By Robert T. Smith
It has been thoroughly reported that the unemployment rate is at a record high. The President and his cadre of high thinking progressives have a remedy for the country's economy. The stimulating catch phrases include "shovel ready projects" and "green jobs." When chanted over and over, these incantations are expected to provide hope for the country's economy and a change to the dreary employment picture that we are burdened with today. But what really lies under the surface of these snappy catch phrases?
Who will be employed by a shovel ready project; who will perform this work? For general comparison purposes, let's consider a recent Employment Situation Summary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics for October 2009. There we find that the construction portion of all non-farm employment in our country comprises approximately 5% of the non-farm work force. Of all the labor categories, construction employs the least number of our fellow citizens. It then seems strange that so much of the stimulus had an emphasis on these "shovel ready projects."
Perhaps these elite statesmen are confused by the turmoil in our economy? Perhaps their progressive minds haven't quite caught up to the work force composition of our century? Their ideas appear, dare we notice, regressively backward-looking to command and control dictates as to the means of employment and economic progress, and manual labor composition of the work force of the early to mid-industrial 1900s.
Alternatively, could the rationale for their progressive reasoning be all together different? As we witness on a regular basis, the first step for dispensing the national treasure stimuli appears to require a large portion of pork served to a favored constituency, like a labor union. The local federal politician or sometimes Governor stands in for the inevitable photo-op, complete with the biggie-sized check and autobiographical accolades for bringing money, employment and redevelopment back to the area. We must look past the reality that dispensing the largesse from many others into a single focused area requires no heavy lifting on the progressive politicians' part, simply the political power to do so and an apparent freakishly large check book.
What have these shovel ready projects really stimulated? As cited previously, few of our unemployed fellow citizens are actually engaged in this construction-type work. Are we to assume that our unemployed, computer geek neighbor is willing and expected to don his Carhartt® work wear, pitch in and begin tying steel for the newest local bridge to nowhere? For my part, I will take the road around that bridge at the completion of that project.
The concept of green jobs also needs considered. Setting aside the proposition that so few political energy "experts" should dictate the means of energy production for so many, regardless of the facts, let's consider employment strictly. Again, for broad, general comparison purposes, generously totaling up the full numbers for the manufacturing and construction work force for this comparison (for our general comparison purposes, let's assume we both manufacture and install green energy units here in the U.S., be they windmills or solar panels as examples), we stand at a whopping 14% of the non-farm employment of our country. This figure is again arguably on the lower side of statistical employment significance. We must also ignore the fact that many of these green energy units are, and likely will continue to be manufactured overseas and imported.
Shovel ready and green jobs are the two apparent main legs of the stool for stimulating our economy in the federal overseer's minds. The last leg for the economy appears as the government hired help to administer, observe and account for these work activities. Government employment has become a strangely growing portion of the work force.
In summary, shovel ready projects and green jobs, a bluer collar work force, lifelong indentured service to government and/or union influenced jobs, command and control stimulation of the means and manner of production. This is not hopeful for the future of America or the change we need, the bait dangled by the Chicago grifter before the switch. Put in perspective, Messrs. Marx and Mussolini, and even our own Woodrow Wilson and FDR would be well pleased with the purveyors of our current regressive employment schemes.
Robert T. Smith is an environmental scientist who spends his days enjoying life and the pursuit of happiness with his family. He confesses to cling to his liberty, guns and religion, with antipathy toward the arrogant ruling elites throughout the country.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!