Now food stamps are a stimulus program?

Real Clear Politics has the video but the pure idiocy of it isn’t worth the bandwidth strain on this site. Go see if you must, but here is the transcription:

Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: “Well, obviously, it’s putting people to work. Which is why we’re going to have some interesting things in the course of the forum this morning. Later this morning, we’re going have a press conference with Secretary Mavis and Secretary Chu to announce something that’s never happened in this country — something that we think is exciting in terms of job growth. I should point out, when you talk about the SNAP program or the foot stamp program, you have to recognize that it’s also an economic stimulus. Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity. If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It’s the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times.”

This is what is known in algebraic circles as an “unbalanced equation” – there is consideration for the “stimulative” effect but none for the cost of the initiator – taxpayer money for food stamps.The Keynesian assumption is that the mere creation of economic activity is stimulative, but because the total value of the purchase is included in the price of the goods purchased it is only a redistribution of money – left hand to right hand. A dollar of government spending = a dollar of consumption, but since 43 cents of the government spending  is borrowed and has an interest burden, a dollar of economic activity caused by food stamp usage costs more than a dollar and is therefore anti-stimulative.

Economic stimulus, like investing, only works when the return is greater than the initial investment…

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