Two recent stories in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, reported on the activities of my own Congressperson, Carol Shea-Porter. Both give me ample opportunities to plug Frédéric Bastiat.
The first headline: "Shea Porter gets look at couples' green dream home":
PORTSMOUTH -- Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter saw what going green is all about Thursday during a tour of Marc and Cheryl Batchelder's dream home on Lawrence Street.Marc and Cheryl are building a "Platinum LEED" home in Portsmouth, very energy-efficient. I hope things work out for them, but why is Shea-Porter involved? You have to read down to the very end of the story…
Through tax credits and other financial incentives, Shea-Porter said the government will continue to try and help people as well as business owners that want to build similar homes and offer sustainable products.Ah. This is another way of saying: we're giving these people tax breaks, because otherwise what they're doing would make no economic sense whatsoever.
Foster's, and Shea-Porter, present this as a Free Lunch. But, as we know, there ain't no such thing. I'm sure Marc and Cheryl are nice people, but they're paying less, so, inevitably other people—by which I mean: me, and probably you too—will have to pay more.
Shea-Porter, of course, is eager to make well-publicized visits to the visible recipients of the subsidies; I would bet she's staying away from the relatively invisible folks on the losing end of the bargain. She might even think they don't exist. She's a true believer in a fantasy government (in Bastiat's words) by which every one seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.
Foster's is oblivious to the issue, as usual.
The second article describes the next stop on the Shea-Porter Economic Illiteracy tour, "Rep. Shea-Porter visits two green businesses in Dover" is, if possible, even more fawning and less critical:
DOVER -- It's not just an elite idea anymore.Again, nice people doing nice environmentally sustainable things, and Shea-Porter is involved, why? I would imagine you can guess, but:
Green businesses are taking hold in regular neighborhoods and offering regular services, from filling up your gas tank and grabbing a cup of coffee to picking up some paint or supplies for a home repair job -- two concepts U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter learned are taking off locally.
"I'm expecting to see a green economy creating new green jobs," Shea-Porter said. "This works. This creates jobs. More jobs come from those jobs and that's how you build a community."Not to be harping on Bastiat or anything, but Shea-Porter's "green jobs" hype is just another instance of the broken window fallacy that he debunked long ago. "Creating new green jobs" via government expenditure is visible, and will earn you a Congressperson visit and newspaper coverage. But the jobs not created, or even destroyed, due to decreased private investment are invisible (except in statistics), and will go unpublicized, and unmentioned.
"We're getting to the point where Washington is looking at the big picture," Shea-Porter said. And that means grant funds for similar projects should soon be flowing into the hands of entrepreneurs who want to jump of [sic] the green bandwagon, she said.These "entrepreneurs" are, of course, not engaging in true entrepreneurship. Real entrepreneurs attempt to provide new products and services that people would actually want to buy, seeking out private investors willing to risk their own capital to get a chance at a handsome return. It's a high-risk game with their own money, many fail, but the result is an increase in general prosperity.
The "entrepreneurs" Shea-Porter's talking about, on the other hand, are simply good at getting taxpayers to be venture capitalists for their boondoggles; taxpayers have zero chance of any return on their "investment".
Gee thanks. Just what we need.
The story's final paragraph I think may have made steam come out my ears:
"This really is just bringing back our frugal Yankee ways," Shea-Porter said.Right, Carol. Those old-time Yankees were always on the lookout for Federal grant money handouts.