Success of stimulus dubious
Letters to the Editor, August 1, 2012
Regarding the June 16 article “Fact check: Romney, Obama miss mark in Ohio speeches”: Although a strong conservative in financial matters, I place more importance on the elusive concept of “truth” than ideology. So I am attracted to any article or source claiming to “correct the record,” “check the facts,” etc. But it’s often hard to tell whether the checker possesses the expertise and objectivity to perform more reliably than the object of the check. It’s easier to tell if he doesn’t.
The article’s authors claim that Mitt Romney erred when he said: “That stimulus didn’t work. That stimulus didn’t put more private-sector people to work.”
First, President Barack Obama himself admitted — chuckling as if something of a joke — that there weren’t “as many shovel-ready projects” as he thought. Second, a “shovel-ready project” is, by definition, a temporary job that is gone when the money is gone unless, in fact, such projects really do stimulate the private sector to get going and keep going. We should have learned from the Great Depression that, despite the taxpayer-funded, make-work jobs of the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps, the Depression rolled on like “old man river.”
What’s that about insanity being to repeat the same thing and expect a different result? Yet progressives claim that the stimulus was simply not big enough. Talk about a flat learning curve. Makes me wonder how big it would have to be to have the progressives admit that it didn’t work.
I will concede that Romney should have said “create private-sector jobs” rather than “put more private-sector people to work” but the authors use the terms interchangeably. This merely reflects that the authors don’t see a difference. I certainly hope Romney does and is elected in November since, unfortunately, the vast majority of the media — as well as the current administration — don’t know the difference. Just because a government-funded project is accomplished by contract rather than “in-house” doesn’t make it a private-sector project. In the United States, the private sector is supposed to be a free-market economy, not “crony capitalism.”
Supposedly, the make-work temporary jobs did serve a useful purpose in that they shored up valuable infrastructure. I will assume — without evidence — that they did. The question remains whether such projects — which do not accomplish their attended purpose — are wise in the climate of a deep recession, a massive debt and massive budget deficit.
Try this: What can be afforded relates positively to income and negatively to debt. To fix the economy, we have to first know how to do it. Ignorance and failed ideology don’t cut it. You don’t hire someone to fix your patio when you have to borrow money to buy groceries.