As crowds leave the National Mall and inauguration festivities come to a close, President Obama and Congress face a daunting agenda. At the top of the President’s to-do list is The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan – an economic “stimulus” package.
But this $850 billion package will not revitalize our lagging economy. It’s simply an enormous payoff of narrow interest groups rather than a means of helping the country-at-large.
A central component of the plan is massive spending on the repair of roads, bridges, and schools, which President Obama claims will create 2.5 million jobs over the next two years. While FDR’s expansion of public power to the Tennessee Valley and Eisenhower’s implementation of the interstate highway system were similar attempts to spur economic growth through massive infrastructure plans – the workplace looks very different today.
Unlike these earlier times when men dominated the workplace, today women make up approximately 46 percent of the labor force. And the fact that Democrats want to invest so heavily in the construction industry – an area where women only account for about 9 percent of the jobs – is concerning.
Radical feminist Linda Hirshman complained in the New York Times last month that then President-elect Obama’s job creation proposal was tilted too heavily toward male-oriented jobs in the construction and engineering industries. The same can be said today for the current economic stimulus package.
That’s why it seems fair to ask, “what’s in it for women?” The short answer is: not much.
Let me be perfectly clear: I don’t think President Obama should simply balance out the recovery plan by “creating” jobs in sectors of the society that are more heavily dominated by women – for instance, in health care and education.
But when government gets into the business of job subsidies, we inevitably face the question, “which types of jobs should it subsidize?”
No government jobs program is going to be fair. That’s why if our goal is to clean up the corruption in politics and take government out of the business of helping one group at the expense of another, we ought to resist the temptation to engage in this kind of government largesse.