When I see a letter written by a union representative, I expect muddled thinking on economic issues. Steven Buffalo of Operating Engineers Local 139 does not disappoint. Read it here.
To paraphrase his point of view, hundreds of members of his union are working this summer on road projects, thanks to the stimulus. These jobs are proof that the stimulus has created jobs and those who suggest otherwise are lying or believing a lie. In his industry they "measure how much work is getting done by counting hours worked" (a rather disturbing means of measuring work IMHO) and his members hours have been in decline in recent years. According to Buffalo, building construction and underground utility work is down 64 and 26% respectively, but road building has increased by 4%. He thanks Reps Cory Mason and Bob Turner and Senator John Lehman for the road work.
I won't quibble with Buffalo's stats. For the sake of this discussion, let us assume they are correct. What Buffalo misses of course is that the money for road projects comes from taxing current or future profitable activities. Do a bit too much of that and you get less entrepreneurial activity. This might help explain the 64% decrease in building construction. And it might help explain the high and getting higher unemployment numbers conveniently overlooked by Buffalo. But his members have jobs and perhaps that is the extent of his concerns. For those of us concerned about the general welfare, we need to judge the stimulus by a different measure, namely, the employment numbers. And by that measure, the stimulus is a failure. And that is no lie Mr. Buffalo.