The Fallacy That Government Creates Jobs

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute has an excellent piece on the economic benefit of so-called fiscal “stimulus”

In part, this is a debate about Keynesian economics, which is the theory that the economy can be boosted if the government borrows money and then gives it to people so they will spend it. This supposedly “primes the pump” as the money circulates through the economy. Keynesian theory sounds good, and it would be nice if it made sense, but it has a rather glaring logical fallacy. It overlooks the fact that, in the real world, government can’t inject money into the economy without first taking money out of the economy. More specifically, the theory only looks at one-half of the equation — the part where government puts money in the economy’s right pocket. But where does the government get that money? It borrows it, which means it comes out of the economy’s left pocket. There is no increase in what Keynesians refer to as aggregate demand. Keynesianism doesn’t boost national income, it merely redistributes it. The pie is sliced differently, but it’s not any bigger. …

Unfortunately, no matter how the issue is analyzed, there is virtually no support for the notion that government spending creates jobs. Indeed, the more relevant consideration is the degree to which bigger government destroys jobs. Both the theoretical and empirical evidence argues against the notion that big government boosts job creation.