion stimulus package would be the most transparent spending bill in history, much of the information available to the public for the Bay Area and the rest of the nation is incomplete or inaccurate.

The White House’s Recovery Act Web site – www.recovery.gov – shows that $660 million has been awarded to Bay Area transportation projects to create 997 jobs, which amounts to a staggering $661,986 per job.

Last week, the site showed that California Congressional Districts 00 and 99 received millions of dollars in stimulus funding even though neither district exists.

The Bay Area’s total also included $1.8 million to purchase buses in Duluth, Minn., which the federal Web site pinpointed with a dot just below San Leandro, and $4.8 million for road work in Laredo – which is in Texas.

[snip]

A month ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to the White House and stood beside Vice President Joe Biden as Biden proclaimed that the stimulus had created 110,000 jobs in the state.

But it would take hundreds of clicks on the interactive map to verify the claim, and even then there is no accounting for the quality or duration of the jobs.

[snip]

However, a $65 million BART “tunnel hardening” project and a $48 million grant to the Santa Clara County Transportation Authority have so far created only seven jobs. State officials said that is probably because the money has been awarded but not yet spent.

Overall, the White House claims the stimulus is creating far more jobs than it had expected. The initial estimate was that 396,000 jobs would be created in California. The White House says 110,000 jobs have already been created although only a fraction of the stimulus dollars have yet to reach the state.

Job numbers are squishy, and there is disagreement over what should count. The White House counts not only new jobs but also those that might otherwise have been lost. They also include short-term employment in their totals.

Read the rest here.

Apropos the highlighted language above, I’m no math whiz, but I’m calculating that this means the American taxpayers are on the hook for $16,142,857 per job over the last nine months.

I’m not a fool, and I’m not being intentionally naive here.  I appreciate that, as the article itself says, the jobs may yet be created because the projects are still theoretical, not real.  I’m also willing to concede that the projects may be good ones, and that people currently employed may have stayed employed as a result of the project awards.  Nevertheless, the fact remains that Obama promised us that his stimulous would immediately save and create jobs.  The key was immediate relief, not long-term relief.  And yet here we are with $113 million promised — meaning $113 million ear marked in the public coffers and needing to be paid for by taxes — AND NO JOBS.

This is a perfect paradigm of the problem with government works programs.  They are too slow.  Had Obama taken a leaf out of Bush’s 2001 tax refund plan, and instantly gotten money into the hands of American citizens, people would quickly have created jobs.  The market is enormously responsive; the government is not.  All we get are higher taxes, more government control — AND NO JOBS.

Oh, about those jobs saved? It’s not true.

“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” — Abraham Lincoln

Obama lies, and lies, and lies again. Sometimes he lies directly, and sometimes he lies by having his administration make a formal announcement. AJ Strata decimates the administration’s lie about “jobs saved or created.”

Random, and probably silly, thought about unemployment

In the old days, when work dried up in one geographic area, unemployed people migrated, often with tremendous difficulty, to another area.  Think of the great Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, or the enormous Black movement from South to North during the Jim Crow years.  People, being adaptable, followed the jobs.

What strikes me as interesting — a thought that was trigged by today’s news that California’s jobless rate hit 8.2% — is the fact that no one expects people to follow jobs anymore.  While individuals may certainly make the decision to move, the prevailing paradigm is that people stay put while the government funnels money and (everyone hopes) creates jobs for them where they sit.  That’s a huge change from historic norms.

By the way, California’s jobless rate would be better if it wasn’t the most inhospitable state in America for business.  Businesses are taxed to death here, regulated to death here, and treated horribly and unfairly in any dispute with employees.  There is little incentive to fight for a business here.  While the workers stay put, hoping for handouts, the businesses, which are run by entrepeneurs, tend to be the ones to pack up and move to more favorable climes.