There’s an old joke in which a guy doesn’t take any time off because he doesn’t want the folks at work to know they can live without him. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is busy once again proposing yet another inane and archaic program to distract from the fact that the country doesn’t need him or the socialism he wants to implement.
Senator Sanders is proposing to guarantee every unemployed American a government job. Under his desultory endeavor, jobless Americans would work for the federal government, earning $15 per hour plus benefits.
He has yet to determine the cost estimates of this ambitious idea or how it would be funded. His handlers note that a complete plan will be released soon. But you can mortgage the farm that Sanders will come up with an uncreative and predictable funding mechanism: tax the top 1%.
Experts already project that the large-scale government works initiative would cost approximately $2 trillion per year, which could very well exceed the annual price-tags of Social Security and Medicaid. Plus, as it is the nature of government, the scheme would only expand as the years go by, or until the swamp can no longer afford it.
For Sanders and his ilk, that’s not the point. It’s all about worthless state jobs, forget the consequences. The former presidential candidate says his concept would address important national priorities, such as education, the environment, infrastructure, and healthcare.
Critics warn that currency inflation would ensue, the federal budget would be more bloated than it currently is, and the program could be abused for political aims. These are legitimate concerns, but dissenters should really lose sleep at night over how it defies elementary economics and brings backs memories of the Soviet Union.
At ease, comrade!
What is Seen and Unseen
The Sanders plan is merely another case of “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen.”
It’s an economic idea developed by legendary French economist Fredric Bastiat, arguing that the public can see the supposed benefits of a government project, but they don’t see the myriad other goods and services that cannot be produced, consumed, or enjoyed because the resources were misallocated and devoted to a state scheme.
For instance, the population will notice their fellow man working to dig ditches and refill holes. This will make the electorate pleased and our overlords will inform us of the wonderful job they’re doing. You routinely witness this today at every single ribbon-cutting ceremony; smiling officials who have constructed a bridge to nowhere or a subway that was unnecessary. At the same time, we won’t see the potential businesses that weren’t established or new products that went unmade.
For every ditch digging job created, a job somewhere else in the private sector is eliminated.
It doesn’t even need to be about breaking up the earth. What if the government manufactures goods people don’t want? What if the government hires people to just shift paperwork around? What if the government spends billions of dollars to go to the moon?
The supply of labor is limited, so why waste it on tommyrot tasks that don’t need to get done? Yes, unemployment remains an issue, but government is typically the cause of joblessness.
Moreover, if the stimulus efforts cost $2 trillion, then that is $2 trillion extracted from taxpayers. That’s less money to expand a start-up, invest in a stock, or take a vacation to Venice.
Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Get Economics
Throughout history, governments have always had their own incarnations of wasteful public works schemes. During the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte, he conjured up a panacea that would cure his nation’s economic woes: institute a measure that had people digging ditches and refilling them. This presented the illusion that the economy was being stimulated, the public was hard at work, and they were contributing to society. Other governments traveled down the same path in the years that followed.
The Napoleonic economic premise became the backbone of Keynesian economics. In fact, it even prompted its founder, John Maynard Keynes, to petition Washington during the Great Depression to adopt a similar policy of hiring Americans to make holes in the ground and fill them back up. Former Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn’t go that far, but they still introduced a series of public jobs for national relief as part of the New Deal.
Years later, the prominent socialist politician is submitting a comparable communist proposal. You could aver this is a new New Deal, but Americans are still paying for the old New Deal.
By embracing public works projects, we abandon other pursuits that we wanted to do or really needed. Unfortunately, politicians of all stripes behave in this manner. One Republican leader may want to pad the gross domestic product (GDP) numbers, while another Democratic head of state wants to deceive his constituents by creating a disingenuous economic recovery.
Wasteful actions are commonplace and worthless trade takes place.
Sure, Sanders may employ 50 million Americans to intrude on the lives of innocent bystanders, push around paperwork, and dig ditches. Eventually, as time goes by, the nation will realize, like the earlier yarn suggests, that it can do without these overpaid, underworked civil servants.