Government employees

Media Matters: These $2 Million Jobs Would Look Like A Bargain If They Could Just Spend the Money Faster


Wendy Greuel

Yesterday Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel released audit results of two city agencies that have received more than $111 million in ARRA stimulus money. As Peter Suderman noted today, the total number of jobs the departments eventually plan to retain or create (264) means taxpayers would be paying more than $400,000 per job. As I noted yesterday, the total number of jobs the Departments of Transportation and Public Works have actually retained or created (fewer than 55) would make the price $2 million per job.

Media Matters doesn't like the wave of $2-million-job stories that followed the report the way a cold beer follows a hot workday. So after a laundry list of stories from the "right-wing media"—a list Reason (sniff!) didn't make—it states: "In fact, Los Angeles did not 'spend' $2 million per job."

Since I didn't make that claim (and most of the people Media Matters calls out didn't either), I'm not sure what this correction amounts to. In my view the national news media should be even more incensed that American taxpayers—rather than just L.A. taxpayers—have spent $111 million in the City of the Angels and essentially have made no dent in unemployment, at a time when the Obama brain trust wants us to think the recession is over or winding down. That the two departments were given $111 million is not in doubt. That they retained or created fewer than 55 jobs with that money is not in doubt. They may claim that 200 more jobs are on the way, but the facts are so far not there. (And if past ARRA performance is any guide, they never will be.) Moreover, as Greuel notes repeatedly in her reports, the two agencies' accounting of how they're spending these taxpayer-funded windfalls is so poor that any such claims should be treated with skepticism.

So is the case supposed to be less objectionable because the DOT and DPW have not been spending money fast enough?

Sometimes things look bad because they are bad. That can be true even when the right-wing media believe it.


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  1. Sometimes things look bad because they are bad.

    Crypto-alt-text joke. Cool.

    1. I’ve commented before that at reason, I only have cached images on by default. So when I saw the Wendy Greuel alt-text, my immediate thought was, “How long is it going to take before some idiot bitches about the alt-text on this image?” It took all of ten minutes.

      If you want better alt-texts, pay for them. It’s the libertarian way.

  2. Whether or not Reason was specifically named, the slimy tentacle of the Kochtopus is obviously at work here

    1. How dare those evil plutocrats fund media that doesn’t support the administration.

      Its high treason!

      1. “Its high treason!”

        It will be if I have My Way.

        1. Doesn’t the WH have a website where people like Greg can report those who spread these salacious stories (even if true)? Or is that just for Obamacare?

          1. Whoa whoa now… even if I wasn’t being sarcastic up there I still wouldn’t stoop to ratting people out. I mean, ask Weigel about what we do with rats around here…

    2. This looks to be the first major battle between the Kochtopus and the TyrannaSoros Rex. I believe there could be a series of movies in the making not seen this side of the Pacific.

      I can’t wait for the seque:l Kochtopus vs. Mecha SEIUminator.

    3. Don’t like it, Greg?

      Don’t read it.

      Slink back over to MediaMatters where you belong.

      1. Dude, seriously. Sarcasm. I thought the terminology made it obvious enough, who says things like “slimy tentacle of the Kochtopus” seriously (don’t answer that Chony)?

        1. Sorry, it’s hard to tell sometimes.

  3. Has the Left declared war on long division?

    1. Well Orwell had the bit in 1984 (though that was simple addition).

      Orwell really is worth examining as a socialist who feared what his fellow socialists might do with the reins of government under their control. His conclusions on the solutions to such issues differed greatly from classical liberals and libertarians, but his fears of an overreaching government even in the hands of the so called “right people” is remarkably similar.

      1. “but his fears of an overreaching government even in the hands of the so called “right people” is remarkably similar.”

        That attitude is more common among liberals than most here seem to think, but sadly still not nearly common enough lately…

        1. Truly? Please point me to some websites (blogs, mags like Reason, whatever) where that is the prevailing attitude, or at least a strong sentiment. I’m not trying to make a point, my interest is serious.

          1. I think most commenters here would hold that processes, not “the right people” are critical to having a government less conducive to tyranny:


            A lot of the blogs they link to are in the same vein.

      2. So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.

    2. The scores were too low. So a new standardized relative measure of what constitutes a correct answer with respect to long division questions is being used. This is not a war on long division, but a war on a racist, gender biased, ideologically flawed mathematical system. But it’s all better and fixed now.

      1. +whatever you need it to be.

    3. It’s part of the New Math…

  4. Sometimes things look bad because they are bad.
    If it looks like a turd and smells like a turd is there really a reason to taste it to prove it is a turd?

    (this has proven to be a good metric for identifying morons)

  5. Better smear it on taxpayers faces and let them taste it, just to be sure.

  6. I swear to god, liberals get dumber by each passing day.

    1. Please, AC.

      If you had been triumphant in 2006 and 2008, and believed it was Your Moment, and it was finally your chance to Undo to Reagan Revolution, Restore Progressive Principles and Fundamentally Change the United States of America, and you saw your opponents in disarray, their name become “toxic” and their party on its way to the graveyard … and it all fall apart in a mere eighteen months, well, you’d be irrationally angry, too.

      1. No, they are just at a greater level of anger, they’ve been irrationally angry since at least 2000. It’s just that in ’08 they thought they won and they did not have to deal with the right as serious force anymore, but they’sve always been irrational.

      2. Wouldn’t that actually be a rational reason to be angry? If you’d said that 18 months ago the Team Blue would be losing the House, and have a legitimate shot to lose the Senate, and Obama would be flirting with Bushian approval levels, you’d have been laughed at.

        I think this is the most rational they’ve been in their anger since… oh… 92?

    2. Yeah, what Apologetic said.

  7. I love the scare quotes around spend.

    Also, the whole indirect effects argument is such bullshit. They can’t show a real marginal effect on outside job creation by spending an exorbitant amount of money on the few jobs they created. They definitely can’t show that these government jobs have a better effect on the economy than letting businesses keep the money and create jobs that actually produce something.

  8. Why do you keep calling it the “City of THE Angels”? It’s just the “City of Angels”. The city of the Angels is Anaheim.

    1. Because of a silliness in translating articles from another language. Makes it sound like Hercule Poirot.

    2. If you translate the name of the baseball club in Anaheim word for word, it’s The The Angels Angels of Anaheim.

  9. Foolish right-wing media! Have no faith in the multiplier fairies?

  10. Wouldn’t it have done more to provide “stimulus” and to provide succor to the unemployed if they had just picked out 10,000 Los Angeles UI claimants at random, sent them letters instructing them to pick up litter in their neighborhoods, and added 10k to their overall UI benefit?*

    *Insert libertarian disclaimer.

    1. You’re implying that any of the “help the poor” schemes is actually intended, at any point in the process, to, you know, help poor people.

      That is simply not part of the plan.

    2. I am pretty sure that anybody with an IQ above room temperature can come up with multiple reasonable schemes how to “create or retain jobs” at $5K-$15k per job per year.

      I think they are redirecting the “stimulus” money elsewhere. Fill some holes in their overall budget, a nice building for the administration, whatever.

  11. Media Matters’ refutation of the job creation numbers may in fact be correct, because they just haven’t spent the money yet.

    What I don’t get is how the city squatting on a pile on unspent cash squares with the legislative stampede created in ’09 to pass ever-larger Stimulus Packages.

    Maybe that is the genius of being an exploiter of other peoples’ fears: years later when you look at the written record, it is impossible to understand the ‘reasoning’ that lead those jacakasses to do things they did – you just had to be there at the time.

    1. You have to spend when you’re in debt! Obey me!

      1. Mr. Krugman,

        Please give us a call regarding your current FICO score adjustment.

  12. Correction: Sometimes things look bad when they are even worse than is apparent.

    It’s like a watermark on a ceiling. Painting over it does nothing to kill the mold and mildew that is growing on the other side of the gypsum board.

  13. WE know what’s best for America, so shut the fuck up and agree with Our President.

    1. No, WE’RE right! You MediaMatters types are too right-wing! Impure! Impure!!!

      1. Slackers, all of you! What are YOU doing to eviscerate the proletariat?

        Yeah, that’s what we thought.

        1. Settle down, all of you. You are ALL My children. Just keep believing in Me, and all will be well.

          Of course, we’ll have to purge The Movement of the infidels who believe in any kind of Tenth Amendment nonsense, property rights, or the ability to hold any amount of wealth, but all in due time. My Plans will come to fruition soon enough.

          1. We hear and obey!

  14. I think the Whitehouse should be thrilled with the coverage that LA is getting. This way the Joe Biden “100 days – 100 projects” report that was released this week is being ignored. Here’s the opening sentence of the 2nd paragraph of the report:

    “In the first 100 days since President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, we have obligated more than $112 billion, created more than 150,000 jobs and helped communities and tribes in every state and territory.”

    Do the math – that’s $750,000 per job and this is supposed to be the BEST stimulus projects. Can no one in the mainstream media do basic arithmetic anymore?

    Shoot, I’ll create a job for a mere third of these “best” projects. As soon as I get my government check for $250,000, I promise I’ll go out and hire a personal assistant. I’ll only hire them for a year and I won’t pay them more than $30,000 but I’ll need the rest of the government handout for overhead.

  15. $400k per job “created” isn’t acceptable, either.

    1. It’s acceptable to me!

  16. Tell me how you would spend money and NOT create jobs.

    You can’t. No matter what you spend it on, you create jobs producing whatever good or service you buy. Trying to “count” them is a stupid and pointless exercise, as you quickly run into a brick wall of trying to determine how many fractional workers went into producing every element of every component of every bit of whatever you bought. When attempted, these silly exercises are unable to do anything other than count the obvious and proximate jobs, and utterly fail to count the indirect ones. Calculating the ratio of “money spent per job we can sort-of count” is meaningless.

    1. Is this real Chad or Fake Chad?

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