Creative Accounting

Here’s another article finding significant errors in the counting of “jobs created or saved” by the stimulus bill.  In this case, one agency reported saving almost twice as many jobs as actually existed.  Even more galling, another government spokesman tried to defend the practice of counting the raises given to government employees as somehow equivalent to “saved” jobs.  The article quotes an HHS spokesman as saying that “If I give you a raise, it is going to save a portion of your job.”

The definition of what constitutes a job “created or saved” is inherently slippery.  What is really appalling is that even the slippery definitions have been pressed beyond the breaking point, so that non-existent jobs get counted and raises for government employees are defended as “saved” jobs.  In view of the kind of information reported in the linked article, does anyone actually think the federal government’s statistical evidence for the “success” of the stimulus spending bill has any credibility whatsoever?

It’s bad enough that the figures have been jiggered to make it look like the stimulus spending has had any material positive impact.  What is really infuriating, however, is that a government employee thinks that American taxpayers are so gullible and dim-witted that they will swallow the explanation that a raise given to government workers is equivalent to a job “saved.”   How gratifying to think that our tax dollars are helping to pay the salary of someone who clearly has only contempt for our intellect.

Baseball Is Boring

Wow, the Yankees won the World Series! What a shock! The Yankees and other big-market teams have more money than other teams, pick up the big-dollar free agents and assemble de facto All Star teams, and win championships. Ho hum.

Seriously, does anyone find major league baseball interesting anymore? What possible pleasure is there in watching just to see if the Yankees won’t win every year?

It Takes Crust

Whenever someone would do or say something that was outlandish and grossly overreaching, my grandmother would say: “That takes crust.” I think she would have used that phrase to characterize the latest scheme developed by California lawmakers to try to close a huge budget shortfall. They have announced that they will increase, by 10 percent, the state income tax withholding from the paychecks of California workers. They won’t increase the underlying taxes, mind you — they know that to do so would be political suicide — so they will just keep more of the taxpayers’ money and then repay it later, without paying any interest, when refunds are distributed out next year. In effect, California lawmakers are taking an enormous, interest free loan from California workers during these very difficult economic times, when workers can least afford it.

The California Statehouse, where no man's property apparently is safe from confiscation

It is hard to imagine a more gutless gimmick to try to close a budget deficit while minimizing political risk. Rather than make the hard choices about cutting spending or raising taxes, California lawmakers have found a craven and weaselly solution that allows them to increase revenue while still being able to claim that they haven’t raised taxes. I certainly hope that California voters stand up for themselves at the next opportunity and throw out the legislators who concocted and supported such a duplicitous scheme. The lengths to which the California legislature will go to raid the pockets of taxpayers should cause any rational taxpayer to think of fleeing the state for a destination where the government has some modicum of respect for private property and the rule of law.