Tag Archives: stimulus package

How Wisely Is Stimulus Money Being Spent?

Not at all, to be honest. For starters, the very notion of stimulus violates basic economics. Taking money out of the economy and then putting it back in has no net effect. But it gets worse. Much worse.

When that money is put back into the economy, it goes to the weirdest places — $3.4 million is going to Florida to build a tunnel under U.S. Highway 27, so turtles can cross safely. A fish hatchery in South Dakota is getting $20,000 for new light fixtures. $50,000 is being spent to resurface a tennis court in Bozeman, Montana.

And so on.

These boondoggles aren’t getting nearly enough press. To help fill the vacuum, the good folks at Citizens Against Government Waste have put up a new website, MyWastedTaxDollars.org. Click on over and check it out. The best feature is an interactive map that shows just how unwisely stimulus funds are being spent all over the country.

Stimulus is worse than a zero-sum game. It is actively harmful. It is government saying that it knows how to spend your money better than you do; stimulus is the ultimate act of hubris. Kudos to CAGW and MyWastedTaxDollars.org for providing hundreds of examples of why government hubris should be replaced with government humility.

Voltaire on Government

Voltaire defined government as  “a device for taking money out of one set of pockets and putting it into another.”*

It appears Keynesian stimulus was debunked two and a half centuries before Keynes even came up with the idea. Economic growth comes from the creation of new wealth. The best government can do is shuffle around wealth created by others.

(*cf. Albert Jay Nock, Our Enemy, the State, p. 128)

The Economic Way of Thinking about Stimulus Packages, Part II

In light of the news about stimulus job creation statistics not being as advertised — complete with made-up Congressional districts — I offer another surprisingly relevant insight from Mises’ Human Action. Turns out there is a reason stimulus advocates are resorting to trickery:

“If government spending for public works is financed by taxing the citizens or borrowing from them, the citizens’ power to spend and invest is curtailed to the same extent as that of the public treasury expands. No additional jobs are created.”

-Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, 4th ed., (Irvington-on-Hudson New York: Foundation for Economic Education, 1996 [1949], p. 776.

The Economic Way of Thinking about Stimulus Packages

“[A] government can spend or invest only what it takes away from its citizens… its additional spending and investment curtails the citizens’ spending and investment to the full extent of its quantity.”

-Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, 4th ed., (Irvington-on-Hudson New York: Foundation for Economic Education, 1996 [1949], p. 744.