With Pelosi explaining that unemployment benefits are the best form of stimulus spending and the President suggesting that further regulation actually creates jobs, it is hard to conceive of more misguided economic thinking.
On a tour in China economist Milton Friedman asked why workers were using shovels instead of earth moving equipment to dig large holes at a construction site. The guide said that they used shovels to create more jobs. “You should then be using spoons,” Friedman suggested.
In Pajama’s Media Zombie writes The Leaf-Blower Paradox and the Fundamental Fallacy of Obamanomics (1/13/12).
Historians still argue whether FDR’s policies shortened or lengthened the Depression, but Obamanomics makes FDR’s busywork schemes look brilliant by comparison.
In descending order:
• FDR redistributed money to the poor by using the government as an inefficient middleman. But under his system at least something positive got achieved — roads were built, parks improved — however non-essential they may have been.
• The Leaf-Blower Paradox also redistributes money to the poor, but is one step down; instead of inefficiently achieving non-essential goals, the leaf-blowers collectively produce nothing whatsoever.
• And then we have Obama, who takes us down to the absolute lowest level of counter-productiveness: He proposes that we “create jobs” by employing people to prevent the creation of jobs. Hiring people to implement economy-destroying EPA regulations — and then touting this dubious strategy as a way to “create jobs” — is the equivalent of hiring thousands of men to drive steamrollers over America’s farmlands. Not only have we lowered unemployment by creating thousands of new Steamroller Driver positions, but we’ve created more jobs in the agricultural sector as well, since the farmers now have to hire workers to re-plant all their crops!
In my admittedly primitive way of visualizing economics, there are two basic kinds of jobs: The first kind, which I call “productive jobs,” involve the creation of new things: manufacturing, inventing, designing, building, extracting raw materials, and so on. The second kind, which I call “maintenance jobs,” involve preserving a pleasant and safe civilizational environment: policing, service jobs, cleaning, health care, and so forth. These “maintenance jobs” are less glamorous but they are just as essential to the economy, because they create and maintain a status quo in which productiveness can be achieved.
Yet Obama and his crack team of economists have now dreamt up a third kind of job: The destructive job. Except Obama is more subtle than hiring Steamroller Drivers. No, instead, his destructive employment program involves the hiring of bureaucrats to stifle and crush entrepreneurialism and the free market; technicians to install machinery which makes doing business more difficult and expensive; IRS agents to squeeze more and more money from the dwindling number of productive Americans; and public servants whose job is to remove as many people as they can from the employment market by enslaving them to addictive lifelong entitlements like Food Stamps and unending unemployment benefits.
The Leaf Blower is a great analogy to government make work schemes. The idea that government actions that destroy jobs can be described as creating them is the shallowest of Orwellian economic thinking.