Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clearing Up A Misconception

I'd like to write a new post about this, since the comment I'm about to write about is buried way back on my original post breaking down the House Stimulus Bill.

I received a comment there that reads as follows:

The weakness of your analysis is that you are setting out to prove a point -- thus you study the information, not to discern the real results of the spending (which are hardly to be seen as an investment with a defined return in income), but to show a conclusion that you had arrived at prior to the investigation.

While I may share similar opinions, I do not let them influence my
study of the data.

This comment is a misinterpretation of my mission with these posts regarding the stimulus, which has been to vet information at a level of detail that few have chosen to undertake, and to present that data at some kind of readily digestible level of summary breakdown.

While I have made commentary on what I feel to be wasteful or unnecessary, I do not believe I have inaccurately broken down the data for the purpose of proving a point, rather my points have grown out of my analysis of the data.

I made my original spreadsheet of the information contained in the stimulus bill simply with an eye at providing an easier way to read the information.

From there however, as I started to find items like money set aside for ACORN, money set aside for researching the climate, and started to recognize the vast amount of money set aside for government salaries and expenses, all specifically labeled as such, I felt the need to provide the breakdowns that I have.

I have yet to be challenged on my particular allocations of funds to certain categories, despite, as of right now 579 total downloads of the spreadsheets I have provided. I certainly welcome any debate as to whether you feel I've misallocated anything, however. I'm not Al Gore. Anything I say is open to debate.

As to the challenge that I have not examined the data to see the real results of the spending, this is again incorrect.

This bill is being sold expressly as a necessary stimulus to the economy, and is being forcefully pushed as an absolutely urgent necessity. Therefore, my examination has been to look at what items would provide stimulus to the economy in the shortest manner. I made this more clear in my breakdown of the Senate Stimulus, wherein I even allocated items like the government hybrid cars and the TSA baggage check equipment to the stimulative column.

My breakdowns are time-functional, in that I felt the most stimulative items would begin letting money flow into the economy within 12 months from the bill's signing, while with the potentially stimulative column, I felt that the money would take over a year to get there, but would still likely get there. Government money allocated for the purpose of increasing the size of government programs, without sending money directly into the economy were allocated as growing government programs.

As a final point to the commenter, I do, in fact believe that this government spending absolutely should have a defined return on the investment calculated for every item, whether it be a financial return or a social return. These cost-benefit analyses are supposed to be the bedrock that bills like this are built on. Instead we are given no such analysis for anything at all.

While I have been against the necessity of this stimulus altogether, since I feel it is a terrible piece of legislation, I did not set out to manipulate data to prove a point. I meant to convey information in some kind of discernable summary breakdown, and then to allow the discussion to spread from there. This is why I made my spreadsheets available to anyone, and I hope my information has thus far proved to be useful.


  1. Your information has been very useful. I was actually surprised how graciously you lumped a lot of what I would call wasteful spending into stimulating spending. I see no bias in your analysis.

    Another interesting aspect that might be worth looking into would be the source of the money that our government plans on spending on our behalf. Who are we going to borrow this money from? Will there be a deferred tax increase once the economy recovers to pay back that debt? I don't believe many people have thought this far ahead yet, or I would have to believe nobody really cares.

  2. Thanks. No doubt I did that grudgingly, too. But call a spade a spade. $600 million of cars at, say, $20,000 a pop is still 30,000 cars and fast.

    Your latter question is something I'm researching right now, after hearing several radio interviews in the past week or so with Congressman Mark Kirk on that very subject.