Many web-logs have already commented on the Obama claim that in the first 100 days of his administration the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has already saved or created 150,000 jobs. Confidence was also bumptiously asserted that the underlying “Plan” remained on course to save or create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010.
Now even that fabled little kid who remarked on the Emperor’s fantasy wardrobe could spot the self-delusion about these “accomplishments”. The “objective” news media in the United States is still on its Kool-Aid drinking honeymoon with the new Emperor. Meanwhile the internet rebels are having a great time pointing out the continuing net losses of jobs in the American economy.
An effort to look at the whole picture is in order. It was Bastiat, the 19th century French philosopher of political economy and the law, who pointed out the often overlooked “unseen” element of positive claims about certain economic events. He noted that the immediate impact of a policy was always visible, but that the unseen emerged subsequently. Bastiat also declared that it was a bad economist who only considered the “seen”.
In the case of the 150,000 jobs mentioned, even if that claim could be verified, one must also consider what will be the unintended consequences of the stimulus plan on the economy in the future. The diversion of capital alone will be devastating to the prospects for small business, which often accounts for much of the real job creation. But will the political and economic elite seriously consider these unintended consequences? Remember, Congress approved the $780 Billion stimulus and it was signed into law by the President without a single person having read it. How likely is it that the “unseen” was or ever will be considered by these despots?
The Bastiat essay, What is Seen and What is Not Seen, is readily understandable to the contemporary reader and is highly recommended.
Copyright 2009 Edward Podritske