The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 19, 2013

Your View: Government spending is not efficient

— Tom Maertens' April 12 My View praising the efficiency of the federal government made some interesting points. Unfortunately, and I expect by design, it made no mention of waste from redundant programs or the fraud and abuse evident in some of the other programs he cited.

To counter Maertens' efficiency arguments I will cite just one federal program -- the January 2009 so-called Stimulus Package. About 51 months and $825 billion later the results seem reasonably clear to me. Rather than producing the promised -- or at least hoped for -- economic recovery it produced mostly broken promises and contributed significantly to a massive $17 trillion debt. Most of the promised jobs never materialized.

If you add the Americans who are out of work but looking for work and those who are out of work but have given up looking for work the unemployment rate is about 15 percent.

More than nine million able-bodied Americans are no longer in the workforce. The Energy Department doled out about $35 billion in stimulus to green energy companies. Many of those have since filed bankruptcy; others are in financial difficulty. Nationally, green technology accounts for only about 2 percent of employment.

The promise to lift two million Americans from poverty has not materialized. To the contrary, more than six million Americans have since fallen into poverty.

Enrollment in the food stamp program has increased by about 70 percent since the stimulus, to a record of about 48 million. Almost nine million Americans, many whose extended unemployment benefits have expired, have found it necessary to file for disability payments to survive.

The crux of my point here is that taking money from the private sector to be spent haphazardly by government is not efficient and cannot fix the economy. But it might destroy the moral foundation of personal responsibility. So the next time you see a smiling politician or government bureaucrat saying: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you -- be curious, and maybe just a little skeptical.


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