Each month I will post my favorite paralogism from the previous month. I usually find these when reading articles about politics or religion. Maybe that’s why you’re not supposed to discuss those things at family gatherings.
This is not a debate of the economic stimulus package.
The Weekly Standard ran a Blog “Report” assessing the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors’ Seventh Quarterly Report on the effects of the $667 Billion Economic Stimulus package from 2009:
The council reports that […] the “stimulus” has added or saved just under 2.4 million jobs–whether private or public–at a cost (to date) of $666 billion. That’s a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job.
In other words, the government could simply have cut a $100,000 check to everyone whose employment was allegedly made possible by the “stimulus,” and taxpayers would have come out $427 billion ahead.
Paralogism: Almost every business has expenses beyond employment. But the analysis assumes that all money in the stimulus bill was used only for jobs / salaries. The math is wrong.
Update: I had composed the above analysis the day the article was posted, and two days later, the White House responded with the same answer:
[…] the White House responds to my piece by claiming that “stimulus” spending “didn’t just fund salaries but also went to the actual costs of building things.” I never said, however, that the $278,000 per job has gone to salaries. Rather, I said that each job has cost taxpayers $278,000.
New paralogism to defend the old one: The author now claims his $278,000 figure was not limited to salaries. However, when he reported his $278,000 figure, he claimed cutting $100,000 checks to job holders would have saved $427 billion. Cutting checks to job holders is known as salary, and salary does exclude the costs of building things.