Free Markets, Free People

Years, Not Months, To Recovery

Well yeah - now:

President Barack Obama on Friday warned that economic recovery in the United States “will be measured in years, not months” as he scored a major victory in his young presidency with the approval in Congress of a $787 billion (£542) bill to revive the economy.

How unfocused is this mess? Well here’s a nice example:

Sec.1421 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act gives employers a tax incentive for hiring people (I hesitate to call them “workers,” given it’s not likely they’ve ever held a job for more than a couple days) who fit the following description. Betcha can’t wait to hire this person!

DISCONNECTED YOUTH . –The term ‘disconnected youth’ means any individual who is certified by the designated local agency as having attained age 16 but not age 25 on the hiring date, as not regularly attending any secondary, technical, or post-secondary school during the 6-month period preceding the hiring date, as not regularly employed during such 6-month period, and as not readily employable by reason of lacking a sufficient number of basic skills.

I wonder if the Democrats who voted for the stimulus bill realize they just voted to give a tax break to McDonald’s and WalMart.

Of course, they have no idea of who or what they’ve given breaks too (although I doubt McD’s and Wal-Mart are eager to take on workers with no skills).

And the bill is rife with examples like the above. What is doesn’t have at all are the things economists know work and work immediately – like marginal tax cuts.

Fact Check takes a look at the bill and finds problems with many of the basic promises made (and certainly takes issue with the claim there are “no earmarks” in the bill).

A couple of things Fact Check notes include the claim that digitizing health records and modernizing the electrical grid will be quickly done and provide great savings:

The president also says electronic health records will save billions of dollars. But the Congressional Budget Office says that even a decade of expected savings are unlikely to pay back the government what the government will spend on health IT.

The president said the bill will modernize the nation’s electricity grid, reducing consumption by 2 percent to 4 percent. That’s optimistic. Industry reports say that a new grid could reduce energy consumption by up to 4 percent, but not until 2030 and at a cost much greater than the stimulus bill would cover.

But what this does is get the proverbial government nose under the tent and set up more spending with future bills:

Mr Obama will also propose a budget to lay the groundwork for sweeping health care reform and present a major green energy bill. Mr Obama will also propose a budget to lay the groundwork for sweeping health care reform and present a major green energy bill.

The mistake of the paragraph above is the “groundwork” is being laid with this “stimulus” bill.

So, we’ve added 789 billion to the 750 billion TARP and the possible 1.2 trillion Geithner plan and are contemplating spending hundreds of billions more for “sweeping health care refomr and … a major green energy bill”. And we haven’t even mentioned the coming “AGW” spending debacle.

What generation are we up to now? Have we dragged my great, great, great grandchildren’s generation into to this yet?

Shameful.

~McQ

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23 Responses to Years, Not Months, To Recovery

  • That makes perfect sense: They’ll only put money in energy sources that have been shown never to work before, so of course they’ll only incentivize the hiring of people who’ve been shown never to work before, either. 

    I’m starting to think the Democrats really are crazy and stupid enough to believe what they claim to. 

  • What’s shameful is the almost three decades of failed policies that brought us to this point.  What’s shameful is the focus on tax cuts and privatization that destroyed the economy as we lived beyond our means.  Now this is something we have to do in order to give future generations a chance — it’s a big gamble, but the alternative is steep economic decline.  I’ve been telling you about the signs of America’s decline and you’ve ignored them — now it can’t be denied.   Now you oppose efforts to halt it by calling for the failed policies of the past.   Nope.  It’s a new era, this is only the beginning.

    • Failed policies of the past…like living beyond our means….such as spending $800 billion that we can’t afford on things that don’t really stimulate the economy, things that won’t take effect for a couple of years, and things that really should be discussed in general appropriations.

      Gotcha.

    • Get ready for “Stimulus III” sometime next year .. just in time to buy votes for November.

    • Failed policies of the past???? You mean like trying to spend your way out of a recession?

      That hasn’t worked last i recall.

    • The decline  into megalomania continues…

  • Erb develops another condition; megalomania in addition to his narcissism and delusional disorder. It also seems he mayhave plenty of company with his fellow leftists. “The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling! We Need A Bigger Umbrella! We Need Many Bigger Umbrellas!”.

    Now that the Stimulus Bill  is done, they can get back to work on increasing regular spending, probably including all those things those fiscally responsible bipartisan Republicans got cut from the Stimulosaurus.

  • (although I doubt McD’s and Wal-Mart are eager to take on workers with no skills).

    Obviously you haven’t been to either place in some time… All they employ are people with no skills. Or common sense. Or brains.

    • You just have to think of it in the correct context.  Unskilled in the FatDonalds world is not the same thing as unskilled in the automotive industry.  It takes way more skill to wrap a cheese burger than it does to push the lug nut machine up to the car in the auto plant.

  • “What’s shameful is the almost three decades of failed policies that brought us to this point.  What’s shameful is the focus on tax cuts and privatization that destroyed the economy as we lived beyond our means. ”

    What’s shameful is a government that allows people to become dehumanized to the point where they cannot make individual, rational decisions.  It also allows any societal shortcomings to be blamed on those in government who “don’t do enough”.  Mob mentality. O tempora o mores! (some Cicero from somebody who is not a Senator from Massachussetts).

    There are some things that the government should do, but that is not what the uproar over this “Stimulus” is about.  I don’t mind government funds being spent on infrastructure, but I also think that states and municipalities should shoulder some of the responsibility.  And this sort of government spending shouldn’t be piggybacked (heh) onto a stimulus bill.

  • As to what Scottie posts on this site:
    “See that thou never have for the inhuman the feeling which the inhuman have for human kind” – Marcus Aurelius (Yeah, I know that you can try to apply this to terrorists, but I don’t think that it is what he has in mind).
    I try to keep this in mind when around people of the left.  Yes, I  feel that their ideas are inhuman, but I think it would be more constructive if we try to appeal to the individual within.  You are not going to break the bonds between them and their conventional wisdom by ad hominem attacks.

  • For a “libertarian” Doc, you seem awfully fond of this statist monstrosity….

    I’ll wait for your doppleganger to make your points more cogently.

  • DISCONNECTED YOUTH . –The term ‘disconnected youth’ means any individual who is certified by the designated local agency as having attained age 16 but not age 25 on the hiring date, as not regularly attending any secondary, technical, or post-secondary school during the 6-month period preceding the hiring date, as not regularly employed during such 6-month period, and as not readily employable by reason of lacking a sufficient
    number of basic skills.

    I added the emphasis there. 

    Gentlemen, what this means is the government is finally admitting how crummy its education system has become.  The fact is, there are high school and college graduates (possibly with Master’s degrees) out there who cannot be employed because they lack basic skills.  What’s the point in going to school if you’re not going to learn anything?  What’s the point in our paying for schools that don’t teach anything?

  • not readily employable by reason of lacking a sufficient number of basic skills

    define “basic skills”  .. can they speak English .. can they read at 3rd grade level .. can they do lavatory “paper work” ?

    About 30 years ago, there was a crisis in the engineering fields because there wasn’t enough “qualified engineers”.
    After 2 decades of kabuki dancing, it was determined that there were enough engineers, if the existing supply were given less that 6 weeks training to become “qualified” for any given specific job.

    I do love semantics

  • What’s shameful is the almost three decades of failed policies that brought us to this point. Everything in politics since the sainted Jimmy Carter has just been bad, bad, bad, and don’t let anyone tell you any different. Who needs 5% unemployment, anyway? We were fine with Jimmy’s 10%. And we’ll soon be back there, thank goodness.

    What’s shameful is the focus on tax cuts and privatization that destroyed the economy as we lived beyond our means. I mean, really, who thought it was a good idea to let people decide how to spend their own money or run their own businesses? We wise leftists know that only beneficent government bureaucrats, guided by leftist leaders with a godlike power of political science, are fit to make economic decisions. And that means we have to take people’s money away from them to spend on museums for obscure subjects and bridges to congressmen’s property. That’s wise investment. I decree it.

    Now this is something we have to do in order to give future generations a chance. Mostly a chance to go even further in debt, but still. Anything else would have been bad, bad, bad. Especially doing nothing. If we had done nothing and things had gotten better, we wise leftists could not have gotten the credit for guiding society that we so richly deserve. So we had to do something.

    It’s a big gamble, but the alternative is steep economic decline. Yes, our citizens have to sacrifice and live within their means to get through this. And it’s not an alternative to start making government live within its means, so stop saying that! If government had to live within its means, the suffering among our poor, disadvantaged citizens would be horrendous. Not to mention what it might do to essential programs for wise academics who work at public institutions.

    I’ve been telling you about the signs of America’s decline and you’ve ignored them. And all the wailing from you libertarians about how America has been declining because of government growth doesn’t count. I decree it! What I’ve been waying is completely different, because we wise leftists know that the decline has nothing to do with government growth and everything to do with greedy businessmen giving loans to people who can’t pay them back. And, d*mn it, stop questioning why it’s an example of greed to loan money you probably won’t get back! It just is, I tell you!!!

    So we’re headed for steep decline — now it can’t be denied. Now you oppose efforts to halt it by calling for the failed policies of the past. And a porky bill that enables government to spend tons of money is nothing like failed policies of the past! I decree it!!! I’m talking about failed policies of Republicans, and if Democrats do exactly the same thing, it’s still not the same policies because the holy writ of post-modernism tells us so. In brief, the intentions of the Democrats are always good and the intentions of Republicans are always bad, and that gives a holy post-modern blessing to Democratic policies. I decree it.

    Nope. It’s a new era, this is only the beginning. Yep, you dense righties better bend and over and get ready, because you won’t believe how much we’re going to abuse your freedom. You don’t deserve freedom anyway, because you misuse it so. Only we wise leftists deserve freedom, which includes the freedom to boss you righties around. And now that the Bush regime is over (finally!), we’re going to get it. Suck on it, righties.

  • Erb after Obama was elected:

    What’s shameful is the focus on tax cuts and privatization that destroyed the economy as we lived beyond our means.

    Erb before Obama was elected (2007-2008) – when he was still trying to convince everyone what a good libertarian he is:

    tax cuts are good, but we have to have spending cuts as well

    [W]ith debt at about 70% of GDP I think we’re potentially in for an economic crisis… Question: will the politicians make the hard choices to handle this, or will they borrow more and finger point? One reason I can’t support the Democrats is their policy preferences seem to ignore this looming crisis. One reason I can’t support the Republicans is they spend as much or more than Democrats despite talking a better talk

    Looking at the economics behind the stimulus package and I just can’t support it. Going into debt further makes the structural problems worse, while cutting spending to pay for the stimulus undermines the stimulus. In this case, I side with the Republicans.

    increasing investment via tax rebates to individuals may be far less effective for the economy overall — and far more costly (and if we borrow more to pay for it, that will have a negative consequence, better to boost investment the cheapest way possible).

    [A] cut in corporate taxes would be a better stimulus [than a tax rebate].

    Why would anyone believe Erb is a weasel? It couldn’t have anything to do with what he actually writes, could it?
    And just for fun, here’s an Erb quote about oil:

    I have to conclude you are utterly ignorant of the situation in the oil market… [T]he era of cheap oil is over. It’s not a bubble.

    So sayeth the Erb.

    • The mask is off, JWG.  To Erb, it’s a bad thing to give tax cuts and thus put money in the hands of the general public, because they might spend it on the wrong things.  But it’s a good thing to give far more money to government programs, becaus that’s spending on the right things.

      It’s a comple statist, socialistic mindset:  the fruits of your labors belong to the state, because the state knows what’s best.

      It reminds me of an old joke about a couple that were vacationing in Las Vegas.  One evening, the wife asked her husband for $50.  “What happened to the 50 bucks I gave you last night?” asked the husband.

      “I lost it,” replied the wife.

      “You LOST it?!”

      “Well, you lost $500 the other night.”

      “That’s different I know how to gamble!”
       

  • I’m going to effectively agree with Erb (who, BTW, I’m increasingly convinced is not a real person but rather McQ or one of the other owners being a sock puppet when they want to stir up the comment thread) and say that the failed policies of the past decades HAVE brought us to this present situation.  Seriously.  Bear with me…

    Since at least the time of LBJ, we’ve seen increasing government intervention in our markets and, for that matter, our everyday lives.  It’s not surprising: we all want the economy to run smoothly so we can have good jobs, cheap goods and services, and financial security.  We want enough wealth to live comfortably and have something left over for those less fortunate than ourselves (Americans are generous people).  We think… No, make that “many of us have been conditioned to believe” that government can regulate the economy by pulling the right levers.  Adjust an interest rate here, make a new regulatory agency there, and add a dollop of “oversight”, and voila!  Permanent good economy with low unemployment and low inflation.  Allan Greenspan appeared to be a master of this sort of thing: every time the economy looked to be heading down, he’d tinker with the interest rates and good times would quickly return.

    We didn’t LET the government increasingly interfere with the economy: we DEMANDED it.

    And so, we get those failed policies of excessive government spending, excessive government regulation, and distortion of market forces with the result that, when the bill finally came due, it was a whopper.  But consider:

    — The subprime mortgage debacle would never have happened had politicians, eager to get credit for increased home ownership, not forced banks to make risky loans while essentially promising that those loans would be secured with taxpayer dollars. 

    — The healthcare crisis would never have happened had politicians, eager to get credit for “compassion” toward the sick and the poor, not distorted the costs of medical care by mandating prices through such programs as Medicare and Medicaid. 

    — The recent fuel crisis would never have happened had politicians, eager to burnish their “green” credentials, stand up to Big Oil, and keep nasty ol’ refineries out of people’s back yards, not put every conceivable roadblock in the way of petroleum exploration and use.  Ditto nuclear power. 

    — Infrastructure?  What credit is there is something as pedestrian as repairing an existing bridge or road?  Building a new one makes a bigger splash.  And if you can get money to build a “mass trans” project?  SUH-WEET!  Never mind that Americans, outside of a few densely populated areas like NYC and Washington, have never been big into using mass-trans and so they become permanent boondoggles like Amtrak, soaking up tax dollars to no good end. 

    And what about tax policy?  How many pages is the tax code now?  How full of exceptions, loopholes, incentives, penalties, different rates, schedules, forms, etc?  How much money does the government take OUT of the economy?  How much better working Americans’ lives might be if they got to spend that money themselves instead of working half the year to pay their tax debt?

    Failed policies, indeed.

    And TAO and the rest of the dem filth, abetted by three RINO’s, is giving us a HUGE helping of more of the same.  MORE regulation, MORE boondoggles, MORE taxes.  When Porkulus doesn’t fix the problem (indeed, it will almost certainly make it worse), the politicians will do more of the same.  TAO already said it: when confronted with the fact that Japan tried the “stimulus” approach when their economy tanked back in the ’90s and it led to a 10-year recession, he snapped that they didn’t SPEND ENOUGH.  Yep: the way to cure a debt-ridden, ailing economy is MORE spending, not less.

    Hold on, kids.  It’s gonna be a long, rough ride.

  • Hello, QandO denizens. Justin Case here. I’ve popped in because JWG hits upon something that we’ve been struggling with as a programming problem lately.

    For new readers, I’ve explained previously that the commenter using the moniker “Scott Erb” is actually a computer program, the Emotionless Robotic Bloviator, version 5 (ERB-5 for short). It’s an experiment in developing a program that can pass the Turing test by pretending to be human long enough to fool real humans.

    The election of Obama gave us an opportunity for a new nominal reason for simulated smugness in ERB-5. We programmed in a routine to automatically agree with any position Obama takes, regardless of prior assertions by the program. Since it’s a computer program, logical consistency is irrelevant, and ERB-5 has been chugging along, generating smug posts just about any time Obama comes up.

    Unfortunately, we are dealing with a bit of a problem in recent posts. ERB-5 has become repetitious on Obama-related subjects. It merely asserts that whatever Obama decides is the right thing to do, and then throws in some generic insults about Obama opponents. (This repetition has even overcome its programmed tendency to post constantly about Iraq and Jimmy Carter.)

    We had hoped for more lively rhetoric from ERB-5, but we must declare our recent changes a failure. Besides the boring nature of the resulting posts, QandO denizens have been eviscerating the results quickly and concisely. This leads to less input for the next round of ERB-5 output, which leads to a negative cycle of more repetitious output. (It also degrades the quality of the “Ott Scerb” parody program, which also needs more output to process for its attempted humor.)

    We have been tinkering with the “personality profile” that we established awhile back. We previously determined for our programming parameters that “he” was basically a coward, and that explained his animus towards the military. And we decided that “his” struggles with “his” own mediocrity caused “him” to obsessively come to QandO to find an audience to which “he” can feel superior. We are basically keeping those attributes, while trying to add refinements to make the program more believeable.

    We recently tried to imitate typical leftist human commenters by adding in a higher disgust factor with ideological opponents, but that has increased the repetitive nature of ERB-5 posts. That are replete with how everything Republicans have ever done is bad and wrong, with no supporting material of any kind. (In retrospect, the repetitive nature of most leftist sites should have told us this wouldn’t work.)

    This seems to be a blind alley on improving ERB-5, and we welcome suggestions for getting our progress back on track. Believe me, I have to read everything ERB-5 produces, and I’m getting pretty sick of its recent output, just as the readers here have been.

    To directly address JWG’s point, ERB-5 does not include a reconciliation module to defend previously expressed positions. It was much easier to program a more stateless model, in which previous posts are not an input parameter for current posts. We recognize that this tends to make “Scott Erb” more and more inconsistent over time, but this is simply a matter of programming resources. Our machines don’t have the memory to hold and process all the old posts, nor do we have a good enough fitness function to evaluate whether current posts are consistent with them. We’re sorry about that, but we have no good avenues of research to fix that problem.

    Justin Case
    Director, Turing Studies
    Teacher Replacement Lab
    University of Maine