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I-Jobs? More like No-Jobs

5:30 AM ET, 07/22/2010

There has been a lot of talk about the number of jobs Governor Culver’s I-Jobs program is responsible for creating this week.  I-Job’s is Culver’s signature accomplishment during his first term as Iowa’s governor.

The program borrowed almost $1 billion to fund projects around the state.  After being in existence for a year now, intrepid reporter Dave Price of WHO-TV began his quest to find out how many jobs were actually created.  Price has found it difficult to track down specifics on this program as Culver’s office has blamed everything from staff turn over to bad weather conditions for the reason no solid numbers exist.

While the number of jobs created by the program seems to be elusive, like many things in life, there is a simple answer to what seems to be complicated question.  I can tell you exactly how many permanent jobs I-Jobs has created – not a single one.  I can also tell you exactly how many permanent jobs it will create in the future – zero.

You shouldn’t be surprised that the program will not create even one single job.  I-Jobs was never designed to create jobs, rather, it was designed just to spend money on government projects.  The only thing this program has to do with jobs is that it’s called “I-Jobs,” and Governor Culver and the Democrats who voted for this monstrous program want voters to believe it has created jobs.  The only thing it has created is more government spending.

I-Jobs is a misleading name since all the program does is spend money on construction projects, not create or even maintain any permanent jobs.  Building storm sewers, floodwalls, public works buildings, city halls, or fire stations doesn’t create jobs, it only creates temporary work.

On Tuesday, Governor Culver issued a press release claiming that more that 23,000 Iowans worked on I-Jobs projects in June.  I actually think that is an honest number, but realize that he didn’t say it created jobs, he says it created work.  There is a big difference between the two.

My wife and I are fortunate enough to be building a home.  If we used Governor Culver’s logic, we could say that we have created around 40 jobs by building.  We hire a general contractor, who then hires a foundation crew, a framing crew, plumbers, electricians, roofers, and so on.  It’s amazing to see the number of people who are involved in the process.  However, unlike Governor Culver, I understand that I’m a consumer, not an employer.

Culver’s I-Jobs program is really no different than my wife and I building our house.  While the state borrowed a billion dollars to fund the I-Jobs program, my wife and I borrowed a significant amount of money to build our home.

The banks that loaned the money to both looked at our ability to re-pay the loan, and based on the risk involved, determined an interest rate.  Both projects will take a number of years to pay off.  Come to think of it, we will be paying for Culver’s I-Jobs about as long as we will have to make our mortgage payments.

With the loan approved, construction has begun on our house, and if all things go according to plan, it will be finished before the holidays.  While the loan that my wife and I took out pays for all the materials and labor it take to build a house, the I-Jobs money goes to fund all the projects that it has awarded grants.  The only real difference is the scale of the two different projects.

When our house is completed and there is no more work to be done, all of the people who worked on our house will have to find another project on which to work.  The same is true of I-Jobs.  Once the money is spent, and there is a new City Hall in Jessup, a new fire station in Brooklyn, and a new clubhouse at the Story City Golf Course, there will be no more work to be done.

All those people who worked on these government projects will need to find other projects on which to work.  All of the money that is being spent by my wife and I on our house and all of the money that the government is spending on I-Jobs projects doesn’t create jobs, it creates work.  Republican legislators warned that Culver’s I-Jobs program wouldn’t create any permanent jobs, which is why they couldn’t support the proposal.

In March of 2009, State Representative Chris Rants exposed Culvers I-Jobs fallacies, saying, “In either case, the jobs will be long gone by the time the taxpayers are done making payments.  Remember, these are all public works jobs that should be completed in the next few years.  Once the broadband deployment is finished or the city hall has been rebuilt, the construction jobs are over.  Unlike when private enterprise takes on a capital projects plan, there isn’t a line of new workers waiting to fill up the new building. This is largely replacement of existing government structures.  At least the taxpayers should hope there isn’t a line of new government employees waiting,” Rants said.

Rants wasn’t some sort of prophet.  He, along with every other Republican member of the legislator, saw through Culver’s I-Jobs scam.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t do anything to stop the legislation from passing.

If Culver was serious about creating jobs, he would have done things that would have encouraged private businesses to grow or expand.  Instead he chose to borrow a bunch of money and use it to fund a bunch of government projects.   People are beginning to understand that I-Jobs has not, and will not, create any permanent jobs.  People are also beginning to understand that, when Culver has a choice, he sides with government instead of private business owners.

Governor Culver is about to learn something else.  While his I-Jobs program hasn’t created any jobs, it is also going to fail to maintain the one job he cares the most about – his own.

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