Remember when you told your Math teacher that the equations she was teaching would never be needed in the real world? You reluctantly agreed to learn the seemingly useless problems and made the grade. In order to understand governmental accounting that Math teacher may well prove to be invaluable.
The Obama Administration exclaimed that it would be the most transparent White House in history evidenced by providing a website called recovery.gov that would allow America's to track the progress of the $787 billion Stimulus package. The website gives readers statistics of what States received money, what business or agency the money went to, and how many jobs were “saved or created” as a result of the stimulus. As of October 30, 2009, recovery.gov boasts 640,329 jobs saved or created.
Most Americans cheered Obama's attempt at transparent government accountability. By doing so it appeared to be a breath of fresh air to see how our tax dollars are being spent. Others are a bit more skeptical and decided to put the numbers on the website to the test. The 'fact checkers' got busy.
In South Carolina, the Recovery.gov website says there were 2,470 contacts, loans, or grants handed out totaling a bit more than $3.8 billion dollars. From those awards, the site says, 8,139 jobs were saved or created. Anyone with a pocket calculator can do some quick calculations with astonishing results. Based on the Government figures, one job saved or created, cost to taxpayers ruffly $467 thousand dollars.
The Greenville News also focused attention on South Carolina and found that even the 8,139 Job number saved or created was bogus. The paper said, “The State Commerce Department puts the number at 3,497 jobs — less than half of what’s being touted. And more than half of those were in a summer youth employment program” The numbers on Recovery.gov and from the State Commerce Department don't seem to correlate. These errors are not attributed to just South Carolina others are reporting similar findings.
California, Colorado, New York, Georgia, Texas, and Florida are just some of the problem states that have been investigated thus far. Some of the jobs listed on the site have not even been implemented. Some are six week training programs. And still others are being counted as jobs if someone received a raise. For a full explanation of each state listed, please clack on their hyper-links.
The White House is relating that the multiplicity of mistakes are typographical errors due to encoding problems. If that is the case, one should be very concerned about the White House figures for the cost of Health Care Reform and other government programs. The government has been notorious for underestimating or overestimating figures when it is in the pursuit of some new government run legislation like the aforementioned.
Maybe, the White House would have rather you not learned those equations in High School as those lessons have indeed proved invaluable to understand the fuzzy government accounting system. Maybe the New Mantra on the Hill should be, “Read the Bill and Do the Math”.