‘Saving money’ in Cloudcuckooland

Government economics sure are weird.

Imagine you go to the grocery store and the manager tries to convince you to pay $8 for a gallon of milk — twice the usual price.

“But wait,” he says. “I’ll give you a $4 subsidy or rebate for the gallon of milk, which drops the price to an affordable $4.”

That sounds better. But where did the other four dollars come from?

“This is Shifty, our pickpocket. He slipped it out of your pocket as you came in.”

“So half the eight dollar price is paid with money you already picked from my pocket, and now I’m supposed to pay you ANOTHER four dollars?”

“Look at it this way,” the manager replies. “I’m going to use this four dollars from Shifty to subsidize SOMEONE’S purchase of an eight-dollar gallon of milk today. If you don’t take the deal, I’m just going to offer it to someone else.”

The Clark County school district plans to “invest” $4 million of your tax dollars in rooftop solar panels for as many as 20 local schools. The hope is that the photovoltaic cells may save the district $190,000 per year on its electric bills for the next 20 years — the expected lifetime of the panels.

Do the math; the savings (even if the optimistic savings estimate proves accurate, and the set-up doesn’t go over budget, which it will) won’t repay the set-up costs. The whole proposal is a non-starter.

But wait! The school district expects to get $1.44 million in federal stimulus funds as a reward once the first five schools are outfitted. Then, the district has been promised $1.2 million in one-time rebate checks from NV Energy, the local electric monopoly, also upon completion of the first five installations.

Why, the district could get up to $5 million in one-time rebate checks once all 20 schools hook up their electric systems. What a savings to taxpayers!

Or is it? Don’t the federal “stimulus funds” come, in the end, from the same taxpayers? And the NV Energy “rebates” — won’t the same taxpayers end up covering those costs when they pay their own home electric bills? Surely NV Energy isn’t going to show a loss this year, out of the goodness of their hearts. So how is this any different from the store manager promising to “subsidize” your purchase of an $8 gallon of milk with $4 that Shifty already picked out of your other pocket?

We’re also told the photovoltaic panels are more affordable now, since more are being manufactured even as demand drops due to the recession.

That’s weird. Why would anyone be manufacturing more of these things even as demand drops? Are we paying additional, hidden tax subsidies for those manufacturers, that we’re not being told about?

Then, as an added benefit of this scheme, the main contractors, Helix Electric and Bombard Renewable Energy, contend the project will either “keep 50 people from being laid off” or “bring people who had been laid off back to work,” as electricians are paid above the prevailing wage — roughly $50 an hour — to perform these installations. In the process, many of those workers will receive specialized training in installing photovoltaic paneling. This is “a fantastic skill to have on the resume,” enthuses Earl Ward, district manager for Helix Electric.

Wait a minute. These workers are going to be learning how to do this? They’re going to be trainees? And the trainees are going to be paid more than $50 an hour — the equivalent of $110,000 a year before overtime and benefits?

We all know from taking our car to the garage that just because the mechanic working on our car makes $25 an hour (or whatever) doesn’t mean that’s the hourly charge you pay the garage for his work. Add in the outfit’s overhead, and you pay three times what the sweating mechanic makes. And government overhead is far, far higher. Taxpayers will actually end up spending hundreds of dollars per hour to get this work done — work that would pencil out as a loser without the government’s “shifty subsidies.”

Go read Frederic Bastiat’s “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” How many minimum-wage private-sector jobs could have been sustained if those dollars had been left in the pockets of Southern Nevada taxpayers to spend on goods and services they might rather have spent them on?

Meantime, with hundreds of thousands of Nevadans unemployed and looking for work, we’re supposed to believe the school district couldn’t have found trainees willing to learn how to install photovoltaic cells for less than $50 an hour?

Here are some other great ways the school district could help the local economy: They could have all the kids bring their pets to school, and hire local pet groomers to shampoo them at $50 an hour. Think of the jobs that would be sustained! Think of the “multiplier effect”! They could send out all the gym uniforms every day and have them dry-cleaned by local dry-cleaners paid $50 an hour! They could pay special “school dieticians” $50 an hour to buy high-priced granola and other goodies and pack them in special “backpacks” for the kids to take home on Fridays, on the assumption that American families (and families here illegally, which they refuse to even count but which the courts say we have to nourish) don’t know how to feed their own kids on weekends.

Why, there’s no limit to the make-work projects that could “help the local economy,” once we assume the tax money that funds the school district is all “free” — that there’s no need to pinch each nickel the way taxpayers are being forced to do at home … if we just ignore the fact that some of these taxpayers are actually losing their homes and moving away because of the already whopping school taxes wrapped into their unaffordable rents or mortgage payments.

Yep. Government economics sure are weird and interesting, here in Cloudcuckooland.

2 Comments to “‘Saving money’ in Cloudcuckooland”

  1. MamaLiberty Says:

    The bottom line in all of this, and something we must take special care to remember always, is that ANY sort of forced redistribution of wealth is THEFT, pure and simple.

    Whatever use is planned for the stolen loot is immaterial. And it doesn’t matter from whom the loot is stolen. Theft is theft.

  2. Mark Anthem Says:

    Our Govt has granted itself an unlimited license to steal. Whatever we used to accuse the Soviets of doing, has become common here now too. Are we a majority vote mob democracy or a rule of law republic, you must stand up now to preserve your rights and pass them on to your children.

    http://reason.com/archives/2010/08/16/the-governments-license-to-ste

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