Kicking the Future (and Jobs) Down the Road

“Our code was simple but effective: we wrote the exact opposite of what we truly meant to say” – Kang Chol-Hwan, The Aquariums of Pyongyang

As Kang Chol-Hwan and an accomplice planned their flight from North Korea, they often communicated via letters. Because the letters were always to be read by the government security agents, they developed a code to hide their true meaning. They just wrote the opposite of everything. Ingenious.

One wonders if perhaps that’s what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have devised to communicate with each other. You see, in America every word that these politicians utter in front of a microphone is studied carefully by the watching authorities. Of course, here the authority is the American people. Nevertheless, the people will read carefully the words of party leaders to dissect their meaning. If those words betray any hint of scull-duggary the people will pounce (at the polls) and remove the party leaders from office. To avoid this constant scrutiny, the party leaders have devised a necessary but simple code. Just say the opposite of what you mean.

This week the Senate passed a “jobs bill” and the House will soon convene to secure passage and send it to the president. The bill will send $26 billion to cash-strapped states to save the jobs of tens of thousands of public employees. Where shall we begin with this nonsense?

Perhaps some background is in order. During the “good years” states made massive promises to public sector (nearly all unionized) employees. It was the “Roaring 2000s” as Harry Dent put it. When things collapsed, the game was up. Now we have broke states looking for ways to balance impossibly out-of-balance budgets. Unemployment is high, so raising state taxes is a nightmare scenario. That will hurt the local economy in general, not to mention the fact that companies looking to hire will look to do so in tax-friendly states. The next idea would be to cut services. Hmmm, also not a great friend-winner with the voting public. Well, I guess we’ll just have to cut pay and benefits for public workers. To this, the public worker unions respond with a massive “WHAT?!!???”

For politicians who don’t have the backbone to address any of these difficult issues (and there are few who do), there is an unmentioned fourth alternative. While states can’t print their own money, they can ask the Federal government to print some for them. Enter Pelosi and Reid.

Now that we have the background, let us dissect the issues of the bill. First, the bill will not save jobs. Mike Shedlock (Mish) has a good takedown on the subject here. Nearly all of the states tried to save the jobs by offering pay cuts (and benefits cuts) – cuts that were summarily rejected by unions. If the money doesn’t come through, the states have no choice but to fire union workers and hire “scabs” – which are much cheaper. This is not a net loss of jobs. In fact, it may mean in increase in jobs as the money will go farther.

When Nancy Pelosi says it will “save jobs” she means it will “save high paying jobs for guaranteed Democrat supporters.”

Let us consider then another implication of the bill. There are states who have balanced their budgets in this crisis, making hard decisions along the way. Now taxpayers in those states, who have already done heavy lifting of their own, are forced to pay bailouts for states that refused to make difficult choices. Does this even seem close to fair or just?

It’s actually quite an advancement in bribery. Once was the day that bribing someone meant taking money out of your pocket and giving it to someone else in hopes of obtaining a benefit from that person. Now the game is turned around. Here we have the Congress using taxpayer money – from you and me and our children’s now dimmer future, and using it to buy votes in the next election. That’s a monumental shift.

In the 2008 elections, presidential candidates spent some $1.3 billion attempting to curry the favor of just under 130 million voters. That’s a cool $10 a head by straight math. But, if you figure that probably only 10% or so were swayed by the political debate, it becomes $100 a head. That’s still an efficient machine.

With this bill, we’re spending $26 billion, though only $10 billion is for the jobs (the rest is for Medicare … don’t get me started). This $10 billion will hopefully (according to Nancy Pelosi) save “tens of thousands of jobs.” Hmmm. Well I’m no mathematician … oh, wait, I AM a mathematician. Now “tens of thousands” is quite ambiguous. At the low end it would be 10,000 jobs – which works out to $1,000,000 a job. For the sake of sanity let’s assume it’s at least 50,000 jobs – which works out to a paltry $200,000 a job. Seriously?

Look Nancy, if you’re going to use my $$ (and my kids’ future) to bribe somebody for a political benefit – HAVE THE DECENCY TO GET A GOOD PRICE! If you want to just STEAL money out of my wallet and use it to BUY votes, have the DECENCY to shop around for the lowest bidder.


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