Thursday, August 09, 2007

Democratic Debate Spawns Weird Economics

James Pethokoukis notes several illustrations of weird economics. Here is one illustration:
"For every $1 billion we spend [on infrastructure], 40,000 jobs can be created in the United States of America." -- Sen. Christopher Dodd. I have no doubt that jobs can be created through government spending. But those billions must be taken from the private sector. Will those billions be used more wisely and efficiently and productively by federal bureaucrats than by private managers? If so, maybe the feds should guarantee a job for everyone who wants one. Using the Dodd formula, it would cost a mere $175 billion a year to employ all 7 million unemployed Americans.
Isn't this classic? It happens all the time with politicians and others in government. Apparently when a person enters, or is thinking of entering, government, it is normal to begin thinking that money grows on trees (and even that those trees don't have to be fed or watered). Just pluck the bills off the trees and spend that money and jobs will result. Of course, the trees with those bills are productive people who earn incomes. When those productive people spend their earned incomes, well, jobs are part of that equation as well. Of course, there is an opportunity cost in "lost jobs" that would be associated with those earned incomes being spent by the people who earned those incomes. This is just classic folk economics and nothing good results from believing it.

It is worth the time to look at the other illustrations as well.

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