Thursday, June 26, 2008

McCain's Jobs Program: EBay

McCain on Ebay:

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee regularly asserts that 1.3 million people worldwide "make a living off EBay." He holds up the figure as evidence the world's largest Internet auctioneer is a model for job and economic growth.
"Ask Meg Whitman [former EBay CEO and McCain campaign co-chairman] how many there was 10 years ago, when she took over of the CEO of EBay -- it was in the thousands," McCain, 71, said after citing the 1.3 million jobs figure at a town-hall meeting in Westport, Connecticut, on April 9. "It's called an information-technology revolution, and it's not that much different as far as its effects worldwide as the industrial revolution was."
The reporter who wrote the article took McCain up on his suggestion and did ask Meg Whitman, who said that McCain has it wrong. As this Slate article explains, the 1.3 million figure comes from a study which estimated how many people use EBay as EITHER a primary or secondary source of income. "Secondary source of income" means making some money--any amount of money. The bulk of these are very likely people like my grandmother, who buys and sells a couple hundred dollars worth of books a year through EBay. She'd be surprised to hear that McCain is holding up her hobby as a model for job growth.

The article has quotes from economists and others ridiculing McCain's suggestion that EBay is a model for boosting employment. (Since McCain has acknowledged elsewhere that he doesn't know how to use a computer, I wonder if even understands how EBay works.) McCain repays the sentiments with his own dis on economists:
He has shown increasing disdain for any economist who questions his policy prescriptions. Earlier this month, he lashed out at critics of his proposal for a summer gas-tax holiday.

``You know the economists?'' McCain said June 12 at Federal Hall, near the New York Stock Exchange. ``They're the same ones that didn't predict this housing crisis we're in. They're the same ones that didn't predict the dot-com meltdown. They're the same ones that didn't predict the inflation that's staring us in the face today.''
As Greg Mankiw notes with an usually sarcastic tone, it's a good thing McCain saw all this coming in his crystal ball.

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