“The cash grab that went on was just amazing,” Allen Luzak, a weatherization expert with the Delaware Energy Office told the newspaper [Delaware News Journal].

via Obama’s $5 Billion Weatherizing Program Wastes Stimulus Funds, Auditors Find – FoxNews.com.

Advertisements

Follow this link for an interesting little calculator to determine what your share of the $787 (now $862) BILLION stimulus package passed by congress and President Obama is.

Economic Stimulus News and Video – FOX News Topics – FOXNews.com.

The White House says more than 1 million jobs have been saved or created so far, a figure that is so murky it can never be verified.

via Teachers benefit from job-saving stimulus spending – WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-.

If I had to choose one quote that summarized the story from this report it would be this one (emphasis added).  If I had to choose one word, then it would be “murky”.

There is so much from this report that is worthy of a more careful analysis that I think I’ll make a second post with a more thorough analysis (not that I am an ‘expert’ analyst).

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.

“From our standpoint, you know, we think that this gives us a sense of momentum … when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Friday.

via State Department Lauds Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize by Making Jab at Bush – Political News – FOXNews.com.

Ummm…how’s that post-partisanship working out for you?

Critics, however, were stunned at the announcement, given the nomination deadline was Feb.1 — less than two weeks after Obama’s presidency began.

Ummm…the only thing things he had done at that point was announce that he was closing down Guantanamo and sign the $787 Billion stimulus bill.  So far, he hasn’t accomplished much with either one of those acts (Gitmo is still open and the economy still drags on with almost 10% unemployment).

Here is a video of Bernie Sanders (hold your guffaws) bloviating on the Senate floor about rural dairy farmers on the verge of collapse.  Listen to the first minute (if you can) and you’ll get a flavor of the man and his mission.

Bernie Sanders on the floor of the U.S. Senate

If you can’t bear to watch, here is a transcript of the first minute of the video:

I wanted to take a few  minutes right now to touch on an issue that in fact has not gotten a lot of discussion here in Congress and that is that family based dairy agriculture is on the verge of collapse.  This is not a regional issue this is a national issue.  From the east coast to the west coast what we are seeing is prices plummeting for dairy farmers way below the cost of production and if congress does not act all over America rural communities are going to be suffering  economically, people are going to be losing their jobs, and the American people increasingly will not be able to obtain fresh locally produced food.  And as we talk about stimulus; as we talk about trying to revive this economy lets remember rural America and lets remember the dairy farmers throughout this country who are producing an important part of the food we consume.

Later on, Sanders talks about how people don’t want to get their food from China* (I haven’t checked, are there any Chinese food products in the American market?).  I’ll stay focused on one point that he emphasizes in the video above: If Congress does not act.  Sanders, an avowed socialist, is nothing if not honest about who he is and what he believes in.  He believes sincerely (I think) that they only way to solve the problem of milk prices is for the United States Congress to do something about it.

His amendment (SA 2276) to the agricultural appropriations bill (H.R. 2997) allocates an additional $350 million to help raise prices paid to dairy farmers.  Compared to the billions being thrown around in Congress, $350 million is a drop in the bucket, but the thought process behind it is still dangerous (and costly – a million dollars  is still a million dollars no matter how small it may seem to someone of Sander’s position and influence).  To think that he can, with a stroke of the legislative pen, alleviate the plight of thousands of farmers around the country and that this is merely a step to solving the problem of price fluctuations is ridiculous.

The money will do little to nothing to save the family farms.  Which is precisely what works well with his agenda.  When farmers continue to go bankrupt Sanders has room to maneuver and claim that what Congress did before was inadequate and now they must do something more.  Ultimately, his vision would be one where the bureaucrats close to the Capitol would masterfully orchestrate the entire dairy industry (along with the auto industry, the banking industry, etc.).

There is always hope that the voters of Vermont will realize that what Sanders wants for the country is not in keeping with their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Because Vermont seems to attract liberals and repel conservatives, my hope may not be the same kind prophesied by Barack Obama, but it is hope nonetheless.

*I find Bernie’s obsession with China quixotic.  On one hand, the Chinese espouse and practice the socialist/communist ideals that Bernie cherishes.  On the other hand, he consistently vilifies them for flooding our markets with cheap goods.  Similarly, he heralds the cause of the working class citizens of America, but seems to have no respect for the working class citizens of China (or other countries for that matter).