More Expensive Than Welfare

Obama and Congressional Democrats seem to have hit upon a way of helping the unemployed that is even more expensive than Welfare.  Many of the stimulus-related jobs programs turn out to spend millions of dollars to preserve just a few jobs.  Their only net benefit is to politicians -- by making certain preferred corporations the intermediary for these funds, these corporations will in turn line politicians' campaign coffers with money, something welfare recipients were never very good at.

A good example is the ongoing fight by Congressman Maurice Hinchey to force the Obama Administration to accept a new helicopter as part of an $835 million dollar program that supports 800 jobs in Mr. Hinchey's district.  TJIC has a very apt counter-proposal:

Instead of spending $835 million, why not just cancel the program and hand each of the workers a $500,000 check with the memo line "welfare - because you produce something no one wants" ?

That'll put food on the table of these 800 workers (for a decade), save us $435,000,000 and maybe teach 800 workers and 1 Democratic politician something about economics.

Yes, but Travis, in your model, who is going to write checks back to Mr. Hinchey?


  1. stan:

    See James Buchanan, nobel winner in economics, on public choice theory.

    This is a great deal for Hinchey and his district. That it sucks for America and its citizens is of no interest to Mr. Hinchey. It would be as good a deal or better (for him) for us to spend twice as much for the same number of jobs.

  2. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon:

    Looking at this totally disfunctional situation from outside the US, it is astonishing how civilised the US population actually is, in putting up with this sort of corruption and blackmail. In large chunks of the world, the prospect that one petty despot would cause that much damage to the populace of the surrounding districts would result in a swift delivery of tar and feathers to the idiot. It would well be worth it for the people of the next district to ensure that Hinchey never got a chance to carry on with this fight. The greater good would be that that money never get spent. The damage that a mere 300 odd Democrats can do to the country is incredible. I prophesy that in the not too distant future, politicians of this sort will be threatened to cease this sort of conduct...A rock or three through a campaign window, repeated, with or without a similar object at home..(although the mistress' apartment might be more 'telling') might just transmit the message.

    Thirty years ago, I was surprised that I never read about any Democrat congresscritter being assassinated for abandoning South Vietnam (and thus, pissing on the graves of the 50,000 plus who gave their lives for the honour of getting their names engraved in black marble). Now, I think that "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more" is more likely to be true. Wish that were not the case......

  3. james:

    @Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    It's absolutely astounding that people are not angrier about this sort of thing. It's not like they're taking $850 million from that district... they're taking it from all the surrounding districts (and the entire country...) as well. The fact that other people don't get angry about this is unbelievable to me.

  4. Andrew:

    Obviously I find the 'Stimulus Bill' and the whole pork barrel thing as despicable as the next man but surely it's worth mentioning that this isn't Stimulus Bill spending, since it is an existing program, and in return for this spend the US does get a fleet of up to date Presidential helicopters with all the necessary whistles and bells, which are needed, since they replace effectively life expired and obsolete existing machines that cost a fortune to maintain. Now without going into the details here, there is some mileage in a discussion on whether the Phase II type should be ditched and just more Phase I design helos be built but it seems to me somewhat insane to throw away the fruits of the existing spend when you need them anyway.

    This isn't a good example of what you want to (rightly) criticise.