"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Can't Anyone at The WaPo Do Long Division?

Here's the lede paragraphs from a story in the Washington Post today:

A $38.6 billion loan guarantee program that the Obama administration promised would create or save 65,000 jobs has created just a few thousand jobs two years after it began, government records show.

The program — designed to jump-start the nation’s clean technology industry by giving energy companies access to low-cost, government-backed loans — has directly created 3,545 new, permanent jobs after giving out almost half the allocated amount, according to Energy Department tallies.

While I appreciate the attention -- post-Solyndra -- to the epic fail that is Obama's green energy boondoggle, this would be a much more telling analysis if the Post simply did a little long-division.   It's a $38 billion dollar program; they've given out roughly half of that amount in loan guarantees; that makes $19 billion in government funds.   They've created only 3,545 new jobs.   Let's do the math.   Hmmmm, $19,000,000,000 divided by 3,545.... that's $5,359,661 per job!    I think anyone would understand that to be an "epic fail" better if you put it in those terms.  

But consider:   even on its face, the original program, if it had done what Obama said it would do, would have spent $38.6 billion to "create" 65,000 jobs.   Thus, even if successful, the program would have spent $593,846 per job.  

Does that make sense on any level?   Would you start a bakery with start up costs of $3 million to employ you and four friends?   Of course not.

Simple arithmetic makes a lot of government "jobs" programs look very silly.   Too bad we don't seem to be able to apply simple arithmetic very often, at least not among our liberal elites, such as those at the Washington Post or, for that matter, at the White House.

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