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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Shovel-Ready Theft

I noticed a new evil fnord circulating. It's the term "shovel-ready project".

A shovel-ready project is a project where money can be immediately spent. With negligible preparation time, a project can immediately begin work. For example, "We have plans to build a new road/bridge!" is a shovel-ready project. "I need someone to help me plant my garden." is not a shovel-ready project, unless you spent a couple million dollars in lobbyists.

Almost anyone, if you ask them, can think of something they would like to buy or work they would like performed. There are plenty of people who would like their house painted, roof repaired, a new car, etc.

The "shovel-ready projects" are all proposed by politically connected insiders. When Obama says "I must spend $1T in a hurry!", all sorts of people show up with a proposal and, more importantly, lobbyists.

The State creates no real new wealth when it prints and spends new money. You'll see a "shovel-ready" bridge being built. You won't see the TV or car that someone couldn't afford, because their paycheck/savings were stolen by inflation. It's the usual "seen vs. unseen" fallacy. You see the State hiring people. You don't see the work that would otherwise be performed.

I certainly could spend $100M hiring people to write software for me. I might even earn above-market returns for the $100M invested. (I'd settle for $1M!) However, I don't have an army of lobbyists who can go to the State to get my share of tribute.

This is one main evil of the State. It becomes more profitable to lobby the State for favors, than it is to do actual useful work. Therefore, the average intelligent person aspires to be a member of the parasite class, rather than someone who does actual useful work. Over time, this leads to confusion between "People who earn money by producing something useful!" and "People who earn money via State violence (directly or indirectly)!"

A pro-State troll could say "FSK is evil for putting AdSense on his blog and earning some money!" That is false, because I don't have the ability to steal via State violence. If people read my blog and the AdSense ads, that's only because I'm writing something interesting. It is wrong to suggest that any for-profit business is morally equivalent to those who profit via State violence.

Lobbying the State for favors is very profitable. If you get the State to give you $1B in loot, you can then spend $10M on lobbyists to ensure your continued share of the booty.

It's amusing to notice the term "shovel-ready project" being promoted as a new evil fnord. I wonder how the mainstream media comes up with new words and aggressively promotes them? New words must be continuously invented, once people associate older words with evil.

1 comment:

robert30062 said...

How do they come up with the words? Reference my "Think Tanks and Fnords" article.

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