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The Raw New Deal

At this point, since our addled Commander-In-Chief (God, help us) has no idea who or where he is, he’s apparently mistaken himself for FDR. (That’s why the leadership of the United States is viewed so highly in other parts of the world.) You remember FDR. He’s the guy who prolonged the Great Depression by spending money that didn’t exist, making open-ended promises with close-ended funding, and subjecting the people who most needed help to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Not to be outdone by FDR, Uncle Joe is now touting two budget-breakers: The first is the American Jobs Plan of 2021. The second is the INVEST in America Act, which is a part of the American Jobs Plan.

The INVEST in INVEST in America stands for Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation. I’m not so sure. I’m more inclined to believe INVEST stands for Improvident Nitwits Violating Economic Sense Totally. Either way, here’s what’s going on:

The measure would dedicate $343 billion to roads, bridges and safety, $109 billion to transit, and $95 billion to passenger and freight rail. It would also commit $117 billion to drinking water infrastructure and over $51 billion to wastewater infrastructure … The president is also committed to supporting a larger bill to address Democratic priorities that aren’t included in the bipartisan measure.

Setting aside whatever else is up Uncle Joe’s sleeve, let’s start with this $715 billion. Here’s what we’re getting for the increasing rates of taxation we’ll pay:

In addition to massively increasing public spending, it would also disproportionately privilege little-used transit programs compared with roads that people do use and hurt America’s successful freight rail industry … Part of the reason it does so is because it reintroduces earmarks — otherwise known as “pork” — into the process … the bill lists nearly 1,500 projects designated by House lawmakers for funding … Building new road projects because they are actually needed — rather than pleasing politicians — is apparently not the purpose of this legislation.

And just when you thought your wallet was already light enough, there’s this:

Beyond that, the bill goes into overdrive by adding large sums on new programs designed to implement the president’s (unrelated) climate agenda … and building a network of electric-vehicle charging stations. The latter item should raise an eyebrow … Charging stations built based around what the federal government wants consumers to want rather than what they actually want are unlikely to survive.

If those things were in an episode of Grandpa Knows Best, maybe. But they’re not. They’re part of the reality we have to live, the reality we have to pay for, and the reality that will come to a hideous, crashing end as soon as the money runs out. When that happens, you can be sure there will be much weeping, gnashing of teeth, surprise (some feigned, some genuine), outrage, and blame. You can be equally sure none of that blame will be directed at ourselves for letting it happen. And make no mistake: We’re definitely letting it happen.

And all that brings us, of course to the American Jobs Plan of 2021 (AJP).

Can we stop here for a second?

There are only two ways in which government can create jobs: (1) It can hire people to work in the public sector, in which case it’s using tax dollars to pay the salaries of those people. Or (2) it can pay private-sector entities to hire people to work in the private sector, in which case it’s using tax dollars to pay the entities that pay the salaries of those people. Can we please put to rest the notion that governments create jobs? Governments don’t create anything except more government and more overhead. And we pick up the tab for both.

End of tangent.

Channeling his inner FDR, Uncle Joe is swinging for the fences here. If you already don’t have $715 billion, another $487 billion is something less than chump change. It shows a complete lack of imagination. It betrays week knees and a weaker stomach, a faint heart and bush-league ambition. As the juice-monkeys say in the gym, “Get big or stay home.” Or as my big sister loves to say, “No guts, no air medals.”

Yeah, except for the fact that:

It is unlikely that Biden is familiar with the “broken window” concept or any of [Frédéric] Bastiat’s economic wisdom. If he were, he probably would not have advocated a plan that is unlikely to benefit anyone that it is supposedly intended to help. The AJP calls for $213 billion to “produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live,” a $174 billion investment in the electric vehicle (EV) market, and $100 billion to “build high-speed broadband infrastructure to reach 100 percent coverage” … Biden has never bothered explaining why two million homes need to be built or retrofitted, nor has he said what the demand is for building 500,000 EV charging stations or broadband infrastructure … [or pointed] out that 313 million Americans, or 85 percent of citizens, already have access to the internet. Instead of letting the consumers dictate what they want to do with their own money, Biden is creating an artificial supply that is not contingent on a market-based demand. Forcing the taxpayer to hire Democrat-run union workers to rebuild something that most Americans do not need does not stimulate economic growth.

Well, you can’t hate a guy for trying, right? If you don’t know what you don’t know, if you don’t care to learn what you don’t know, if simple math escapes you, and if you have gullible constituencies hanging on every vote-grubbing, pandering promise you make, ya gotta do what ya gotta do, no? Not necessarily. It depends on every cost incurred beyond the end of feel-good noses:

Bastiat writes that “Society loses the value of things which are uselessly destroyed … to break, to spoil, to waste, is not to encourage national labor … destruction is not profit.” Perhaps this is why, as a Penn Wharton Budget Model estimates, the AJP if implemented will cost the American taxpayer $2.7 trillion while raising only $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years. The same study also found that the AJP would increase government debt by 1.7 percent and discourage business investment, thus reducing our GDP to 0.8 percent by 2050 … Biden is using us as pawns. By focusing only on that which is seen, such as new homes or charging stations, Biden will be able to conveniently ignore the unseen consequences of his proposed infrastructure policies, including senselessly increasing our national debt and paying off Democrat cronies.

Maybe this is a good time to do a little of that simple math. Let’s see … add $715 billion and $487 billion … 5 plus 7 … carry the 1 … 2 plus 8 … carry another 1 … that makes 8 plus 4 … there we go: A cool $1.202 trillion in promises. That’s pretty nice spending if you can get it. And now that everybody’s vaccinated, COVID’s gone, the masks are off, and we’ve held all the Fourth of July picnics Uncle Joe gave us permission to hold, we’ll be able to pony up that tax money in no time. Given that fact that the federal deficit is at a paltry $160 trillion, another trillion or so won’t make a bit of difference.

And please, no wet-blanket reminders that the U.S. GDP is projected to be $22.06 trillion this year. With $1.202 trillion in promises and $160 trillion in unfunded liabilities (you might need this), you’d have to be a world-class spoilsport to interject facts, logic, or reality to try to break up this party.

And since we’re all just playing in a pecuniary sandbox anyway, I have an idea:

Now that there’s a private sector duke-out to see who can do whatever they’re going to do in space first — and since $2.9 billion of NASA’s $23.3 billion tax dollars are going to that private-sector titan and all-around EV-touting good guy, Elon Musk — why don’t we let Uncle Joe and his pals use the $20.4 billion left over in NASA budget after Elon gets his cut of our tax dollars as funny money? Then he’ll only have to promise $1,180,600,000,000 to fund the INVEST in America Act and the American Jobs Plan. He’ll be a hero … at least until he and his government pals come up with their next scheme for inflicting the Law of Unintended Consequences on us. Until then, as the saying goes, it’s only money.

I love the smell of profligacy in the morning.

Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brienhttps://obriencg.com/
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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