This post is inspired by the joke of the year, the misnamed site Recovery.gov, the governmnet site showing where all our tax dollars poured into the "stimulus" bill have been
And then to top the mess of the site itself, there's the price per job so far ($230,000), the failure of the stimulus to actually help the people that need it the most, and the fun and pointless ways that this supposed job-growing economic stimulus mess wastes money ($219,000 for Syracuse University to study the sex lives of freshmen women for example (shit, I'd to that (and the freshmen women) for lots less)).
But the biggest laugh of them all. The fucking site has $18 million allocated to make it work!!! To put that in perspective, for four distinct email addresses and three active blogs, some of which have tracking info, as well as online document storage applications, I pay NOTHING. In fact, I theoretically make money with the ads on this blog. All because there are business models that allow us to get lots of software and webspace for the price of a little advertising. And in physical costs, all you need is the servers, some code writers, and some staff. And considering the timeframe, how can a relatively simple site cost $18,000,00.00 just for the redesign? If anybody out there has a clue how much it costs to create a site with similar content in the real world, let me know. That way I have a hard number to laugh at. Or even better, put the info out and let the people who sort through this shit do it.
All this, along with an upcoming "jobs bill" and the Obama "jobs summit" is bordering on ridiculous, if it wasn't for the fact that all this flurry to solve complex market problems was not complicated (actually worsened) by incessant government intervention with mindless free cash.
For example, one problem is rising unemployment. Part of this problem is that we keep paying people to be unemployed. I remember back in 2001 when I was on unemployment, with little of a pressing need to get another job (my circumstances were better at that point). When the unemployment was extended, I rode out the extension to the end, avoiding like the plague any temporary employment that would cut into my unemployment check. After all, since I paid into the system, I was going to get as much of that money back. I know of businesses that have used the unemployment system to get through slow periods (because their employees are still earning some money that way).
In the end, real employment is created when businesses have an incentive to hire people. The problem is that no one of consequence in Washington seems to know how to create any incentive that doesn't directly correlate to reelection votes. So here's the list of things that will immediately get the engine of capitalism humming again, and will eliminate the need for Obama to even waste our time with his jobs summit.
The FairTax (or related concepts) - The very simple concept is that taxing businesses and individuals with increasingly complicated and punitive taxes for economic success makes money and jobs and whole companies start looking to Communist China as a land of opportunity. And while I champion the all-inclusive solution of the FairTax, the principles that make it work are the key to dealing with the lack of motivation to create jobs in this country. After all, when reams of paperwork and tax info are required any time you hire someone, you don't want to do it until you have no choice. Instead, you dump more work on the people you have or use the temp agencies. This, by the way, is why unemployment is a lagging indicator in a recession.
The Pit of Debt Despair - Along with fixing the obsessive need to tax everything in existence and everyone into "equality," much of our current mess is the result of an overaccumulation of debt, in both the private and government sectors. While individuals will use debt to extend their buying power, business often will leverage a certain amount of debt to allow for operations even in tougher times, and governmnet has the ability to use debt in times of need (like wars and crises) to deal with situations, the chronic reliance on debt saps the ability to use money efficiently, and simply eats up value that could use to expand, and hire in the process.
Mandate Paranoia - Government mandates (like employer-provided health care (with penalties for not providing it) for example) are instant job killers. Very simply, when legislation is working its way through Congress that is going to add to expenses, and companies are on a tight margin, why would they want to invest in employees that could suddenly cost a whole lot more with no added value? The idea of adding profit-killing mandates at a time when job growth is a priority is simply dumb, whether the concept is good or not (my example is not a good concept, but even if it was, it's still another expense at a time when more expenses mean fewer jobs).
Sustainable Jobs - Government can't create them. Period. Let me clarify what a sustainable job is. A sustainable job is something that produces something of value, which produces income, and therefore pays for itself. Private industry creates these jobs in the pursuit of profit. The things I have listed above are things that eat away at this profit without adding any real value. And most of these are caused by government. Contrast that with Government, which creates jobs by taking money from the private sector. By and large, those jobs don't add any value to the economy or infrastructure, and are usually the most inefficient uses of money that could otherwise be adding value. At best, government purchases things from the private sector that leads to added value. And "stimulus" money too often artificially stimulates jobs that would not exist otherwise, until that money goes away. Then it's pink slip time.
In the end, the manufactured "created or saved" numbers mean dick, as some may be jobs that would have come about anyway, some are bullshit numbers required to get fed cash, some are funded jobs (aka governmnet-by-proxy make-work funded jobs) that will die with the funding, and some may actually have been created or saved (at a cost of at least ten times the annual salary per job). And in the end, as long as we keep looking to the government to "fix" the economy, the longer we'll languish. After all, we have the legacy of government intervention by Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt to look at to see how an economic crash can last a decade.
Finally, and somewhat related to the post, here's a post I found in my research entitled Fun With Numbers! It's worth a read, but it didn't fit exactly in what I was trying to point out.