Highlighting different examples, the authors of the report argue that marriage and family play key roles “in sustaining long-term economic growth, the viability of the welfare state, the size and quality of the workforce, and the profitability of large sectors of the modern economy.”

via Marriage, Family and Economic Growth.

 

The following excerpts are from this article in the Burlington Free Press: http://m.burlingtonfreepress.com/topheadlines/article?a=2011303120004&f=1376

Vermont Green, a public-private partnership to promote green jobs in the state that received nearly $5 million in federal funding, has expanded its definition beyond weatherization and the energy sector to include sustainable agriculture.

How much more will we expand the definition if green jobs? I use a SMART Board in my classroom and hardly use any paper any more, am I working in a green job? Seriously, we’ll start modifying the definition until it ceases to have meaning (like the whole idea of tolerance) and in the meantime those grants will keep pumping more and more money into these public-private partnerships.

David Rubin is the director of workforce development for the Central Vermont Community Action Council, and also heads Vermont Green, which launched in January 2010 and will run through January 2012, unless Rubin is able to find more grant money to keep the project going.

Why do we need to spend money on these types of projects? And it isn’t just any money, its taxpayer money.

“We’re actually working right now with the state Department of Commerce to help create enough funding so we can grow as rapidly as we need to,” McCormick said. “We’re looking at bringing in 18 jobs in the next five years in Vermont, including everything from engineering to finance, algae research technicians, greenhouse operators and laborers in the greenhouse.”

Stop the press! 18 jobs in five years! Eureka!

“Broadly speaking the green economy is at the heart of what Vermont is all about,” she said. “It’s about our culture.”

I would need to some research, but I suspect that tourism ranks much closer to the top of what lies at the heart of the Vermont economy.

And as for our culture…I thought we were supposed to cherish rugged individualism and self-reliance. I didn’t realize that you need grant money to be self-reliant.

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The Vermont House is ready to raise a slew of taxes impacting everyone from homeowners to hospitals.

via Vt. House ready to raise a slew of taxes – WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-.

You might think that this would lead to a critical piece on taxes and how the taxes might have an impact on the residents of Vermont and the economy. You would be wrong. Instead, capture the near-breathless manner intoned to share this bit of good news (the very next line):

The entire revenue package raises more than $28 million in new taxes.

Wow! Isn’t that great! New taxes will raise more than $28 million! Gee, that’s swell! (Sorry to all you saps who will have to pick up the tab for that $28 million.)

Here is the big problem I have with that first paragraph: it assumes that all spending patterns/behaviors will remain the same once the taxes take effect. It’s a bad assumption and poor reporting.

If you tax Product A (i.e. raise its price), then it will probably lead to some change in purchasing habits of those who bought Product A at a formerly less expensive price. They may buy less of Product A, they may switch to a competitively priced version of Product A (found in a different market?), or they may stop purchasing Product A altogether.

If I had the time to follow this up when all was said and done, then I suspect I would find that the revenues that they hope to raise from these increased taxes will not reach their proposed $28 million mark.

Well, at least governor Schumlin comes out against a certain tax; the cigarette tax:

“It seems to me illogical that we would ask a factory worked making 9,10,11 dollars an hour to pay 27 cents more for a pack of cigarettes and then tell the dentists who refuse to see Medicaid and Medicare patients that they are off the hook,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

Can you say class warfare?

Or perhaps you smell an acrid, nicotine-flavored smoke coming from the back rooms of Shumlin’s office. (I am merely making a conjecture that his opposition to the cigarette tax could be motivated by a less pure motive like protecting a financial supporter. I don’t know if he has any ties to any tobacco companies. Wouldn’t it be interesting if he did…) The one tax where the health nuts in office actually want and expect to change purchasing behavior and the governor comes out against it. Huh?

Here’s the best part (in my humble opinion)…

Meanwhile, back on the House floor a small group of Progressives and Democrats tried to raise the income tax. The group wanted an income surcharge on the state’s highest earners.

“There are times when a legislative body has to step up and step up to the plate and become the social conscience of the people who are going without many necessities,” said Rep. Paul Poirier, I-Barre City.

But the House leadership and the governor strongly opposed the measure– 23 members supported the surcharge, 117 voted no– a strong victory for the governor and House Speaker Shap Smith, as a tax package makes its way through the Legislature. But many on the House floor believe they’ll be debating taxes again.

They (Shumlin & Smith) want to raise taxes all over the board in an attempt to raise $28 million and because they vote down a proposed income tax surcharge on the state’s “highest earners” we’re supposed to see that as a victory? Way to go boys. Thanks for sticking up for the taxpayers!

Vermont’s manufacturing sector is as important, and large, in this state as it is nationally,  It’s not true that Vermont’s manufacturing sector is smaller than in most states nor is it true that manufacturing is shrinking, at least in terms of output.  That the number of workers it takes to produce that larger amount of output is falling is primarily due to productivity, not to firms shipping their production offshore.  Rising productivity in manufacturing or anywhere else in the economy is a sign of health, not of decline.

http://www.vermonttiger.com/content/2011/03/vermont-myths-and-realities-i.html

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The rise is partly a result of seasonal factors but also reflects the job market’s weakness.

via FOXNews.com – New Jobless Claims Jump by 37,000 After Hitting 2-Year Low.

The nation’s high unemployment rate is a result of a severe drop in demand for goods and services and is not a reflection of longer-term structural changes in the economy, a top adviser to President Barack Obama said Saturday.

Why is there a drop in demand for goods and services?  Because the government has [HYPERBOLE ALERT] confiscated all of our money and anyone in their right mind is being cautious about how they use what they have left.  Christina Romer, however, will use this drop in demand to increase government spending MORE of our money in order to “stimulate” the economy.  How has that worked for us so far?

“It reflects the fact that we are still feeling the effects of the collapse of demand caused by the crisis,” she said. “Indeed, at one point I had tentatively titled my talk, ‘It’s Aggregate Demand, Stupid,’ but my chief of staff suggested that I find something a tad more dignified.”

No, it isn’t the aggregate demand.  It isn’t even the aggregate supply (although that is something that could more easily be controlled than the demand).  It is the uncertainty caused by a lot of factors, not the least of which is how much will Obama’s new health care reform cost us and will I really be able to keep my insurance.

The Fed cannot actually lower interest rates any more, but Romer cited a study last year that said “economic conditions would lead it to cut its target for the federal funds rate by an additional 5 percentage points if it were able to do so.” She added: “That is, despite the very low level of interest rates and all the attention to the growth of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, current monetary policy is in fact unusually tight given the condition of the economy.”

I am no expert in monetary policy, but does the first sentence even make sense?  “The Fed cannot actually lower interest rates any more, but…they could be cut by an additional 5 percentage points.”  Huh?  To me, it sounds like, if I could make wishes come true, I’d wave my little magic wand and, POOF!, it would all be better.

via Obama adviser ties jobless rate to demand drop: Rutland Herald Online.

In a report due out this week, Vermont officials will conduct the first statewide tally of jobs “created or preserved” by the federal stimulus package. But the figures necessarily will fall well short of the 8,000 jobs projected by federal economists at the outset of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The final calculations won’t be ready until late this week, but Vermont “recovery czar” Tom Evslin says he’s certain the total won’t come close to what was predicted. That doesn’t necessarily mean that many jobs weren’t created or saved; there’s just no way to document the effect.

via Stimulus job tally: Don’t get hopes up: Rutland Herald Online.

Apparently, we’ve changed the language from “create and save” to “create and preserve”.  From the best I can tell from reading this article the change in phrase is coming from the federal government.  What is it that they hope to achieve?  Who are they hoping to fool by changing the words?

In other news, Vermont has a “recovery czar”.  Vermont has a “recovery czar”?  Anyway, he uses the old terminology of “created or saved”.  So which is it?

Either way, I’ve been pondering whether or not “saving” or “preserving” jobs is a worthy endeavor (assuming it is even possible to measure).  It probably depends on what you mean when you say jobs.  If you mean some one working (no matter what their task), then saving a job means keeping that person employed no matter what the financial considerations to the employer.  If you mean a specific task, then saving a job might mean hanging onto to a task that is obsolete and thereby inefficient for the employer.

So, if you go by definition number one, then it seems compassionate to try and “preserve” jobs.  You want people to be employed.  Is it possible to save a such a job?  Too much pizza this weekend is clouding my thinking, so I’ll have to give that answer some more thought.

If you go by definition number two, then it is counterproductive to “preserve” a job.  Employing someone in a role that is no longer needed is not productive and is therefore an unnecessary cost.  Saving jobs in this case is actually costing money that could be used in other, more productive, ways.  A classic definition of economics by Lionel Robbins: Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses. In this case, the money being used by the government has an alternative use: being spent and/or saved by the taxpayer who sent it to the government in the first place.  Of course, the government could just print more money, ending the scarcity problem, but in the process that would distort the value of money and create inflation problems.

Whether you’re intent on saving people from unemployment or saving roles from extinction, the use of the taxpayer stimulus money is not going to have the intended outcome of stimulating the economy.  We’re living through the proof of that right now.