Monday, August 8, 2011

What About This Can't We Afford?

I'm hearing a great deal of disparagement of 'government created jobs'. In one conversation, there was a narrowly defined description of stimulus related jobs as 'digging a hole and refilling it'. Aside from the ludicrous hyperbole, even if that actually were a real job, people with such antipathy don't ask what a person would do with the paycheck from such a job. Here's a quick list:

  • If they have an apartment they would pay rent
  • If they own a home they would pay a mortgage
  • If they have a loan on a car they would pay a car note, they would also buy gas, have maintenance and repair on that car
  • They would buy clothes
  • They would buy groceries
  • If they have children they would buy toys
  • They would pay utility bills
  • If they have a cell phone (who doesn't), they would pay that phone bill
  • If they have television, they would pay some sort of subscription for that service
  • On a rare occasion they would go out to eat, or, bare minimum buy some take out or fast food
  • In short, they would spend the money. Which would circulate throughout the economy. 

The money from a government job, no more goes into a 'black hole' than does money from a private sector job.

But, this argument against 'government created jobs' actually started me thinking: what are 'government created jobs'? Are they jobs with no purpose? Manufactured employment for which there are no private sector counterparts? Are the people who take 'government created jobs' lazy ne'er do wells who couldn't find work otherwise?

Here's a list of government jobs I came up with. And I did so realizing that some of them are actually jobs being cut by state and city governments in order to balance their budgets. Of course in cutting these jobs, you are also cutting the considerable buying and investment power of these men and women, thus making the country's fiscal outlook that much more precarious:


  • Firefighters and paramedics
  • teachers
  • social workers
  • Healthcare workers 
  • Administrators
  • clerical workers
  • landscaping crews
  • custodians
  • public safety officials 
  • engineers
  • architects
  • parks and recreation 
  • code enforcement
  • inspectors
  • vehicle maintenance
  • electricians
  • information technology specialists
  • facilities maintenance


Clearly all of these were supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But police, firefighters, teachers were. And if there was political will, engineers, architects, electricians and inspectors could be. And each one would be a consumer of goods and services, at more than minimum wage and at more than an unemployment check and SNAP benefits.

Think of it: not a ditch digger or ditch filler on the list...

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