Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sherrod Brown's 'stuck-on-stupid' economics

In yesterday's Washington Post, our Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown said:

“Everybody knows that government creates jobs.”

I kid you not.

He continued:

“Government creates jobs in highways. We hire private contractors. That creates other jobs. It builds an economic foundation for job creation.

“During the fifties, the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the United States had great infrastructure programs. We were the envy of the world. Those are clear formulaic job creating strategies that we know.”

Can you say 'stuck-on-stupid'?

To be fair, he is technically correct that government spending can create temporary jobs - but he fails a basic economic lesson when he refuses to acknowledge that such spending comes at a cost to the private sector, which is the only true place where growth can occur.

You see, there is a difference between jobs and growth.

Government could pay us all to dig ditches. And if they wanted to employ us for a long time, they could give us only spoons to move the soil. Think about how many people could be employed if only the government did that!

But growth - the economic engine that results in long-term jobs and employment - does not come from government. It comes from the private sector when a company creates a product that others choose to purchase, creating the need for supplies and employees and transportation and marketing, etc... This is what builds "an economic foundation for job creation."

Government infrastructure projects do best when they're responding to the needs of the private market - not when they are 'busy work' in order to artificially inflate employment numbers or when they are nothing but pork or special interest projects of politicians (high-speed rail, anyone?).

Josh Mandel, Brown's opponent for the Senate seat in November, obviously has a better grasp of economics (emphasis added):

"Sherrod Brown's statement demonstrates that after two decades in Washington and 38 years running for political office, he is out of touch with struggling private sector job creators and millions of Americans looking for work but can’t find it. I believe the only way forward is to empower hard working Americans. If more wasteful Washington spending was the answer, the problem would have been solved long ago."

No matter where you stand on any other issue, the fact that Brown thinks more government spending is the solution to our economic woes should cause you to vote for Mandel in November.


Mad Jack said...

Rephrased, if you give a man a fish... I think Brown's philosophy is that government exists to give us all the fish we can eat, but government should never teach us to fish for ourselves. After all, if you teach a man to fish he'll likely sit in a boat and drink beer all day, and you'll never have to feed him again.

Maggie said...

Mad Jack - I thought you were going to say that if you teach a man to fish he'd have no need of politicians who can promise him fish in return for his vote...


James said...

Government creates union jobs. Those are the ones Brown referred to without saying "union". The same goes for Webb and Brown on Toledo's city council regarding their scheme to fund recreation. Giving more of my money to them will make the unions happy. Increased parks and recreation use is dubious.

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

Maggie, I would agree with your comment that government money for projects that are not needed is wasteful. The problem in Washington right now is that both parties have their head in the sand on surface transportation funding. TRAC has identified billions of dollars in projects in Ohio alone that need funding, from a new Brent Spence Bridge in cincy to an Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland to the completion of the 475 75 interchange in Toledo. These are not ditch digging jobs, they are necessary projects. This is not to mention all of the safety improvements of a more ordinary nature out there. These types of projects need a sustained funding level over years, not temporary stimulus. The Federal Gas Tax has been the same since l993 while infrastructure material costs increased 70% since 2002 (PB HCCI) Sustained programs mean jobs to alot of people in the private sector...myself included. Until both parties realize that the Highway Trust Fund needs more dollars, communities will continue to wait for projects. At some point this country, and that means all of us, will have to start paying for the services we get and stop thiking the rich are going to take care of everything

Maggie said...

BSRG - you make some very valid points. My biggest issue with the transportation funding is how much money goes to 'alternative' transportation like bike paths and other projects that have a LOCAL impact only. Those items should be taken care of by the local community that benefits (or not) from it - not from funds for interstate highways. I'd start with eliminating all such projects.

I'm a limited government proponent - not a no government advocate and I don't discount the value of particular national funding for some items. But too many of the infrastructure projects our legislators (R and D) promote are the equivalent of ditch-digging. Even the projects you named (valuable and needed) are only temporary and do not create GROWTH - though they do create temporary jobs.

Duke said...

Milton Friedman demonstrates Sherrod Brown's economic policies:

If all we want are jobs, we can create any number--for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again, or perform other useless tasks.

Duke said...

Milton Friedman explains Sherrod Browns economic policies:

If all we want are jobs, we can create any number--for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again, or perform other useless tasks.

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