Election boom and bust

Rhonda Silence starnews@boreal.org

I think that everyone, regardless of his or her political affiliation, breathed a sigh of relief as election 2010 drew to a close. We may or may not be happy about the results, but it is nice to know that the fearmongering, mud-slinging, irritating election ads have come to an end for at least a little while.

However, I am a bit worried that the country’s economy is going to take a nosedive now that election activity has ceased. Because although the political ads were annoying, they also stimulated the economy. The election was a real American Reinvestment and Recovery program.

Think of all the marketing firms and campaign strategists and speech writers who fired up their computers and printers last August for the primary and churned out press releases, print ads, and television spots.

Think of all the journalists and photographers for all the newspapers and television stations across the country that traveled around the country, reporting on the campaign. Think of all the think-tank talking heads and researchers who scurried about “fact-checking.” Think of all the pollsters who spent hours on the phone, trying to predict what would happen at the polls.

Think of the makeup artists and hair stylists and videographers who had temporary employment making candidates look good.

And despite concerns about carbon footprints, there was all that travel. Nationally, there were a lot of incumbents— Democrat and Republican— flying back to home states to campaign. Retired politicians came out of retirement to travel around the country to lend endorsements. Regionally there was a lot of driving as candidates criss-crossed the state for grip-and-grin photo ops. Airlines and gas stations reaped the benefits of campaign travel. Pilots and bus drivers had jobs for a while.

The hospitality industry also saw a small boon during the election season, as candidates gathered constituents at coffee shops or arranged elegant catered fundraisers. Candidates and their campaign managers and families and friends all had to sleep somewhere, so hotels and motels had politicians filling empty beds in the “shoulder season.”

Now that the election is over, the mad spending spree has come to an end. The airwaves are quieter and newspapers and magazines are absent the strident “don’t vote for that guy” ads.

But unfortunately there are some people who are not relieved that it is all over. There are probably quite a few people who benefited from the political battle who now number among the unemployed. Annoying as it is, an American election is a huge industry.

So it is now time for our politicians to get down to work to find a way to get those people—and all the other unemployed folks in America—back to work.

We can’t wait until another election season.

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

Thomas Sowell

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2010-11-13 digital edition

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