If I told you that, by my being laid off I saved two people their jobs, we might be able to measure that. We could
- Compare my salary with the salary of two people in my company and see how the compare, or
- Interview the management of my former company and ask what they would had to have done if they kept me on their employment roles.
But how in the world would you go about trying to verify that any one person’s actions saved or created 150,000 jobs? How about saving or creating 600,000 jobs this summer?
These are the claims that the President of the United States is throwing around. These are numbers that no one is counting, no one is verifying, and that are being preached as gospel—as a way to validate the policies of Pres. Barak Obama.
And the media is not doing it’s job of exposing this latest emperor as having no clothes.
Now, something’s wrong when the president invokes a formula that makes it impossible for him to be wrong and it goes largely unchallenged. It’s true that almost any government spending will create some jobs and save others. But as Milton Friedman once pointed out, that doesn’t tell you much: The government, after all, can create jobs by hiring people to dig holes and fill them in.
If the “saved or created” formula looks brilliant, it’s only because Mr. Obama and his team are not being called on their claims. And don’t expect much to change. So long as the news continues to repeat the administration’s line that the stimulus has already “saved or created” 150,000 jobs over a time period when the U.S. economy suffered an overall job loss 10 times that number, the White House would be insane to give up a formula that allows them to spin job losses into jobs saved.
What needs to happen is that media needs to stop being the President’s PR firm and start reporting what’s really going on. I mean, President Bush would not have gotten away with those kinds of numbers—because the press was predisposed to question everything he said.
They should still be serving the same function.