Do We Need Another Stimulus?
A Second Stimulus Would Work No Better Than the First
OCTOBER 07, 2009
The New York Times editorial page has spoken: We need another “stimulus” or the economy will be moribund for the foreseeable future. On October 2 Paul Krugman declared:
Yes, the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration have pulled us “back from the brink” — the title of a new paper by Christina Romer, who leads the Council of Economic Advisers. She argues convincingly that expansionary policy saved us from a possible replay of the Great Depression.
But while not having another depression is a good thing, all indications are that unless the government does much more than is currently planned to help the economy recover, the job market — a market in which there are currently six times as many people seeking work as there are jobs on offer — will remain terrible for years to come.
As if on cue, the Times editorialized two days later:
If successful, ambitious goals like health care reform and energy legislation may generate jobs, but officials have not persuasively linked them to job growth. Congress and the administration also have not done enough to directly create jobs. That could be done with more stimulus to spur job creation, or a large federal jobs program, or tax credits for hiring, or all three.
The truth is elsewhere. First and most important, the economy continues to shed jobs more than two years into the recession because government has increased the burdens private firms and individuals must bear. From tax increases to a gaggle of new rules and regulations to the bailouts, government has done nearly everything it should not be doing if it wants a real recovery to take place.
Second, it is clear that the politicians in Washington are just getting started. From the appointment of numerous “czars” over different sectors of the economy to the “ambitious” plans for remaking medical care and imposing huge new environmental burdens, it is clear that President Obama and Congress believe that the economic downturn is an excuse for an upturn of State control of our lives.
If there is any “recovery,” it is a false recovery, one based not on any tangible economic progress but rather on financial trickery and printing money. Our “recovery” is a fraud perpetrated by Washington and its Amen Chorus in elite higher education and the mainstream media.
For the U.S. economy to have a real recovery, the economy first must shed the huge number of malinvestments that piled up like garbage on New York streets during the last unsustainable boom. Unfortunately, as the economy dumps these failed investments, that means people who were employed in those areas also lose their jobs, which simply is unacceptable to the political classes.
Had the Bush and Obama administrations left the economy alone, those malinvestments would have been shed quickly and the economy now would be moving toward a real recovery that could be sustained over time, employing new people in those sectors. Alas, the political classes believe that “inactivity” is anathema, so Bush and Obama engineered hundreds of billions of dollars of “bailouts,” which have served to prop up whole sectors of failing enterprises.
What does that mean, economically speaking? It means that instead of being directed into those sectors that could have grown without aid from the government, resources are being shoveled into the economic equivalents of bottomless pits. Americans are forced to prop up domestic automakers that are bankrupt, keep zombie financial institutions going on life-supports, engage in energy policies that literally destroy wealth and produce less energy, and to be taxed even more so government can destroy the part of the medical sector it has not already ruined.
In other words, Americans in productive entities are being forced to give up a large chunk of their own wealth o prop up firms and institutions that might be bankrupt but also are politically connected. While the New York Times and its elite economists in tow might claim the government needs to continue this course with another “stimulus,” commonsense economics is telling us that this is a policy that benefits the political classes and their allies and no one else.