Recently, our paper ran an article discussing wind plants and how wind could provide jobs and keep farmers and ranchers in business. The article completely ignored how much of wind has nothing to do with providing a service but rather the government taking money from some people and giving it to others, by way of subsidies, grants and requirements for utilities to purchase expensive “renewable” energy. I am sure some people will say “But jobs were created.” Yes, they were, like this:
Your neighbor Kevin decides he wants to run a bakery. He knows nothing about baking and has no funds, so he goes to the government to ask for assistance. Since Kevin is only baking sugarless products that are low in calories made with organic ingredients, the government eagerly gives him as much money as he needs.
Kevin buys a building, equipment, and sets out selling healthy bakery products. Sadly, many people did not find Kevin’s cuisine to their liking. His food is very expensive. Worse, Kevin would open when he wanted, never keeping regular hours. One could not just “stop by” and pick up baked goods. However, the government was insistent that Kevin was a visionary and his cuisine was on the cutting edge of future nutrition. To help “educate” people on the health benefits of organic, sugar-free though not-so-tasty baked goods, the government mandates that people buy 20% of their baked goods from Kevin. Kevin’s sales skyrocket. In fact, in a short time, he needs additional space and employees. Kevin returns to the government and asks for more money and a guarantee of continued support. After some discussion, it is agreed that Kevin’s business is essential and must continue to get government support and money.
Kevin opens an additional eight bakeries in nearby towns. These are met with the same lukewarm response his first bakery was. This necessitates passing ordinances in all eight towns requiring people to buy 20% of their baked goods from Kevin. With time, Kevin garners the support of several other towns, even in other states. A standard is born and there are many areas that mandate 20% of baked goods must come from a business with “healthy food” like Kevin makes.
Local bakers who sell the traditional baked goods begin to complain that supporting Kevin is a waste of tax money. All surveys and observations show a large percentage of the people buying from Kevin are throwing away the purchases. They buy the higher priced baked goods and discard them so they can purchase their other baked goods from the traditional bakers. The government responds that healthy food is a matter of national concern. Too many people are obese and Kevin’s helping fight that.
Study after study shows Kevin is having no effect on the eating habits of the towns where his bakeries are located. People are simply forced to spend extra money on food they throw away in order to buy the food they want. Kevin makes money no matter what people do or do not eat, so long as the people are forced to buy from him in order to be allowed to buy traditional baked goods.
Protests arise and people start to complain loudly that Kevin is not helping with health and he is using resources (light, heat, flour, etc) that could go to food that is not thrown away. In an effort to stop the complaints, Kevin points out that he employs 600 people and runs nearly 100 bakeries. He is a part of the economy of the towns where his bakeries sit. How could people possibly object to jobs and income. In fact, 80% of the landlords owning his buildings qualified for government grants to upgrade the buildings. Otherwise, the buildings might be empty still. Kevin is also certain that tales of his customers tossing out the baked goods are completely false, rumors created by his competitors. When confronted with numbers showing his business has done virtually nothing to reduce the purchase of traditional baked goods, Kevin again says these are lies from his competitors.
The government holds fast and keeps giving Kevin more grants and subsidies, in spite of mounting evidence that the only one benefitting from all of this is Kevin and his employees. Anyone who disagrees just does not understand economics.