11 July 2012: Government job creation spurs the economy

Government job creation spurs the economy

One of the tenets of orthodox Republicanism is government doesn’t create jobs.  The notion takes form of a mantra, the utterance of which is curious to those working jobs created by government: police officers, public school teachers, and fire fighters among them.  Military personnel have been referred to as GI’s—Government Issue—since World War II, so it’s probably safe to assume they’re government employees.

The notion of government unable to create jobs is absurd, of course, but then a Republican will do a Mitt Romney-like finessing of the issue and tut-tut that government doesn’t create private-sector jobs, which is true in that in a public/private system, government is by definition in the public realm.

So no, we the people don’t own General Motors, but GM exists today because President Obama and congressional Democrats took steps to insure the world’s number one auto maker remained in existence and to save thousands of American jobs from being off-shored to China, which Republicans would’ve preferred in the name of ideological purity.

Republicans are fond of running against government.  It’s gospel.  Then when empowered, they do what they can to eviscerate and sabotage it and say, “See, we told you it doesn’t work.”

Transportation Enhancement, the primary source of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects, is a case in point.

The Streetsblog Network, a news source focusing on sustainable transportation and livable communities, reports “freshman Republicans have made a point of expressing their dissatisfaction [with] any funding” relating to programs that promote bicycle and pedestrian projects, which has real implications for Clear Creek’s recreational economy.

Peopleforbikes.org states, “Federal money is far and away the number one source of funding for bikeways, bike lanes, trails, underpasses, bridges and programs like Safe Routes to School.”

The 2004 Clear Creek County Greenway Plan identified opportunities for the development of a greenway along Clear Creek by linking new and existing recreational and historical attractions and infrastructure important to a tourism-based economy.  Three projects:

  • Of the $400,000 that went into developing a whitewater rafting park in Lawson, 80 percent came from a Colorado Department of Transportation grant.
  • Over $500,000 were provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, the so-called “stimulus bill”) to pave the Bakerville to Loveland trail.
  • $400,000 from a CDOT enhancement helped fund the Clear Creek Greenway between Jefferson County and Idaho Springs.

According to Commissioner Tim Mauck, these projects are providing access to Clear Creek for biking, rafting, fishing, historical interpretation and other recreational opportunities.

“Through increased recreational visits, other businesses such as shops, restaurants and lodging benefit from increased visitation,” says Mauck.

“The projects,” he continues,” also contribute to leveraging additional money from other organizations to further complete the Greenway and its recreational attractions.”

In addition to Transportation Enhancement, federal and state governments have provided funds for other public works including:

  • $2,000,000 for the Georgetown roundabout from the state FASTER fund
  • $9,100,000 from the ARRA, as noted in last week’s Courant, to fund Georgetown’s water and wastewater plants
  • The Guanella Scenic By-Way
  • The Georgetown Visitor center

Did I mention that every one of those projects provided jobs to Americans?  That’s the bane of venture capital/private equity firms such as Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital: Public-works projects cannot be out-sourced.

The economy of our complex modern society is in large part based upon a public-private partnership.  It’s what pulled us eventually from the Great Depression and has helped save us thus far from GD II.

Government did not build the ships, planes, tanks, and Jeeps that defeated the Nazis.  Government does not mix asphalt for roads nor produces steel girders for bridges.

Government, however, can create opportunities for them to happen.  Only in mythological Ayn Rand la-la land would government not play a role in constructing roads, maintaining a public fire department, or building pedestrian and bike pathways.  In fact, it would go away having been shrunk up and drowned in a bathtub.

The American economy is mixed.  To be sure, the emphasis is on the private, but as it has been since the founding of the Republic, we recognize the need for government to play an integral role in areas the private sector is either unable or chooses not to move, what in the Old English tradition was called “the commonweal.”

Government creates jobs.  It also provides funding for private firms to hire workers who in turn spend the money that in turn creates more jobs, and with that the spin-offs, outgrowths and increased traffic in the small locally businesses are immeasurable.

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