Private vs. Government Economic Stimulus

The New Orleans writer Douglas McCollam, in a recent The Wall Street Journal op-ed, described a New Orleans organization that is having an impact on that city’s economic welfare.  The nonprofit organization, Idea Village, it seems, has in its 10 years of existence helped raise $2.7 million

in seed capital for more than 1,100 local entrepreneurs, creating more than 1,000 jobs and $83 million in annual revenue—and these days helping the city’s unemployment rate stay about a point to a point-and-a-half below the national average.

That’s money raised from private sources and voluntarily paid in, not tax money collected by a government.  In addition to Idea Village’s efforts, health care and education are benefitting from private enterprise efforts, rather than government handouts:

Today about 80% of the city’s public schools, formerly among the nation’s worst, are charter schools competing on performance to attract students.  The city’s antiquated Charity Hospital will soon be replaced by a state-of-the-art medical center, part of a larger, 2.4-square-mile medical corridor anchored by a new cancer research facility and BioInnovation Center.

With tax incentives (read tax cuts), New Orleans is about to replace New York City as the second largest venue for making feature films (Los Angeles remains No. 1).

Look again at Idea Village.  In its 10 years, it’s returned on those $2.7 million 30 times that amount in annual revenue.  And those jobs have cost $2,700 per each.

How does that private stimulus money raising and spending compare with government stimulus money taxing and spending?

President Obama and Vice President Biden are constantly claiming that Obama’s Stimulus spending has “created or preserved” millions of jobs in just three years.  They have steadfastly refused, though, to provide any evidence that that’s true, or that jobs created or preserved are the result of that trillion-dollar spending spree in 2009 and not the result of a struggling, otherwise ordinary, business recovery cycle—beyond anecdotal claims from state agencies beholden to the Obama administration for that money and for other billions they each hope to get in the future.

Let’s accept arguendo that the Obama claims are reasonably accurate, though.  $1 trillion dollars from the Stimulus Bill of three years ago has created or saved 3.2 million (the most frequently tossed about number) jobs in these last three years.  That works out to $312,500 per job created or saved.  Sorting out only the created jobs (were that possible) would drive that cost per job even higher.

And the return on those trillion dollars isn’t at all positive.  Meanwhile, the unemployment average remains, three years after Obama’s promise, above 8%.


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