No, this isn’t a column on religion. It’s a column on government. But confusing the two is an eminently forgivable error.
Reports the New York Times:
The federal stimulus program has saved or created nearly 650,000 jobs through aid to states, infrastructure projects and federal contracts, the Obama administration claimed Friday morning, adding that officials believe they are on track to meet their goal of 3.5 million jobs over two years.
Creating! Saving! Two things that supporters of government would have us believe it’s all about, but which sound an awful lot like the acts attributed to God by believers:
For Obama so loved America that he gave his only begotten Stimulus, that whosoever believeth in it should not be laid off, but have everlasting job.
The main difference between government and religion is that while religion must be based primarily on faith, there’s actual evidence available for evaluating the claims of government. And those claims are inevitably found wanting.
God created man, the Bible tells us, out of nothing more than dirt and a breath of fresh air. He took inert substances and gave them life. He made things of no particular value into things of great value.
Government does the opposite. To the extent that it “creates” anything, it does so at the expense of better things. It devalues everything it touches. In order to “create” a job that pays $50,000 a year, it takes many multiples of that $50,000 out of the pockets of people who were already creating jobs with it.
Even taking President Obama’s lowball estimate of his “stimulus” program’s cost — about $800 billion — at face value, and giving his jobs figure undue credence, those 650,000 jobs were created (or, to include his fudge, “saved”) at a cost of about $1.2 million each!
Let’s make some very rough and broad assumptions about an average job here — assumptions which I’m pretty sure will make the “stimulus” figures look better, not worse, than warranted.
Let’s assume an annual salary of $50,000 (that’s higher than the actual per capita figure), plus another $50,000 in non-salary costs — the “employer’s share” of payroll taxes, employer-sponsored insurance and bennies, the pro rata cost of running the human resources operation that hires the individual employee, etc.
That brings the cost of a single job to a nice, round $100k.
So, if I give you $1.2 million and tell you to go forth and hire, keeping a fat $200k salary/bonus for yourself, you should be able to “create” ten jobs. Congratulations. You’re ten times as efficient as government, if only half as well paid as Barack Obama and without his extensive package of fringe benefits.
Or, to put it a different way: If Obama is the Messiah, his salvation program requires that ten souls be consigned to hell for each pair of feet set upon the streets of gold he claims to be paving.
And that, friends, is the good news. The bad news is that the actual cost of the “stimulus,” according to various think tank analyses, may have been four times the cost advertised by the White House.
Government doesn’t “create” jobs, nor does it “save” them. It doesn’t perform miracles. Rather, it performs stage magic. It makes things — things like money and jobs — disappear (into its lovely assistants’ pockets) through sleight-of-inefficiency. This is not done for the benefit of the audience.