Most people doubt Congress’ ability to spend money wisely. The stimulus has given them some proof:
-$800,000 for an African genital-washing program.
-$700,000 to create computer software that can tell jokes.
–$40,000 for ten trash bins.
-$1.6 million to irrigate a golf course inTexas.
-Thousands of dollars to replace – twice – a sidewalk “that doesn’t front any homes or businesses, and leads into a ditch”
–300 truckloads of oyster shells.
Bonus non-stimulus spending: “[T]he Census spent $23,000 on a totem pole in Alaska. Census representative Hector Maldonado says the agency thought it was a great idea. The plan was to increase participation in Alaska, but despite the totem pole, participation dropped in the state by two percent from the last census.”
Through June, the government spent about $620 billion of stimulus money. The Obama administration claims that the spending has saved or created 2.3 to 2.8 million jobs.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume those job creation numbers are true. In fact, let’s pick the rosiest number — 2.8 million jobs.
At a price of $620 billion, that comes out to $221,428.57 per job. Startlingly inefficient.
Now consider that that $620 billion had to come from somewhere else. Some of that money came from taxes. That leaves less money left over for consumers and businesses to spend. Some of the stimulus money was borrowed. That leaves less capital for private companies borrow.
The private sector tends to spend less than the government to create a job. Since stimulus spending is spending more money to create fewer jobs than the private sector, it is actually causing net harm to the job market.
In place of the spending stimulus, I humbly offer a deregulatory stimulus. CEI VP Wayne Crews and I offer some specific proposals here.
$150,045 of stimulus money is being spent to restore a bridge that doesn’t connect to any roads and ends in an 8-foot drop.
Stimulus backers claim that the project created 1.9 jobs. That’s $78,971.05 per job created. That’s not a very good deal. Especially considering that no jobs were created on net, because that $150,000 was taken away from somewhere else in the economy.
Without the stimulus, that money would have been spent in other ways. Given that most jobs cost less than $78,971 to create, it may well be that the bridge restoration project meant fewer jobs were created than if the government had just left the money where it was originally — your pocket.