A bully steals the lunch money of 20 people, making them go hungry. But he uses that money to buy lunch for 10 friends. He then proclaims that his actions were positive because 10 people got a free lunch. Ignoring an entire half of the equation (the effect of the money you took) when calculating the effect of your actions is a really stupid way of looking at something like this. Far more jobs were lost because of the recovery act than were "created or saved". It's complete voodoo math to claim otherwise.
This is simply not true. First of all, I love how you compare using tax dollars to stealing money. It's such typical libertarian nonsense. Taxes are the price we pay for a civil society. I'm willing to listen to arguments that some people are taxed too much, but to compare it to stealing is simply wrong.
Stealing is taking something that isn't yours. You're correct that it's *technically* not because taxes are legally applied. But other than that distinction, the analogy is still valid IMO. I agree that taxes are the price we pay for a civil society, but that's not a reason to blindly agree to more taxes for anything someone wants to spend money on. Put another way, we should not assume that since taxes are the price we pay for a civil society that more taxes means a more civil society. The logic doesn't work in the other direction. Not all taxes do actually achieve positive civil outcomes, thus at some point, higher taxes should be viewed as theft. If not, then why don't we just raise taxes on everyone to 100%? Assuming you think there should be some limits on taxes, then we shouldn't just accept any tax as legitimate because it's a tax.
Second, if not for the economic stimulus provided by the Recovery Act, we would have continued our recession, which would have caused millions more lost jobs, stifled economic activity (a killer for a consumption-based economy like ours) and made the first part of the recession look like a walk in the park.
I disagree. I believe that the recession part of the whole mess was more or less finished when the recovery act was passed. What the recovery act did was blunt the recovery which would have naturally occurred once the recession ran its course. It made it take longer for jobs to come back.
No, they wont
Nearly every economist (and everyone worth their salt whatsoever) would tell you the exact same thing.
. Repeating that claim over and over doesn't make it true. There are a hell of a lot of economists who believe that the stimulus was at best a waste of money, and at worse the cause of slower than expected economic recovery. We are still suffering from the effects of the the recovery act in the form of higher deficits and total debt than we'd have had otherwise. This creates a constant sluggish effect on the economy that we will likely be feeling for at least another decade.
Finally, the ancillary benefits of creating and saving those jobs were great.
Except we didn't actually create or save those jobs. That's the problem. No one's doubting that *if* 4.2 million jobs (or whatever number they use) were actually "created or saved", that it would have a beneficial effect. The problem is that there's scant evidence that very many actual productive jobs were created, and those that did were temporary, cost far too much to create, and didn't have the economic effects that were predicted. You're arguing as though the base assumption about job creation is true. But the vote is very much out on that assumption.
Roads, bridges, transit, energy efficiency, clean energy, and much more were boosted. While our infrastructure still needs plenty of work, the Recovery Act and the funding it brought will be an incredible boon for our economy (better roads, fewer bridges in danger of collapsing, etc.) for decades to come. The sad part is that we've followed that (admittedly too small) downpayment on bringing America's infrastructure into the 21st century with a sh*tty, watered-down transportation bill that doesn't address the growing funding gap of the gas tax as we move to more fuel-efficient cars.
There is nearly zero measurable delta between what would have happened in terms of infrastructure without the recovery act versus with it. What happened was that every public project got a "paid for with recovery act dollars" on it, even if they were planned long before the act was passed. This makes some people think that their money was doing something, but in actual fact the real effects from the Act were minimal at best.
But, yeah, other than those things it was terrible.
When you realize that "those" didn't really have much to do with the recovery act itself, yeah. It was pretty terrible. A colossal waste of money.
Also, one need only look at countries implementing austerity measures to see that "starving the beast" isn't working. Here in America, the only significant thing we've gotten from 6 years of President Bush and a Republican Congress and 6 years of a Republican Congress with Bill Clinton is record wealth disparity that benefits only billionaires, leaving the rest of us to fight over a small piece of moldy bread while those at the very top enjoy lobster, caviar, and $5,000 bottles of champagne.
That and significant upward mobility, increased job opportunities, better standard of living, massively increased availability of new tech-based products and services, etc, etc, etc, etc... That also has nothing to do with austerity measures, since we didn't need them back then. You're trying to apply a buzzword label to a situation where it doesn't really fit. If you practice sensible limited government along the way, you don't need to enact sudden and painful austerity measures. It's completely unfair to compare the former to the latter. It's like arguing that eating moderate portions and exercising regularly over the length of your lifetime is a bad idea because when a massively obese person suddenly cuts his food intake to a normal level and starts trying to exercise he has a heart attack and dies. Um... Yeah. The correct answer is to not become that obese in the first place. Austerity is not a normal practice, but an emergency measure taken when someone's failed to apply reasonable limits to government for so long that they have no choice but to "go turkey". And that's going to be painful.
And that's before getting into the issue that many things being called "austerity measures" really aren't about cutting government spending, but about raising taxes on the people to pay for that spending. Which, of course, is the exact opposite direction to go.
The only good, long-term economic policy is one that takes the best of capitalism—mostly free market, competition-based system—and merges it with the best of socialism—public safety net, smart government intervention when needed (like stimulus or helping vital industries in need of restructuring get funding, like the auto industry), progressive tax system, etc.
I think that even attempting to codify it this way is a recipe for disaster. The government's role in the economy should not be trying to make it do something, but allowing it to do what it does best. We should not think in the terms you're using at all IMO.
Now, to me, we should lean more toward the socialism side as it will result in less wealth disparity and a stronger, more prosperous country for all of us. But, I can understand those that wish it to go more to the free market, while still maintaining some semblance of balance. I don't understand those on the extremes on either side, as both those economic systems have been proven time and time again to be failures in their purest forms. I especially don't understand how anyone with an IQ above 40 can buy into the Ayn Rand-bullsh*t being spewed by the Tea Party and other far-right Reactionaries.
I think you're reacting to a straw man version of what conservatives are trying to argue for. Stop listening to liberal talking heads telling you what nonsense the right is trying to do, and maybe talk to some actual conservatives. You might discover it's not so crazy after all. It might even make a hell of a lot of sense. Edited, May 2nd 2013 4:55pm by gbaji