Sunday, January 10, 2010

Are Increased Government Jobs Really The Answer?

HARBESON: With jobs, sometimes less really is more

Last month, I wrote a flippant column about the information on the federal government’s stimulus Web site. It should be obvious now why I chose not to dig deeper — I was waiting for this paper to send a reporter out to do the work for me.

I’m glad I waited because it took him six articles to report on the local impact. If I had continued to study the Web site, my hourly rate would have surely dipped further into negative numbers. Let’s use the time he saved me to discuss the jobs created.

I noticed that many of the reported jobs created are government jobs. I don’t understand how this helps. A government job is not productive in the sense that any new wealth occurs, so the private sector has the burden of supporting yet another government employee.

This means less money is available for private businesses to hire the productive labor which pays for the government job. So how does adding another government job stimulate the economy?

I’m puzzled when people applaud these jobs. If we see a couple struggling to support their kids who suddenly decide to solve their problem by creating more kids, would we applaud this?

Some of the stimulus funds spent on new local government jobs will be paying salary costs for the first three years. This is bad enough because in three years the money will have to come from somewhere else. But what’s even worse is the government-mandated requirement that these jobs can’t be eliminated for at least 10 years!

By creating these government jobs, citizens have just been forced to pay for them for seven more years after the stimulus funds run out. It doesn’t matter if our local community decides something else is more important in a few years. We’ve just been completely handcuffed by the decisions of a few politicians.

I’m particularly interested in these jobs because this is exactly what Clark County government has done in the past. The time period involved in these requirements makes it easy for these jobs to get so embedded in the system that everyone conveniently forgets what happened. Then when future budget problems occur like we are seeing at the county level currently, we are told they don’t have enough money for all the “government services” and that we “must maintain them.”

This is how government grows.

Some of the reported jobs were in the private sector and upon first thought this sounds better. However, looking closer, these jobs created are completely dependent on the government funding to exist. So is this any improvement over the government jobs? Is it helping to build an economy able to sustain itself?

I also noticed that stimulus money was spent locally on giving raises to people who already have government jobs. This “stimulus” only increased future costs for those jobs that already existed before the stimulus at a cheaper price. How does this help the unemployed?

There was another example of stimulus funds being spent locally on people who already had the government jobs before the stimulus package. Stimulus funds paid for these employees to get training for certifications. However, these certifications were not needed at all for their job. Can someone tell me how this helps? Is it because a person was paid to give them the needless certifications?

Finally, a local politician actually rationalized stimulus spending because it created work for the reporter. But if we want to create work for reporters, it’s much more stimulating, not to mention cheaper for the taxpayer, when famous married people just get caught having flings.

SIGLINE: Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson thinks it’s very stimulating when other people do the work for her.

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