- The Washington Times - Friday, November 4, 2011


Asian and African aliens are traveling around the country taking American jobs, and one politician wants to put a stop to it. The catch is, the fight is over circus animals.

Rep. Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, is boldly taking steps to stop job losses due to these four-legged foreign interlopers. He is spearheading the “Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act,” announced Wednesday, which will restrict the use of animals like lions, tigers and elephants in traveling circuses. The bill is primarily aimed at preventing alleged acts of animal cruelty but is also being sold as a job creator. Proponents say circuses will be forced to fill show time that had been taken up with animal acts by hiring additional clowns, tumblers and the ever-popular People of Alternative Body Type (sometimes called “freaks” by the insensitive and politically incorrect).

This sales pitch shows how desperate politicians have become to claim they are job creators. In this case, it makes no sense. Forcing the performing animals into retirement will threaten the jobs of animal trainers, handlers and veterinarians. It also will affect those who provide the animals with food, lodging and transportation. Those who provide these highly specialized animal-support services will be out of luck and out of work if the bill passes. Apparently not all the clowns are under the big top.

In another sign of desperation in the past week, the president played oracle to the divine, saying “God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work.” On Tuesday, Mr. Obama did his part by signing a proclamation designating Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., a national monument. The White House claimed that this represented “an incredibly important economic boost to the region” and would create 3,000 jobs. However, presidential spokesman Jay Carney was at a loss to explain exactly how this would happen. Presumably it would be through a combination of refurbishment projects and tourism, but it’s unlikely that Fort Monroe, as interesting as it is, will become a top-line tourist destination and, by extension, job-growth engine. If jobs could be created by a mere presidential proclamation, every even mildly historic site in the country would be dubbed monumental and begin churning out the jobs and the crisis of permanent 9 percent unemployment would be over.

As zany as these far-fetched schemes are, they have to work better than the usual means of tapping the federal leviathan to try to spur job creation in the Obama era. Take an example from Mr. Moran’s 8th congressional district in Virginia. In January 2010, the Energy Department awarded a stimulus grant totaling $1,499,601 to Bob Lawrence and Associates, Inc., a “Washington-based government relations firm” with strong Democratic ties. The grant was awarded for “Measuring the Costs & Economic, Social, Environmental Benefits of Nationwide Geothermal Heat Pump Deployment & the Potential Employment, Energy & Environmental Impacts of Direct Use Applications.” According to the reported activities for the third quarter of 2011, the firm maintained a website, “continued to conduct research, outreach and data collection,” and maintained the “Geothermal Contact Database which currently numbers 4,740.”

Specific tasks this boondoggle included were monthly conference calls, issuing a press release, arranging a factory tour and “touring the Water Furnace plant and Ball State University in Indiana while dropping off promotional items a Lawrenceburg, Ind., workshop.” Total jobs created for the $1.5 million: less than two-and-a-half. Talk about a circus.

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