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I'm From The Government, And I'm Here To Help You!

A while ago, I commented on an odd little paradox: when the economy slows, there is a greater demand for government services for the needy -- while at the same time, the slowed economy means that government revenue is also decreased.

That thought has been preying on my mind, and I think I've finally resolved it.

Yes, when things get rough, there is a greater need for government services. But in nearly every case, the government assistance is purely temporary and transient. And it almost never has any lasting effect -- if we're lucky.

If we're not, then that short-term benefit ends up costing us far more in the long run.

Let's take the infamous "Cash For Clunkers" program. That was sold to the American people as a "shot in the arm" for the auto industry and a boon for the environment, as older, less efficient, more polluting vehicles were taken out of circulation.

What we got bore almost no resemblance to those promises. Yes, carmakers got a boost in sales -- at the expense of later sales. Shortly after the program ended, auto sales took a nosedive.

We also saw which car companies reaped the benefits of the program -- mostly foreign makers. The only domestic maker to do respectably with it was Ford -- the one of the big three that didn't take government bailout money. It's all too likely that the American consumers took the opportunity to express their displeasure with the bailouts.

The program also devastated two secondary markets -- the used auto parts market and the low-priced used cars market. In other words, the junkyards and the cheap cars -- two staples in providing transportation to the poor.

All of which was cynically predicted by plenty of people -- who were ignored and mocked and denigrated and denounced.

(It's OK. We're used to it. Really.)

It's simply the nature of the beast. The federal government is practically a generator for examples of the law of unintended consequences.

And, for some reason, our current elected officials can never seem to grasp that essential truth.

(Update: I done forgot half this article. Instead of updating it, I'm posting it this afternoon.)


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Comments (6)

People need to learn that t... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [retired]:

People need to learn that the Government is good at/for a few things.

Keeping a Military, fighting wars, researching more effective combat methods.

Interstate Highways

Federal police (FBI, CIA, DEA, US Marshals, etc) for problems outside the country/across state lines.

Writing and enforcing or judging the constitutionality of Laws.

Anything else they get involved with quickly turns to poo. The Government should NOT be in the business of ANYTHING but what they have a constitutional mandate to do. The fluff always ends up wasting money that would be better invested by private citizens/companies.

Local/State Government are better at handling these other problems, according to the will of the people in that area. Some things just should not be handled on a national scale.

There is nothing wrong with Police/Fire and other local services which the left holds up as SOCIAL OMG! They are run at a local level and answer to the people of that community. When you nationalize services like this is when we run into problems, if Police answered not to the people of the community they serve but instead to some government official thousands of miles away you can bet that there would be a disconnect in communication and fraud/waste/abuse of the system because oversight would be minimal.

Conservatives do not oppose social services on a local level so stop using that strawman argument. What they oppose is socialism on a national level. If I could get back the taxes I have paid into social security/medicare/name the program I would gladly say kill the programs or give the money to the states to run them. It is understood on both sides of the aisle that seniors will need help(though it can be argued that many would have saved for retirement if they hadnt had a safety net).

oh and PS I think most cons... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [retired]:

oh and PS I think most conservatives are beginning to agree with the small "d" democrats/liberals. The Republicans/GOP currently in Power are indeed powermongers and perhaps slightly evil. They are "less evil" than many of the so-called Democrats in power at the moment but the problem with "less evil" is that it can fool you into thinking it is a better choice.

It is the difference between a superhighway to Hell or the scenic route. Both are paved with good intentions and in the end we still burn.

Tea Party / Conservative Party / Libertarian Party for the Win

Actually it hurt a 3rd "mar... (Below threshold)
Yogurt:

Actually it hurt a 3rd "market".
Emergency Services (including myself and other I know) were hoping for a windfall of
cars to practice vehicle rescue on, but the recyclers are grinding them virtually immediately...

Margaret Thatcher pointed o... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Margaret Thatcher pointed out that it's easy to be a socialist when you're spending other peoples money. Federal and state lawmakers can create any "program" for the poor that they want. They can fund that program as long as a greater number of people are making money and paying taxes. However, in a down economy, with more looking for help, and fewer working and paying taxes; there comes a point when the tax cupboard is bare. You either have to raise taxes or find another source (China) of cash. China has indicated that it may no longer be interested in loaning money. Will the current socialist administration dare raise taxes? Stay tuned.

From the same goverment who... (Below threshold)
Flu-Bird:

From the same goverment who a few yeards ago decided to replace the old skull and crossbones warning of poison with that rediculous thing they called MR YUCK, makes you wonder if their any brains at all left in WASHINGTON D.C.

You make some good points. ... (Below threshold)

You make some good points. Cash for clunkers didn't just hurt the used auto parts market and the low-priced used cars market. It also hurt car repair shops and car donation.




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