American Elephants

Where Has All the Money Gone? Long Time Squandered! by The Elephant's Child

You will notice that the purple section of the pie chart is missing.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released a report claiming that the $814 billion “stimulus” has added 3.5 million net jobs —astounding the 3.5 million Americans who have lost their  jobs and remained unemployed since the stimulus was enacted in February 2009.  The CBO has to work with the statistics they are given, and what they were given came out of Keynesian computerized economic programs.

The Beltway is the most prosperous area of the country,while across the nation it takes $2 million to create a pothole-filling job. Never before in history has Washington spent so much to get so little real work.

This last week, we have the example revealed of disappointing employment generation in how $111 million in stimulus money has so far funded just 55 public-works jobs in Los Angeles.  City Controller Wendy Gruel says that two municipal departments, Public Works and Transportation, plan eventually to create or save 264 jobs with that money, but the contracting process is so slow that most of the money is still waiting to be spent.

So the price tag per job is up to $2 million .  Even if the city departments meet their target of 264 jobs with that money, the price tag will drop to only $420,000 per job.  Even overpaid workers won’t actually get that much.  Some of the money goes to capital costs and to contractors profits, and some of it goes to the normal process of government contracting. Bureaucrats have no particular need to push things through quickly, weeks or  months late make no difference.

Vice President Joe Biden cited an example on Friday in which the New York City Department of Transportation is spending $175 million to renovate bridges and a parking lot, putting all of 129 people to work.  That adds up to $1.46 million per job.  A project in Ohio that’s on Biden’s list  cost $138 million and created 300 jobs that cost $460,000 per worker.

I know math is hard, but this is ridiculous.  $111 million divided by 55 is more than embarrassing, it’s scandalous.  Operating on way too much hope here and too little change.


Why Do They Feel Entitled to Tell Us What to Do? by The Elephant's Child

Tom Sowell took on “The Evolution of the Term Conservative‘” this week in another of his brilliant essays.

Most liberals are not liberal and most conservatives are not conservative. We might be better off just calling them X and Y, instead of imagining that we are really describing their philosophies. Moreover, like most confusion, it has consequences.

The late liberal professor Tony Judt of New York University gave this definition of liberals: “A liberal is someone who opposes interference in the affairs of others: who is tolerant of dissenting attitudes and unconventional behavior.”

According to Professor Judt, liberals favor “keeping other people out of our lives, leaving individuals the maximum space in which to live and flourish as they choose.”

That is certainly in keeping with the dictionary definition of liberalism and with most contemporary liberals’ vision of themselves. But, if we follow Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s admonition to “think things, not words” and look beyond the label to the tangible realities of the world, we find almost the exact opposite of what the word “liberal” is supposed to mean.

Certainly, the two-thousand-and-some pages that empower federal bureaucrats to tell doctors, patients, hospitals and insurance companies what to do — and further empowers more bureaucrats in agencies, departments, offices, and bureaus to devise the rules that the former must follow, isn’t exactly opposing interference in the affairs of others.

The administration that sent the FBI to Britain to tell a teenager there that he was forever banned from entering the United States of America, because he had sent an email to the White House calling the president a “pr**k;” who called out Forbes magazine because they had published a cover story by Dinesh D’ Souza describing Obama’s  thought process; and a President who attacked House Minority Leader John Boehner nine times in a recent speech because he disagreed, can hardly be described as tolerant of dissenting attitudes and unconventional behavior.

Nanny government is everywhere. Our state hopes to raise taxes on pop and candy because they have decided that those things are bad for you. Mayor Bloomberg is called ‘Nanny Bloomberg’ simply because he has so attempted to reorganize the lives of New York citizens to his preferences — ordering New York restaurants to avoid any trans fats, though there is no scientific evidence that trans fats harm anyone.

Michelle Obama has asked all restaurants to avoid fats and sugars and to offer children more apple slices and raw carrots, though there is no evidence that apples and carrots make children healthier, nor has anyone requested that the First Lady decide what the American people may eat.  Sigh.

If you do not have a copy of Tom Sowell’s The Quest for Cosmic Justice in your own library, I recommend it.  It repays rereading many times over.

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