While in high school, I was standing at a bus stop next to a gas station. A kid tossed a candy wrapper on the station lot. Somebody yelled, "Hey, pick that up." The kid, with a straight face, defended himself. He said, "I just created a job." Someone would be hired, he explained, to pick up the trash, and this would be good for the economy.
Don't laugh. The kid probably works for the Obama administration.
Congress is now considering yet another "stimulus" package. But did the administration's previous one work? Of the $787 billion stimulus package, President Obama said it would "save or create" 3.5 million new jobs. Has it?
The National Association for Business Economics polled 68 private-sector members. Seventy-three percent said the employment at their companies was neither higher nor lower as a result of the stimulus package.
What about the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office? A February 2009 Washington Times article said:
"President Obama's economic recovery package will actually hurt the economy more in the long run than if he were to do nothing, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.
"CBO, the official scorekeepers for legislation, said the House and Senate bills will help in the short term but result in so much government debt that within a few years they would crowd out private investment, actually leading to a lower Gross Domestic Product over the next 10 years than if the government had done nothing."
What do normal, regular, real-world people think? In December 2009, a Rasmussen poll asked likely voters whether the "stimulus" helped, hurt or did nothing.
They agreed with the private-sector economists and the CBO -- the stimulus did not work. And more felt it did damage than thought it helped: "A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 30 percent of voters nationwide believe the $787-billion economic stimulus plan has helped the economy. However, 38 percent believe that the stimulus plan has hurt the economy. This is the first time since the legislation passed that a plurality has held a negative view of its impact."
Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and commentator Ed we-need-health-care-reform-and-I-don't-care-how-much-it-costs Schultz think one way. Believers in the free market and limited government think another. As between these two camps, which one better understands how the real world works?