Oxymoron of the Day: President-Elect Obama’s Plan to Use Public Works Projects to “Jump Start” a Recovery

Monday, December 8, 2008

Public works projects – highways, bridges, whatever – take time, often years, and are no way to jump start anything. (The next time you have a heart attack, do you want paddles, or someone to makeover your wardrobe?) Equally important, the workforce skill set public works projects require usually has little or nothing to do with the great majority of people who are unemployed during a downturn of this magnitude. And the geography often doesn’t match.

Any historic evidence that public works projects have ever, ever caused a rapid economic recovery is nothing more than the illusion of coincidence.

We have an urgent need to generate work requiring the skills of the people who are unemployed, as close to where they used to work as possible.

The repairing and the greening of America are good things, but luxuries, the costs of which should be postponed until later, until they can be covered by the surplus government revenues of an economy that is fully recovered.

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