How Much Stimulatin' Can an Economy Take?


Via Hotair comes this bit from the DC Examiner about just how much all those jobs created or saved actually cost:

Even if we take at face value the White House claim that it created or saved all these jobs with approximately $150 billion of the economic stimulus money, a little simple math shows the taxpayers aren't getting any bargains here: $150 billion divided by 650,000 jobs equals $230,000 per job saved or created. Instead of taking all that time required to write the 1,588-page stimulus bill, Congress could have passed a one-pager saying the first 650,000 jobless persons to report for work at the White House will receive a voucher worth $230,000 redeemable at the university, community college or trade school of their choice. That would have been enough for a degree plus a hefty down payment on a mortgage.

More here.

NEXT: Last Week's Top 5 Hit & Run Posts

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I could really have used that $230,000. Yo, fuck Keynes.

  2. They knew you would blow it on drugs and hookers, being a libertarian and all.

    1. Man. I could have bought a lifetime supply of monocles and top hats with that scratch.

    2. Why do you speak so negatively about entertainment investments?

  3. I think California can hire a prison guard for 9 months for that kind of piddling sum

  4. Sorry, but your math just doesn’t make sense. If you take a construction project for a bridge worth $1,000,000 and build it with a crew of 10 men, you can’t say you spent $100,000 on each employee, can you?

    What about the materials for the bridge? Gas to run vehicles? And what about the added value to the city of having the bridge. We’re not talking about literally paying people to do nothing; they’re building things that people will actually use.

    The $150 billion figure there wasn’t spent solely on employment; there’s also the added value of improved roads/bridges/parks and all the other projects stimulus money has funded.

    Most of these projects are things that were in the works, but just didn’t have the money to get started.

    For a site called “Reason”, you seem pretty cynical.

    1. Sorry, still getting over last night’s binge drinking. Please watch your language.

    2. Damn you Steven Dugas. I’m trying cut down on my drinking at work.

    3. Meanwhile, here’s something even more shocking about those stimulus jobs. Every American should be shocked about that, but the problem is most of them won’t hear about it because the vast majority of those inside the Beltway are corrupt. This site will never mention it (except to encourage even more screwing of American workers), and likewise with the GOP and the Dems. The latter especially will clam up lest the SorosChip in their brains is activated.

      1. Let me guess, something about filthy brown subhumans getting jobs? Fuck off and die, you autofelching child molester.

    4. Hey, if you have a problem with a smell test, talk to Obama. These are his numbers.

      You’re also assuming that any of the projects funded were needed or necessary projects. That’s a leap of faith.

      How much per job does the $150,000,000 in subsidies sent to the 3-flights-per-day John Murtha Airport work out to?

      1. Agreed, it’s all a leap of faith, just as all of Keynesianism is. Faith that the decisions made by the benevolent leaders are in the public best interests, faith that the projects are a legitimate use of resources (double bridges and highways to nowhere in Japan, anyone?), and faith that the money would not have been better spent retooling/reorganizing/streamlining. Oh, and just in case none of the above happen to work out? No problem, Keynes said it doesn’t matter what you spend on, so much as you spend as much or more than you can possibly afford. How rational.

    5. there’s also the added value of improved roads/bridges/parks and all the other projects stimulus money has funded.

      Giving 280,000 to a random 600k poeple would have also added value. They would have went to school, built houses, started business.

      One one hand you say government can spend that money better while I say individuals can spend that money better.

      The difference being is you have zero evidence to support your theory while I have mountains of it supporting mine.

    6. Re: Steve Dugas,

      […] there’s also the added value of improved roads/bridges/parks and all the other projects stimulus money has funded.

      Maintenance costs do not add value to anything – it is just COST.

      The point of “pointing out” the cost per job is to show that the central argument (i.e. Creating Jobs) is absurd in its face. The White House is not aguing for the effectiveness of the stimulus by showing just how many cubic yards of concretre were purchased, they’re focusing on how much job positions were openned.

      1. […] there’s also the added value of improved roads/bridges/parks and all the other projects stimulus money has funded.

        Maintenance costs do not add value to anything – it is just COST.

        Well put. I wonder if Steve Dugas thinks that AMTRAK or the proposed high speed rails would be a good ‘value added’ approach as a project, and if so, how it can be demonstrated.

    7. How is Reason Cynical? There is no reason behind the rationale of the stimulus package.

      1- You aren’t creating jobs. You’re destroying jobs in the real economy to provide a public works program for the unemployed.
      2- You aren’t adding value to anything. You’re taking value away from the economy.
      3- You can’t establish a price for these goods and services because there is no market mechanism to gauge supply and demand.
      4- You’re driving the price of resources up for the private sector by taking away from the limited supply.

      I believe North Korean has close to 100% employment. If you want to get rid of unemployment, why don’t you get rid of backhoes and shovels. You could probably employ entire nations to dig w/ spoons.

      Also people are saying it might just be better to give people money and do nothing. You’re still damaging the economy by diluting the value of the money people already have. Money is nothing more than a claim to the wealth that already exists in the world.

      By these rationales we should just sovietize the entire economy. If the government can create jobs, why not create all the jobs? If giving people money out of thin air is good, why not make everyone a billionaire tomorrow?

    8. False. Michigan has been making up jobs for people for years and the state is paying for it. Much of the stimulus money has been misspent and unspent anyway. Keynesian economics lead to debt. The stimulus was a horrible idea that we will be paying for for an eternity. Meanwhile unemployment is nearing 10 percent.

  5. I could finally have gotten that operation to have gills and join the Deep Ones.

  6. I could finally have bought a shitload of firewood and gasoline, and had that climate warming kitten bonfire I’ve always wanted.

  7. Naga is Dagon?

  8. Apparently, the value of a job is priceless.

  9. Dugas, good point, but I’m still cynical about the stimulus. The money for those improvements is being taken from the private sector and the government is then deciding what to do with it. A zero sum game for the economy; a power grab for da gummint.

  10. More support for SD’s point. I do think, however, that if job creating is what this is about, then some direct hiring makes sense. A WPA CCC style jobs program makes as much sense to me as extending unemployment benefits as it has the added value of providing something for the money. If you’re gonna get paid for looking for a job, a portion of that time spent providing the community with a service seems, somehow, appropriate.

    1. Re: Neu Mexican,

      I do think, however, that if job creating is what this is about, then some direct hiring makes sense.

      If and only IF job creation is what this is about. However, giving someone money to do “anything” instead of giving him or her money to do nothing may be more damaging in the end, if by putting him to work, precious and scarce resources are taken from the market for projects or jobs of dubious economic value.

    2. The big benefit of the WPA wasn’t in stimulating the general economy but in providing political stability. Giving people jobs kept them from rioting and making things worse.

      1. Re:Shannon Love,
        The big benefit of the WPA wasn’t in stimulating the general economy but in providing political stability. Giving people jobs kept them from rioting and making things worse.

        Your argument would make sense if people rioted or became restless due to idleness. However, such idle people like vacationers and tourists do not go around breaking windows, burning cars or destroying property (at least, not as a matter of routine), then the idleness premise cannot be correct. The same can be said about people currently unemployed – last I saw, there were no roaming bands of rogue unemployed pillaging and raping all over the land. Thus there is no reason to believe in the WPA’s effectiveness as a cure to rioting or political restlessness. It is however a good political tool to demonstrate to the witless just how effective the State is concerning jobs creation.

        1. Rioting young unemployed Muslims in France.


          1. Re: Annonymous,
            Rioting young unemployed Muslims in France.

            Ah, that’s F-R-A-N-C-E. Rioting is THEIR national passtime. We’re talking about America, here.

        2. Uh, there IS reason to believe that WPA might have been a cure to restlessness. In places where some of the program was not in play, there were what amounted to organized tax revolts–armed and dangerous in some cases. Interviews I’ve heard of young men in WPA programs outright said they’d had enough of the worry and danger of some of the big city life in those days, it’s part of why WPA was an effective way of getting things done in the way of improving national wonders and playgrounds.

          As for today, most people who are unemployed (and underemployed) still have the ‘essentials’ of Sunday football pablum and other televised programming to keep them sedate. I rather think it would be a different picture when the lights go out.

  11. Naga is Dagon?

    Are you surprised? I guess Drakkar Noir is pretty good at covering up the stench of rotting fish he tends to emanate.

  12. Naga is Dagon?

    There are many things you don’t know about me, Epi.

    Jaime Kelly,

    Dude! Where ya been? We’ve tried keeping your memory alive but it’s tough without a guiding light! We’ve degenerated into simply yelling “Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko!”.

  13. Drakkar Noir? You’re trying to hard, Xeones.

    1. It’s a running gag, Mr. Doesn’t Hang Out Much at H&R Anymore.

      1. *hangs head in shame*

        It’s true . . . it’s true . . .

        You just had to move to Seattle. You broke the band up, Yoko! I don’t even see SugarFree anymore.

        1. NutraSweet is in New Orleans right now. Drive down and hang with him.

          1. Word? That place is awesome right now. The place is dead. Everyone is great to you because they want your money so badly right now. Even the bums were cool.

            1. That’s ’cause most of the bums used to own restaurants.

              1. No joke, Pro Lib. That place is dead. The GF and I were there in September. You know its dead when one of the girls from Larry Flynts Barely Legal Hustler Club says we can just hang out for a bit.

                1. I love the food. We had a decent New Orleans style restaurant in Tampa–Harry’s–which decided to shut its doors. I complained and asked when they’d be opening in a new location (it’s a small chain), and they told me to go to Lakeland. Lakeland! Ha!

                  1. I mean, what’s in Lakeland? When Holy Obama blesses Tampa and Kissimmee with a Mighty Bullet Train, do you think it’s going to stop in Lakeland? Ha!

    2. Steve Smith hards Xeones, sometimes. Xeones is all like, “no, no, Steve Smith, don’t rape me right now!” as he fumbles for the bottle of warming Astroglide.

      1. Looks like somebody’s fantasies are bleeding over again.

        1. It’s only a fantasy if it’s not true.

        2. Bleeding is either a really unfortunate word to use there, or absolutely the correct one.

          1. Blood is an excellent lubricant.

            1. This and more in Steve Smith’s upcoming biography, “I like it when they struggle.”

              1. Damn, you are on fire today, Naga. Did you do a few lines or something?

                1. Nah. The stars are right in the heavens. Like Cthulhu, I have been awakened.

              2. Ghostwritten by Barack Obama, of course.

                1. You fool! You dare refer to LoneWacko as such? You shall be smited with his scathing posts against MassiveSubsidies brought about by IllegalImmigrants!

  14. Give the people money? That sounds like a tax cut! [Points finger and makes screeching sound ? la Donald Sutherland in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.]

    Next you’ll want wholesale deregulation like that damned Bush foisted on us when he wasn’t hiding bin Laden in Las Vegas!

    1. binLadin is hiding out in a Denver coffee bar rubbing his shaven chin, man, get your facts rights.

  15. I remember a video not so far back that said we simply could have not collected income taxes for a year…the sum spent on the stimulus being roughly the same amount of money.

    1. I heard that idea–awesome. Instant recession killer. With multipliers!

      1. Not awesome for the statists, and with good reason: One year without taxation and we’d all start talking about how much of it was ‘temporary’ taxation that never went away, and perhaps we’d be a bit critical of resuming confiscation without honest reformation/reorganization.

        You cannot be granted real liberty for even a minute lest you acquire a taste for it.

        1. Boot must not leave neck! Did we learn nothing from the fall of the Soviet Union?

  16. Warty, i know that thought really, er, stimulates your economy, but we try to keep it classy here at Hit’n’Run.

  17. If $150 billion is good, why stop there? Why not $300 billion? $600 billion? Just keep spending!!!!!

  18. Ghostwritten by Barack Obama, of course.

    Ghostghostwritten by Bill Ayers, right?

  19. No, Xeones. Our 44th president, Barack Hussein Obama, doesn’t need any help when the subject is rape.

  20. Obama=Steve Smith? This explains so much.

  21. “I’m just a president. I only know words like hope… and stimulus… and rape.”

  22. “And, technically, he’s supposed to be spayed, and uh, he ain’t that. I know that first hand. Go ahead, ask me how I know. Go ahead. Ask me. Ask me how I know.”

  23. “Hey! I saw you checking out my goods! You want a sample? A little try-before-you-buy, eh? Come here, bitch, stand and deliver!”

  24. Give a man $230,000 and he lives well for nine months.

    Teach a man to provide profitable labor and he may live for a life-time, but in neosocialism, Keynseism, in the long-term, we’re all dead.

    Eat, drink and be merry, for in the long-term we will all be dead.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.