One of the central arguments against big government is that a few of us is not smarter than all of us. That is, a relatively small number of bureaucrats in Washington can not make decisions for us, can not manage our economy, can not create jobs, can not ensure our welfare and happiness as well as each of us acting in our own best interests. The crowd really does have wisdom, even if individuals are not particularly wise.
For example, take a look at the trillion-dollar Stimulus Bill, which was supposed to create jobs by the truckload, build miles upon miles of roads and bridges, and cure all manner of societal ills through the application of taxpayer dollars and bureaucratic faery dust. We don’t even need to look at the entire bill, but a small part called the Rural Utilities Service, which sent tens of millions of dollars to small towns so they could create almost 3,400 jobs. The Heritage Foundation reported on the program’s progress thus far and found less than stellar results.
Some of the recipients have not used their stimulus awards to create a single job. The Wholesale Water Commission of Atchison County, Missouri, for instance, received a $22 million stimulus award, but has yet to even begin construction on the project for which the money was earmarked. Result: no jobs created.
The cities of Elkins, WV; Thomasville, AL; Ruidoso Downs, NM; Big Bend, WV; and City of War, WV, likewise have not created a single job between them, despite having been obligated, with Atchison County, a combined $47 million in stimulus funding through the RUS.
How many jobs would entrepreneurs have created around the country with that money? If the answer is “at least one”, we can say the government wasted our money. Yet quite a few otherwise smart people in Washington decided, against reason, that they are smarter than the rest of us. Indeed, they staked our well-being on the proposition that they are smarter than all of us.
They failed. Worse, we allowed them to bet our money on a program that was destined to fail from its very conception. A few of us can not manage our affairs better than all of us. No bureaucrat in Washington knows how to spend your money or build your business better than you. No bureaucrat knows better how to revitalize a community better than the people who live in the community. Again, the Stimulus Bill has shown us what I’m sure we already knew. Perhaps next time some bright politician comes up with another big government program to do what we know we can do better ourselves, we’ll stop them before they spend again.