Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds.
At the same time, government-provided benefits "” from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs "” rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.
Those records reflect a long-term trend accelerated by the recession and the federal stimulus program to counteract the downturn. The result is a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs.
Buried in the ariticle is a quote that I have to cite as perhaps the worst analysis I have ever seen:
The shift in incomeshows that the federal government's stimulus efforts have been effective, says Paul Van de Water, an economist at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
"It's the system working as it should," Van de Water says. Government is stimulating growth and helping people in need, he says. As the economy recovers, private wages will rebound, he says.
How does the income shift prove the stimulus worked? The problem is, as usual, a difficult one of evaluating what the economy would have done without the stimulus. The mere shift in income is a necesary outcome of the stimulus -- all it means is that we have succesfully robbed Peter to pay Paul -- it says nothing about whether Peter and Paul are more wealthy in aggregate had we not moved money around by force. In fact, proponents of the stimulus never, ever address a very simple fact - someone was using the money to run a business or invest or buy things or employ people before the government took it for stimulus programs. And it is really, really hard to look at the body of stimulus programs and come to the conclusion that the private sector was investing the money worse, which is the only way stimulus would occur.