Saturday Economics Lesson #2 – The Parable of the Leaf Blower

How do redistributionists like President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent liberals understand the process of creating jobs?  Zombie offers an interesting parable:

[A]n intriguing paradox I observed first-hand just a few months ago when I visited a relative who lived in a suburban tract:

Twice a week, my relative hired a “gardener” to clean up the front yard. I put “gardener” in quotes because this young hardworking immigrant didn’t actually know anything about plants or gardens; basically his only task was to get rid of the leaves that fell from the trees in front of the house. He achieved this very quickly and efficiently by using a gas-powered leaf-blower. Perhaps when he was first hired his technique was to blow all the leaves into a big pile which he would then load into his truck for removal. A few may have gone into the neighbors’ yards, but hey, they were out of my relative’s yard, so problem solved. I imagine that over time, as he got hired by more and more people in the tract due to his low rates, he worked quicker and quicker and sloppier and sloppier, until the day I observed him, when he no longer even made a pretense of gathering the leaves into a pile; instead, he just blew them all into the neighbors’ yards, and then hopped into his truck and drove off to his next client. At three or four yards per hour, he was (metaphorically at least) raking it in.

But here’s where the paradox begins. The neighbors would come back from their jobs at the end of the day, and see all the leaves on their lawns, and they’d call up their own gardeners who would proceed to do the exact same thing in reverse — blow all the same leaves back into my relative’s and adjacent neighbors’ yards. This cycle would go on across the entire tract, because the same leaf-shedding trees had been planted along every street: everyone would hire gardeners to blow the leaves back and forth from yard to yard. At the end of each week, exactly nothing had been achieved: all the leaves were back where they started. And then the cycle would begin again.

A normal person would look at this situation and say, “What a monumental waste of effort. So much human labor for no purpose whatsoever; after all those man-hours, nothing has changed. All the leaves are back in their original positions.”

Obama would look at this same situation and say, “How can you claim that nothing was achieved? Forty-seven gardeners are now fully employed!

But I look at it and see what the radical theorists see: It’s not true at all that nothing has changed. Maybe the leaves are all in their original positions, but a great deal of money has been transferred from the middle-class homeowners to the immigrant gardeners. (emphasis in original)

Make sure you also read the excellent link posted by Rodney Graves, that explains our tax system using a story about 10 men walking into a bar to have a beer.

It’s the crippled thinking illustrated in these stories that causes people like Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama to believe that the expansion of unemployment insurance and government regulations actually leads to more jobs being created.  It’s scary that these people are the ones now making decisions about our economy.

Obama DOE urged Solyndra to postpone layoff announcement until after Nov 2010 election
The Beer Night Parable of Taxation
  • Work which achieves nothing is worth nothing.

    • 914

      Yup!!  Obama!!

  • Not just 47 gardeners but another few thousand working on Solar-powered leaf blowers

  • ackwired

    Another great story that reveals the falacy of make-work jobs.  Do you have any examples of Obama starting make-work jobs?

    • GarandFan

      His recently announced “Summer jobs” program, most of which will be unpaid internships.

      • ackwired


        From: Disqus
        To: [email protected]
        Sent: Sunday, January 15, 2012 6:59 AM
        Subject: [wizbang] Re: Saturday Economics Lesson #2 – The Parable of the Leaf Blower
        Disqus generic email template

        GarandFan wrote, in response to ackwired:
        His recently announced “Summer jobs” program, most of which will be unpaid internships. Link to comment

    • His “shovel ready” stimulous.

      • ackwired


        From: Disqus
        To: [email protected]
        Sent: Sunday, January 15, 2012 9:58 AM
        Subject: [wizbang] Re: Saturday Economics Lesson #2 – The Parable of the Leaf Blower
        Disqus generic email template

        Rodney G. Graves wrote, in response to ackwired:
        His “shovel ready” stimulous.
        Link to comment

  • Commander_Chico


    • Evil Otto

      Don’t be so hard on yourself, Chico.

  • Pretzel__Logic

    I have had a similar discussion about the housing market before. Some say it’s what drives a good economy. I say its the result of one. We all cant just be building each others houses after all. Many many other things need to start the economic engine before we see that again. It wont be store clerks, hotel maids and green energy jobs either.

  • Gmacr1

    Until Federal goverment regulators and politicians are stopped from passing legislation that restricts and instead encourages real job creation the economy is screwed.

    Economic terrorism in the form of faceless bureaubots  layering regulations on top of regulations have now started fining oil producers for not having a *non-existent* fuel additive.

    Don’t think that the economy can be jump started by a tax cut and opening the oil drilling area’s. It is going to take the massive repeal of regulations that dictate how/when/where and with what business can go about producing real products.

    • Jay

      That, and taking away the lobbying incentives inherent in the system.

      • I’ll tell you what Jay, if you ban Unions from using member dues for political activities along with the curb on lobbying incentives, I’ll believe you are serious.

      • Gmacr1

        I’m not against restricting politicians from being banned from lobbying or working for ANY organization that has a tie in back to other politicians for a minimum of 6 years. That includes said person’s spouse and children.

      • herddog505

        For the second time in a couple of days, you’ve hit upon half of the problem, and I urge you to keep this thought firmly in mind.  Ask yourself WHY there are “lobbying incentives inherent in the system.”  Then ask yourself what make eliminate those incentives.  What CAN we do to make it not worth people’s while to try to buy off or otherwise sway politicians’ votes?