Stimulating only statism
Iwas in Vermont the other day and made the mistake of picking up the local paper. Impressively, it contained a quarter-page ad, a rare sight these days. The rest of the page was made up by in-house promotions for the advertising department’s special offer on yard-sale announcements, etc. But the one real advertisement was from something called SEVCA. SEVCA is a “nonprofit agency,” just like The New York Times, General Motors and the state of California. And it stands for “South-Eastern Vermont Community Action.”
Why, they’re “community organizers,” just like the president! The designated “anti-poverty agency” is taking out quarterpage ads in every local paper because they’re “seeking applicants for several positions funded in full or part by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA)” — that’s the “stimulus” to you and me. Isn’t it great to see those bazillions of stimulus dollars already out there stimulating the economy? Creating lots of new jobs at SEVCA, in order to fulfill the president’s promise to “create or keep” 2.5 million jobs. At SEVCA, he’s not just keeping all the existing ones, but creating new ones, too. Of the eight new positions advertised, the first is:
“ARRA Projects Coordinator.”
Gotcha. So the first new job created by the stimulus is a job “coordinating” other programs funded by the stimulus. What’s next? “Grantwriter.” That’s how they spell it. Like in “Star Wars” — Luke Grantwriter waving his hope saber as instructed by his mentor Obi-Bam Baracki (“May the Funds be with you!”). The Grantwriter will be responsible for writing grant applications “to augment ARRA funds.”
The third job is a “Marketing Specialist” to increase “public awareness of ARRA-funded services.” Rural Vermont’s economy is set for a serious big-time boom: The critical stimulus-promotion industry, stimulus-coordination industry and stimulussupplementary-funding industry are growing at an unprecedented rate. The way things are going we’ll soon need a Stimulus-Coordination Industry Task Force and Impact Study Group.
I don’t want to give the impression that every job funded by the stimulus is a job coordinating the public awareness of programs for grant applications to coordinate the funding of public awareness coordination programs funded by the stimulus. SEVCA is also advertising for a “Job Readiness Program Coordinator.” This is a job coordinating the program that gets people ready to get a job. For example, it occurred to me, after reading the ad, that I might like to be a “Job Readiness Program Coordinator.” But am I ready for it? Increasing numbers of us are hopelessly unready for jobs. Ever since last November, many Americans have been ready for free health care, free day care, free college, free mortgages — and, once you get a taste for that, it’s hardly surprising you’re not ready for gainful employment. I only hope there are enough qualified “Job Readiness Program Coordinators” out there, and that they don’t have to initiate a Job Readiness Program Coordinator Readiness Program.
Oh, and let’s not forget the new job of “VITA Program Coordinator.” VITA? That’s “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.” It’s an IRS program designed “to help low-and moderate-income taxpayers complete their tax returns at no cost.” The words “no cost,” by the way, are used in the new Webster’s-defined sense of “massive public expenditure.” Whoops, I mean massive public “investment.” You might think, were you a space alien recently landed from Planet Zongo, that, if tax returns are so complicated that “low-and moderate-income taxpayers” have difficulty filling them in, the obvious solution would be to make the tax code less complex.
Of course, it’s not just “lowand moderate-income taxpayers” who have difficulty completing their tax returns. So do highincome taxpayers like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Tragically, they’re ineligible for the “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance” program. Indeed, the treasury secretary seemed under the misapprehension that it was a “Volunteer Income Tax” program, which would be a much better idea. But, being ineligible for VITA, Secretary Geithner was forced to splash out $49.95 for TurboTax and, simply by accidentally checking the “No” box instead of “Yes” at selected moments, was able to save himself thousands of dollars in confiscatory taxation! Oops, my mistake, I meant that, tragically, by being unable to complete his tax return due to a lack of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, Timothy Geithner was the only one of 300 million Americans to pass the Treasury Secretary Job Readiness Program.
SEVCA serves two rural counties with a combined total of a little over 40,000 households. If you wanted to stimulate the economy, you’d take every dime allocated to Windsor and Windham counties under ARRA and divide it between those households. But, if you want to stimulate bureaucracy, dependency and the metastasization of approved quasi-governmental interest-group monopolies as the defining features of American life, then ARRA is the way to go. Oh, you scoff: ARRA, go on, you’re only joking. I wish I were. We’re spending trillions we don’t have to create government programs to coordinate the application for funds to create more programs to spend even more trillions we don’t have.
The stimulus will do nothing for the economy, but it will dramatically advance the cause of statism (as Mark Levin rightly calls it). The vote in California is a snapshot of where this leads: The gangster regime in Sacramento is an alliance between a corrupt and/or craven political class wholly owned by a public sector union-bureaucracy extortion racket. So what if the formerly Golden State goes bellyup? They’ll pass the buck to Washington, and those of us in nonprofligate jurisdictions will get stuck with the tab. At some point, the dwindling band of citizens still foolish enough to earn a living by making things, selling things or providing services other than government-funded program coordination will have to vote against not just taxes but specific agencies and programs — hundreds and thousands of them.
The bad news is that our children will not enjoy the American Dream. The good news is they’ll be able to apply for an American Dream Readiness Assistance Coordination Grantwriter Program. May the Funds be with you!
Mark Steyn is a nationally syndicated columnist.