So Why Aren’t There “Shovel-Ready” Jobs?

To read the comments here, it sounds like we’ve reached second-world levels of bureaucracy. It’s like the whole system is just grinding to a halt. And of course, California has become worse than most places, with little prospect for change, given that the electorate continues to go downhill as the productive leave.

[Update a few minutes later]

The Texas model:

What does Austin know that Washington doesn’t? At its simplest: Don’t overtax and -spend, keep regulations to a minimum, avoid letting unions and trial lawyers run riot, and display an enormous neon sign saying, “Open for Business.”

It’s amazing what can happen when you have political leaders who understand, and don’t hate business.

19 thoughts on “So Why Aren’t There “Shovel-Ready” Jobs?”

  1. There is something that Texas is doing right. Every time I pass through the place, what strikes me is how generally prosperous the place is, from the lawyers and airline pilots down to the fry cooks and janitors. People look purposeful, moderately happy, like they have a job and a home and a decent future for their kids, high and low. There is neither the gray despair you see on the poorer folks in California, nor the tight anxiety that dwells in the middle class, nor yet the exasperation and hostility in the upper class you see in LA and Boston.

    I’m sure there must be plenty of exceptions, of course. Still, flying back from Texas to California suggests to me what European visitors might have felt sailing back from the young United States to Great Britian in about 1815. A sense that, even given the relative wealth and sophistication of the latter, you were traveling from the future back to the past.

  2. Government is the last refuge for the “Angry Studies” majors, the gross surplus of lawyers, and others too lacking in actual skills to earn a living in the private sector. Their sole function is to gum up the works to justify their existance. Lawyers will be the death of America assisted by bureaucrats.

  3. The US empire does seem to be in its twilight days, slowly dieing under the mass of its ever growing bureaucracy, however I am hoping that it has another couple of tech booms left, another generation or two of world technical dominance in a couple of crucial fields. The US still seems by far the most likely place to kick off the space frontier, once that happens (I hope there is time) perhaps the US can graciously retire and become the new Old Europe.

  4. I don’t see much of a need to come up with ten reasons when a few explanations cover the bases. Namely, bureaucracy and regulation stood in the way of the “shovel-ready” projects. Government didn’t bother to waive any of these obstacles when it passed the ARRA or over the subsequent 21 or so months. Finally, even in the absence of waivers, Obama could have acted to clear up bureaucratic conflicts that stood in the way of some of these projects.

    I wonder how the pseudo-Keynesians will explain why the Stimulus was necessary, but spending the money of the Stimulus in a timely manner was not necessary?

  5. Well, what they really are is Stalinists, KH. The neo-Keynesianism is just a fig leaf. And for Stalinists, the expansion of the “necessary” interventions of the Best And Brightest, working for The People in government, is the end goal. They don’t care much about actually spending the money because the key goal, for them, was their acquring the power to spend it.

  6. Texas will never win against DC without a succession. DC will squeeze Texas like a lemon by using money press, direct taxes even. Heck Obama ordered whole industries to shut down with a mere executive order. So all this moderate happiness is only for a few years.

  7. Oh I dunno, Auteur. Texas stands to gain 4 seats in Congress this apportionment, more than any other state. Red states (and presumed Texas allies) Georgia, South Carolina, and Utah also gain 1 each, with purplish “French allies” Florida and Nevada also picking up 1 each. Meanwhile true-blue states Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York all lose 1 each, along with some Midwestern states that can’t make up their minds.

    People have been voting with their feet, and by and by that may accomplish all that’s needed.

  8. Note that Texas also has strict limits on what the state government can do, when it can meet, etc. We also have sunset laws for every single state agency–if it’s not specifically exempted by the state Constitution, it has to get re-approved in no more than 12 years.

    Also, note that the Republic of Texas used to prohibit a sitting President from running for re-election. Some days, I wish that had been forced upon both the US Congress and President. With a couple of modifications to prevent tricks like title-swapping, it might have been a simpler and more effective measure than even term limits.

  9. “What does Austin know that Washington doesn’t?”

    This is misleading. It should read “…the the state government in Austin…” The city of Austin is as bad any city in a blue state. It’s the Berkeley of the Southwest.

  10. Why do capitals run blue when the rest of the state is red (those colors do seem backward don’t they?) It’s the same here in Phoenix with the Mayor of Phoenix, Goddard, running for governor.

  11. What makes putting a shovel into the ground so hard is that first you have to justify the project under the National Highway Administration’s “Six Livability Principals.” A little long, but after reading them I understood.

    The Livability Principles are:

    a. Provide More Transportation Choices. Develop safe, reliable and affordable transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce energy consumption and dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote public health.
    b. Promote equitable, affordable housing. Expand location- and energy-efficient housing
    choices for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.
    c. Enhance Economic Competitiveness. Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers, as well as expanded business access to markets.
    d. Support Existing Communities. Target Federal funding toward existing communities—
    through strategies like transit oriented, mixed-use development, and land recycling—to increase community revitalization and the efficiency of public works investments and safeguard rural landscapes.
    e. Coordinate Policies and Leverage Investment. Align Federal policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding, and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.
    f. Value Communities and Neighborhoods. Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe, and walkable neighborhoods—rural, urban, or suburban.

  12. The greatest and most positive change in political morality ws the exultation of the bourgoise, the shop-keeper, over the warrior and the priest. Where this advance is repudiated, there will be poverty and oppression.

  13. Why do capitals run blue when the rest of the state is red (those colors do seem backward don’t they?)

    State capitals are full of bureaucrats as the center of government. These are people who tend to believe in expanding government. They’re even more likely to be liberal if the capital is the largest city in the state (e.g. Denver) and/or if it’s the home of a major university.

    As for the whole red = conservative and blue = liberal color coding, it’s exactly backward and reportedly by design. The first election that I recall where they talked about red and blue states was in 2000. The group that came up with those colors deliberately decided not to use red for liberal because that was too close to the truth.

  14. Why do capitals run blue when the rest of the state is red (those colors do seem backward don’t they?) It’s the same here in Phoenix with the Mayor of Phoenix, Goddard, running for governor.

    My opinion is that the Demcrat/Republican divide follows the urban/rural divide.

  15. Or maybe they follow the rent seeker/normal human being divide.

    Which seems to correlate well with the urban/rural divide.

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