Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why Government Stimulus Doesn't Work

Everybody is talking about the government stimulus plan. When asked about it, I normally respond "I hope it doesn't do too much damage." While the vast majority of people oppose the stimulus, they do so because they see the costs outweighing the benefits. On the other hand, I see no benefits and only costs.

In a private business transactions, both the buyer and seller benefit. If I go to the store and purchase a product, I the customer receive something I value more greatly than the money I spend, otherwise I would not enter the transaction. Even though I end up with no money, which really represents units of labor I have already performed, I actually profit from the transaction since, to me, the value of what I receive exceeds the value of what I give away. And the seller also books a profit, obviously, since that is a business's purpose for existing and his revenue exceeds his expenses. With both the buyer and seller profiting from the transaction, wealth increases.

On the other hand, government transactions have no profit motive for either the buyer or the seller. The government stimulus plan is really a government spending plan with a very small amount of tax cuts. When the government spends money, neither the government nor the taxpayers profits. The government generally spends taxpayer money on projects that would not otherwise get done. But why wouldn't these projects get done without the government? Because they are not profitable, of course! If the government does a project at a profit (where benefits outweigh costs), maybe a road or a stadium, that means that a project that would have been done privately has been usurped by the government, where the government will most likely execute the project much less profitably than private business. And to do these projects, the government amasses huge deficits each year, which a private business would call a loss. Without any motive for profits, which modern liberals claim to be a good thing, taxpayers lose money with each dollar they send to the government and the government makes losses on top of that instead of profits. With losses accrued by both the buyer (taxpayer) and seller (government), wealth is being destroyed.

As Winston Churchill said, "It is a socialist idea that making profits is a vice; I consider the real vice is making losses." As this "stimulus" package takes hard earned money from taxpayers and government bureaucrats waste the money away on unprofitable projects, remember that any plan which destroys wealth, as this plan does, is full of costs and has no benefits.