Job Creation Is Code for Boondoggle

February 18, 2011   |  

Guest Column by Kevin J. Shutt, founder and chief blogger at the libertarian The Shutt Chute, http://kevinJshutt.com,

Florida Gov. Rick Scott isn’t making any friends in Tallahassee, or is he?

According to The Tampa Tribune, “Governor shows he’s a different kind of leader” by announcing his proposed budget at a Tea Party meeting near Orlando; notifying state legislators that he’s selling the state’s two planes and they’d be on the hook for their own travel; and not cozying up to the Tallahassee press corps, among others actions and words indicating he won’t accept “business as usual.”

Then, on Wednesday, he dropped the bombshell when he gave a virtual middle finger to about $2.4 billion in federal grant money for a proposed high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando, effectively killing the project.

This of course ignited a firestorm of protestations from all across the political spectrum, including a budding libertarian at my blog, The Shutt Chute. The Trib’s “Local leaders decry decision,” quotes Tampa’s mayor who championed the HSR system and several candidates for municipal offices as being outraged with Scott.

You can read my initial reaction here, just an hour or so after Scott’s press conference.
In standard, “status quo” fashion, Democrats and Republicans are joining forces across the proverbial aisle to find a backdoor method to go around Scott and keep the boondoggle on track.

“I don’t have a law school degree,” said U.S. Rep. John Mica of Florida, as quoted in The Tampa Tribune. “But, we are going to look at every option.”

The Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Mica appears to be teaming up with Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida, to investigate and fast track the creation of a new state entity, independent of the governor’s office, with the hope they can still secure some of that addictive federal grant money.

Over at Facebook, one of my political acquaintances posted the following status update this morning, “Florida FLOOD Nelson and Mica Office with calls telling them to STOP NOW!!” and included a link to this blog: Florida Political Press. I read the post and a few hours later decided to call.

Using my Livescribe smart pen, I was able to record both sides of the conversation with Mica’s office and Nelson’s. Listen in and then continue reading below.
embed code for pencast of my two phone calls:
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or the link: goo.gl/auBco
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My decision to record the conversations was last minute and the corresponding notes are sloppy because of that. Nonetheless, it’s hard not to hang up with those staffers, one of whom is just an intern, and not feel like whatever you had to say, because it’s a dissenting opinion, will get relegated to the circular file before reaching anybody with any clout.

To be fair, I completely understand that the guys and gals who answer the phones at these congressional offices are the lowest rung on the ladder; they’re at the bottom of the totem pole; they’re … you get the point, one guy was an intern and the other the self-professed “new guy.”

But, these staffers made no attempt to make me feel like my opinion was valued, even if it wasn’t in line with what their respective bosses were doing. In fact, I didn’t really give them much indication early on as to which way I was leaning.

I posted my conversation with Nelson’s and Mica’s offices on Facebook and got this feedback from whoever manages the AM 540 WFLA Orlando’s page: “Not answering anything resembling a question is an art form.”

I can’t help but wonder if they were non-responsive because I was in favor of Scott’s announcement, hate their jobs or lack proper customer service skills (making them on par with the customer service industry). Maybe it was that I was recording them.

The most important message I wanted to convey to Nelson and Mica, because they’re the ones making the biggest push to keep the high-speed rail alive, is that claims of 20,000+ jobs being created are a farce.

Obviously, there are jobs created with such a project but the $26 million in studies never look at the unintended consequences such as loss revenue for everybody from whom government is drawing the $2.4 billion and these “new jobs” in many cases could just be shifting jobs, following the money and, because of the new construction demand, artificially inflated prices in the supply line.

Not the least of our worries, we should seriously question the validity of a high-speed train to cover a two-hour drive-time commute.

I mean, who goes into business with the intent of “creating jobs.” Entrepreneurs start businesses because they have found (or think they have) a way to capitalize off the needs or wants of society. That jobs are created is a result of the business’ success.

In my experience, it is only ever governments that proclaim job creation when entering a new venture. And, the more vocal they are about the jobs, the less legitimate the project is bound to be.
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Kevin J. Shutt is founder and chief blogger at the libertarian The Shutt Chute, http://kevinJshutt.com, where individual liberty & personal responsibility go hand-in-hand.

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