Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Should I Believe?

Should I believe my ears or my eyes?

When I began the journey home from my favorite supermarket, a radio ad told me I should not vote for Barack Obama because “he spent almost a trillion dollars in stimulus funds that didn’t create a single job.”

Minutes later I negotiated my way through a construction project that began this spring in Plainwell, Michigan. Most of the work will be paid for with federal economic stimulus funds.

The Plainwell project replaces a bridge that was at the top of Michigan’s unsafe structures list, improves motorist and pedestrian safety on and near an important highway interchange, and eliminates most of a major bottleneck on a busy state highway. The project has been planned for a decade, but state government alone didn't have the funds to get the work done.

Private contractors will have been paid nearly $11 million when the work is completed next year. The project would not have happened now or in the foreseeable future without stimulus funding.

As I drove through the work site I saw numerous young men and women clearing the way for giant construction equipment and performing other tasks.  Older workers were driving trucks and operating backhoes and asphalt-laying machines.  Obviously, many jobs were created or saved by the project.

In this case, I’ll believe my eyes.

Last night, Mitt Romney told us for the umpteenth time that government does not create jobs. Oh, well.


schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

Tax dollars create jobs. Lots of them around here. We have a big argument in our county these days over whether to install a trolly system or articulated buses. The first is horribly expensive and the feds are going to cough up about half of the dollars. Given the wealth of this area, and the fact that government dollars are being printed like crazy (why inflation is creeping back) or borrowed from China, I wonder if this is the best use of tax dollars?

As a retired economist for the Bell System, I could write a long diatribe on why governments don't create jobs, but will spare you (and me).

Trust me, economics is complicated, but think of where dollars come from and you might realize governments do not have any money to spend, so how could they create anything?


PS Check out Senator Coburn's (gang of six) list of wasteful government projects. Every one of them is important to some Congressional District. We once called these expenditures "spoils" and political kickbacks.

joared said...

Thanks for this concrete example of a situation where citizens now have jobs on a community beneficial project. I'm a little tired of all the ideological rhetoric and theoretic examples that do little to demonstrate what actually works and what doesn't.

I think you should believe your eyes. Governments can be and have been a necessary catalyst for the creation of jobs initiated with the use of taxpayer funds for citizen benefits.

There are certain projects from which citizens of a geographical area and/or states benefit. Of course, government expenditures all come from our taxes -- local, state and national. There are differences of opinion about whether or not government should provide some financial incentive, assistance for the initiation of projects, and for which projects -- or should we leave it all up to private enterprise?

History shows private business is not immune, any more than government, and can be quite adept at "milking" projects of all kinds and at all levels, beginning with some who will try to take advantage of an individual who wants to hire work done. (Reports abound of those instances and I can provide one of my own personal experiences where I thwarted an effort to obtain "spoils," "wasteful" charges, possibly even "kickbacks.") So, why should we be surprised some individuals wouldn't do the same in government projects just as in other business dealings?

Business, private enterprise, does not and is not always capable of stepping up to the plate to meet a communities needs and some are not above making excessive gain from those least able to absorb such costs.

Unfortunately, there are always those individuals, groups who exploit whatever system we have and how it's financed -- whether it's business or government funded. The challenge is to prevent the less honest, more greedy from being successful in obtaining their ill-gotten gains. Often regulations (which some rebel against) and enforcing those requirements (which some resist doing) are frequently necessary to minimize corruption in government at any level and PRIVATE ENTERPRISE (who have again proven their capacity for corruption given the recent national financial collapse.)

There is a place for government and there is a place for private enterprise business -- they can and should be able to work honestly together. It's not an either or situation. We'll always have to contend with those individuals, groups who are plain and simple crooks.

Numbers/statistics can provide meaningful information, but they can also be used to support just about any point of view on issues and often are. Not all statistics are reliable and viable. Losing sight of the human element by reduction of issues to statistical numbers has the potential for leading to mankind's dehumanization. We best keep that in mind as health care decisions are made in the future whichever political party prevails in this 2012 election.

Kay said...

We've got a bunch of projects here that got done due to stimulus money in Hawaii also. Thank goodness!