The headline of a story in today's Detroit Free Press characterizes Gov. Jennifer Granholm's understanding of the state film production subsidies: "Goal of film tax credit is jobs, not more revenue."

There's a story from the 1960s about the late economist Milton Friedman visiting a large public works project in a third world country that was funded by U.S. foreign aid. Given the substantial investment, the famous economist was surprised to see thousands of men with shovels moving dirt one spadeful at a time. He asked his host, "Why don't they use bulldozers?"

"It creates more employment this way," came the response.

"Ah, it's a jobs program," said Friedman, who had imagined the taxpayer dollars were being provided to improve productivity and living standards.

One suspects that the great man's host was surprised by his follow-up question:

"Then why not give them spoons instead of shovels?"

~~~~~~~

Perhaps the economics courses given to Harvard law students don't explain that any project with a negative return on investment is by definition an unsustainable loser.

Stay Engaged

Simply enter your email below to receive our weekly email:

Facebook
Twitter

Most Popular

Jocelyn wanted her granddaughters to have a better school experience than the one she remembers when she moved her family to Detroit 17 years ago. Jocelyn and her daughter, Janine discuss freedom of choice and how it’s reminiscent of the 1965 Voting Rights Movement.

Related Sites