Yes, government does create jobs

Not a surprise to liberals (or other people who actually have a data-driven approach to understanding policy), but, yes, of course government can help create jobs.  What do you think hiring a teacher or firefighter is.  Not a job?  But beyond that, like any good investment, good investments undertaken by governments (and please don’t tell me governments can’t– when’s the last time private industry built a highway) result in jobs.  From North Carolina’s Progressive Pulse:

The evidence from credible economic research demonstrates that using state and local tax dollars for public investments in education, transportation, public safety, and health helps to create jobs and increase household income by reducing business costs and increasing worker productivity.  [emphasis mine]

The majority of credible studies have found that reducing state and local taxes has, at most, a small positive impact on job creation and economic growth and only in cases when tax cuts haven’t adversely impacted public services. Because of balanced-budget requirements, however,  state and local tax cuts almost always must be paid for with cuts to public investments that support jobs and strengthen the state’s economy.

Furthermore, most studies have shown that the modest benefits of state and local tax cuts on economic growth take a long time to materialize and mostly result from large firms relocating from other states. In contrast to tax cuts, increasing public investments creates jobs and generates better economic outcomes for individual states and the nation as a whole.  [emphasis mine]

I get so tired of hearing GOP politicians drone on with “the government never created a job” when it is such a baldly absurd statement.  It would be nice for a journalist to call them on this sometime.  Just a simple, “seriously?!”  Alas, that might be the dreaded liberal bias.  I’m sure the truth is somewhere in between this false statement and reality.

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Chart of the Day

Rising college costs (in real dollars):

Yowza!  I wouldn’t complain if it actually helped me get a raise every once in a while :-).  Alas, it’s just a symptom of states cutting back on historical commitments to affordable public higher ed:

Terry Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education, which represents colleges in Washington, said the cause of the price increases for the 80 percent of college students who attend public institutions is clear. State appropriations to higher education declined 18 percent per student over the last three years, the College Board found, the sharpest fall on record.

“To see increases of 20 percent, as we saw in California, to see gains of 15 percent in other states, is simply unprecedented,” Hartle said. “Tuition is simply being used as a revenue substitute in many states.”

But, hey, at least rich people have nice low taxes so that can invest in creating jobs!

Gimme my gun!

I give the Gallup poll a hard time here a lot for asking some pretty inane questions.  But, when you ask a consistent question over a long period of time, you can really learn something.  We may not be able to judge from the following exactly American would actually stand on a real-world policy debate, but we can know that Americans are simply much less supportive of gun control efforts in recent years:

1959-2011 trend: Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?

1990-2011 trend: In general, do you feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?

That’s some pretty serious movement in public opinion.  Why?  I’m thinking that part of it must be that Democratic politicians have almost completely dropped support for gun control as a political loser (despite the NRA’s secret fears about Obama).  Without a countervailing push to the “more guns is always better” line of the NRA, etc., it would be only natural to see shifts in public opinion– which are very much an elite-driven phenomenon.   I’m sure there’s plenty more going on, but that what’s struck me at the moment.  I’m not much of a time series guy (damn did I hate that class in grad school), but I would be really interested in seeing some results of modelling this data over time to try and explain what’s going on.

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