The late Lt. Governor Wilder, a Southern rural Democrat, is probably rolling over in his grave on account of President Obama’s plan to create jobs through government spending. If he could say something to the President, here’s what I think he’d say.
By way of background, the other day the President gave a speech in which he called on people to contact their Congressional leaders to urge them to demand more spending on infrastructure. Laying aside the fact that we’ve heard this “shovel ready” speech before, I think Senator Wilder would tell him the shovel we need for this kind of proposal is the kind he used in his barn.
Senator Wilder, known for his quirky sayings, would probably say to the President what I heard him say hundreds of times, “Mr. President, all wealth is production.” And the Senator would be right. That’s what the President doesn’t seem to get.
Government spending is not the creation of wealth, and that’s what we really need. The President’s plan is not the creation of wealth, but a reshuffling of existing wealth. Here’s how Governor Wilder might connect the dots for the President:
Mr. President, let me get this straight: you take my money from me and my farmhands who are shoveling out my barn, take some of it out for the cost of governmental bureaucratic processing (IRS), and then give what’s left to other people who are holding shovels so they can build a road. Now, I’m all for good roads, and government needs to help build roads. But there is no creation of wealth here. All you’ve done, Mr. President, is give my wealth to another person. The government hasn’t “produced” anything. So you’ve not created any wealth for anybody.
And, Mr. President, before you say something really embarrassing like, “But those construction workers we’ve put to work will spend their paychecks on stuff, and buying stuff helps the economy,” let me remind you that my farmhands and I would have spent the money—put it to good use, too. You think we just pile our money up in the barn and don’t do anything with it? Mr. President, that’s what we do with hay, not our money.
And, Mr. President, I wouldn’t want you to get caught saying something else silly like, “But we’ve put people to work,” because I’m probably going have to lay off some of my farmhands. So, again, Mr. President, the government hasn’t produced anything. No wealth has been created.
So, Mr. President, would you focus on keeping us safe from terrorist. And build roads if you want to. Just don’t treat us like some country bumpkin and think we’re not smart enough that to know your road programs aren’t producing wealth. There’s enough stuff gets in my barn that needs shoveling out without you adding to it.