Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM & FM, Friday, August 12, 2011.
Prior to leaving for ten days vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, the president announced that he will give a major policy address regarding jobs and the economy on Monday, September 5. This time it won’t be an Obama speech as usual, the president promises. This time it will be “very specific.” It won’t just “recycle old plans” (it being difficult indeed to recycle that which has never existed).
Already, Democrats are saying that some sort of stimulus will be necessary in order to “get the economy moving” and give employers confidence to begin hiring again. They won’t call it stimulus, of course. Stimulus is now a dirty word. But if a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, the Democrats will find a word less malodorous than stimulus.
So when the president makes his major policy address, and proposes yet more of the Keynesian programs that will cost billions of dollars today, and promises to “pay” for those plans with the unspecified expenditure reductions of tomorrow, let’s all make it a point to remember the following story.
Last year, on the eve of Earth Day, the mayor of Seattle and Vice President Joe Biden stood side by side at the White House to announce a home weatherization program for the city. The program was funded by a $20 million federal grant.
In a green-jobs-save-the-Earth-lift-up-the-downtrodden policy triumph, the program was to create work for Seattle’s unemployed while shrinking the city’s carbon footprint.
The mayor and the vice president were nearly beside themselves with self-satisfied excitement. The program called for the creation of 2,000 so-called “pathway” jobs for the benefit of the city’s unemployed and the retrofitting of upwards of 2,000 homes, mostly in poor neighborhoods, with attic and crawlspace insulation.
It all just glowed with eco-liberal promise. The chronically jobless would be given a much-needed leg up to “living wage” employment. Utility bills would come down. The Earth-killing greenhouse gas emissions from those heretofore leaky homes would be reduced. A “triple win” as Vice President Biden characterized it.
So, a year and three months later, how’s this eco-friendly $20 million government-funded jobs bonanza working out?
For the answer to that, we have the reporting of Seattle’s KOMO-TV. According to them, the program has so far retrofitted three entire homes and has hired all of fourteen workers, few of whom are employed in those once dreamed of entry-level “pathway” jobs. As of last week, only 337 homeowners had even bothered to apply for the program.
In other words, it’s exactly what we have come to expect from high-sounding, much-ballyhooed, taxpayer-funded liberal boondoggle programs. The intentions are noble. The results are embarrassing. It happens every time.
Yet liberals never learn. They live in an insulated parallel universe in which good intentions are never sullied by actual results. Thus insulated they are, in this example, not confronted by two painfully obvious truths that the rest of us can’t help but see.
First, to the extent that there is a need and a desire to retrofit homes in Seattle for better energy efficiency, an entrepreneur either has or will figure it out on his own and go buy the materials and hire the workers himself using his own money. No White House photo-op necessary.
Second, if your program requires people living in low-income households to do something in the name of thrift, weatherize a house for example, forget it. It’s the people who pay all of their own bills that weatherize. People who live largely on government assistance have no need, no desire and no perceived responsibility. Why be bothered if someone else is buying your food and giving you walking around money? Hassle with insulating the house? No way. If the heating or cooling bill gets too high, you simply demand that government give you more money.
Which underscores the fact that no matter how much the government does to help the poor, as we now define the poor in America, it will never be enough.
And we wonder why the country’s broke.
Keep all of this in mind on September 5 as you listen to the president’s speech.