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Doorbells and the Economic Stimulus: What Obama Hasn't Told You

By February 11, 2009

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President Barack Obama glares at a reporter during his first prime time press conference in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 9, 2009. Obama called on Congress to

The more I see of President Barack Obama's stimulus package, the more I'm seeing jobs that boil down to paying people to dig holes and paying other people to fill those very same holes back in.

Economics Guide Mike Moffatt talks about how any fiscal stimulus is unlikely to work beyond a mathematical model because the three ingredients needed to improve the economy are difficult to realize all at one time in the real world: not crowding out, being quick and being cost-effective.

US Government Info Guide Robert Longley sent me a great link, StimulusWatch.org., a site that tracks the projects included in the Democrat's stimulus package.

One of the first ones listed under the "most popular" tab is "doorbells." This project is listed as a "housing project" that sends $99,600 to the City of Laurel, Mississippi's "Public Housing Modernization Funds." The money would create jobs to upgrade elderly resident housing by installing doorbells.

“The elderly units would be enhanced with an exterior and interior doorbell," Laurel's Housing Authority Executive Director Kay Guy said, according to the local Laurel Leader newspaper. "The interior doorbell would be used in case of emergencies.”

It says on the site that this money will create two jobs, and it says on the newspaper's site that it'll create four jobs. Either way, it's a job creator ... right? Well, what happens when all these doorbells are all installed? I imagine that it wouldn't take too much time to install these devices, regardless of whether the work is spread out among four people or two.

Getting back to Moffatt's blog, the question has to be asked: "If fiscal stimulus doesn't work in the real world and job stimulus like this is short-lived -- what's that say about the 2009 Economic Stimulus bill?"

The answer to that question might be found in a couple of questionable health provisions FOX News discovered in the package yesterday, and which CNN's Lou Dobbs followed up on last evening.

Bloomberg's Betsy McCaughey breaks it down quite nicely:

One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions.
What's particularly troubling about this provision is that it was slipped into the legislation without any public input or announcements. It just suddenly appeared. See for yourself.

And now we've arrived at the answer. The stimulus bill isn't so much about creating jobs, and it's less about creating fiscal stimulus. What the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is really about is implementing the Democratic agenda, and moving the country toward a liberal ideal.

As the House and Senate enter negotiations today, Republicans should be mindful of this and do whatever they can to stop it.

See all the blogs on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at US Conservative Politics & Perspectives.

Thanks to Kathy Gill at US Politics for bringing Moffatt's article to my attention.

Photo © Jim Watson/Getty Images

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February 14, 2009 at 3:34 am
(1) Nevi says:

To be quite frank, this is not a situation confined to a ‘ tiny locale’, its across the GLOBE. So, the stimulus packages, in their current form in USA, will not work.
Its now 14 Feb 2008…the dice continues to be rolled, at the expense of ordinary hard working people, jeopardising people in the ‘now’, let alone talk of generational debt.

Just how intelligent are most economists? It would seem, ‘not very’ . Only the world’s dumbest economists would think that ‘the banking sector needs a fix, then everything else will fall into place’. ”Get real” economists : you have a consumer base thats being eroded on a daily basis. Every single person that gets ‘unemployed’ is one less consumer.
So far, some big banks and big corporations are floating on FALSE balance sheets by including any liquidity injections in any form derived from ‘bailouts’…so, even as you scan the economic horizon of the markets, you are fooling yourselves by reading into a falsification, and still pricing ‘that’ in , along with your so called ‘toxic debt’ , that nobody can really put a value on. Its a laugh.

Are not the unemployed of today the investors of yesterday? Are these not ex contributors to society? Don’t they make up ‘consumer spending’ ?
At what point do you cash in on that insurance policy or savings investment if you suddenly can’t meet repayments? How long do ‘savings’ really last for the average unemployed person?

Which El Dweebo exactly thought up the ‘bad bank’ idea?? It must be quite a big idea, because the ‘MiniDweebs’ are doing all the spadework to push the word out.
Since the ‘toxic assets’ as most so politely term them, spread across continents and markets , how do you expect to ‘quarantine’them? You ask banks about their investments in the Caymen Islands etc..all that happens is bankers get a bit fidgety, and shrug that off. Transparency ? It has to be hilarious.

Look again carefully, and if your sense of calculating reason is still functioning , you will understand that as any consumer base erodes, so do the markets. No ‘credit flow’ can stop that. Sure, some small businesses etc may qualify for credit lines, but really, would you give a person that is ‘jobless’ , any form of ‘credit’??

Problems and attempted solutions may trickle down from governments , but debt works from the ground up..and its mounting really faster than most can perceive.
I’m not exactly the first person to see the stimulus fail. The mere fact that all those bankers are free men, ensures that the stimulus will fail. I saw someone read a message that someone suggested they all be jailed. Quite the stunning piece of advice to the President :) ..anyone home? Perhaps there’s no real need to close Gitmo..maybe just the inmates need to be redefined. Tea and cake can be served, and thats quite humane. In essence, that’d just save the President a whole lot of work.

So, they are called in before a senate to give a ‘testimony’ ?? Its interesting and ironic to know the meaning of that word in the present context.
What’s the outcome of such a hearing? Is there any real merit in it at all, except to fool taxpayers and constituents that ‘something is being done’ ?

Definition: a solemn statement made under oath.
Its among one of many definitions, but you might get the drift. In today’s society and legality, the general core of the base meanings of words, can dissolve in technicality and context.

How can the stimulus work, if billions evaporate before it even hits the ground?

So, let’s look at things again, in the smallest retrospect of just ’3 weeks’

You have ‘stimulus’ funds passing through the hands of those in part , AND overwhelmingly ‘responsible’ for the economic equivalent of AIDS ( High Investment Vaporization ?? Highly Inventive Volatility?? ) being immunised by ‘bailouts’ – but refuse to indicate how, and where ” investments” are wheeled and dealed…and a
” government website” where taxpayers can go, and see how ‘every cent’ is used’ ?? As with the dreaded disease, its carriers outlive the victims , to inflict maximum damage because even if they know they’re severely ILL, their mentality convinces them that there is no problem.

I heard it said that ‘Transparency’ , means different things to different people , so perhaps the above is one such thing. It smacks of such high accountability but it’s apparently not really too much of a concern in passing an ‘astronomically flawed’ bill. All such concerns obviously mean nothing n the realm of ‘too big to fail’ ..its a virtual melting pot of ‘anything goes’ , even if its taxpayer dollars..give or take a few BILLION here or there..whats the trainsmash?? Its just some dollars that even a generation of taxpayers won’t really recover from.

Its pleasing to note that some economists and strategists see the danger of China holding $ trillions of US goodies in ‘reserves’ , with a rapidly shrinking export base. It makes for quite an explosive clash on issues of ‘ Trade Protectionism’ in the near future.

How do you really slide down the blade of a double-edged sword, in a catch 22 situation without being severely slit?

The stimulus bill, seems to be more about fulfilling a bit of ‘political promise’ rather than holding ANY real regenerative capability. Sure, the tax cuts for 95% may turn a few mesmerised heads for now. The huge talk of all the millions of jobs that will be generated may sound highly appealing today.
Did I hear someone say the ‘toxic assets’ aren’t necessarily ‘toxic’ ?? So, sipping a bit of poison isn’t really dangerous..it could just materialise into an elixir for life on the way down right?? Sorry, perhaps I imagined that out of context. I’m just in the ranks of ordinary people, and not an ‘expert’ , so perhaps my degree of commonsense is actually ludicrous at an ‘economics’ level.

There may be merit in ‘stimulus’actually working, if the ground rules are intrinsically ‘correct’.

When the objectivity of good reasoning, is left behind in the wake of slick vocabulary that mesmerises a nation, the perceived light at the end of the tunnel is usually the oncoming train.


March 17, 2009 at 3:51 pm
(2) Joe says:

I read the provision in the Stimulus Bill relating to the position of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and nothing in that section suggests that this coordinator would in any way be involved in healthcare decisions. Can you please point me to the provision that states this person will “monitor treatments” as Ms. McCaughey suggests?

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