Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

No wonder Congressional Dems want to run against George Bush

Because, according to Rasmussen, their agenda is considered by a good majority of likely voters to be "extreme":

Most U.S. voters believe the Democratic congressional agenda is extreme, while a plurality describe the Republican agenda as mainstream.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters think the agenda of Democrats in Congress is extreme. Thirty-four percent (34%) say it is more accurate to describe the Democratic agenda as mainstream.

That’s the message. And how is it received. Well, one of the more useful things Rasmussen does is also show us the poll of what it calls the "political class". I.e. our betters inside the beltway who certainly have a much better feeling of what is in our best interests than we do. Rasmussen compares the "Political Class" with the "Mainstream voters, and demonstrates the size of the disconnect we suffer under:

The Political Class, however, has dramatically different views of the agendas of the two parties from what Mainstream voters think. Ninety-one percent (91%) of the Political Class say the Democratic agenda in Congress is in the mainstream, but 70% of Mainstream voters see that agenda as extreme.

You may be asking yourself how it is 57% in one paragraph and 70% in the next.  The top number are Mainstream voters and the Political Class added together.  The second number is Mainstream voters alone.

And yes, the gulf is huge.  It explains the anger in America and the cluelessness in Washington.  The Political Class think they’re doing the people’s work.  The people think the Political Class is a bunch of elitists bent on taking more and more control and ignoring what the people actually want.

Moving on to the “Republican agenda” (which I’d love to see stated somewhere) the results are quite different:

Voters are more narrowly divided when it comes to the agenda of congressional Republicans. Forty-five percent (45%) of voters view the GOP agenda as mainstream, but nearly as many (40%) say it’s more accurate to call it extreme. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.

But again, when you break it out by Mainstream voters and Political Class, the numbers widen:

While 53% of Mainstream voters see the Republican congressional agenda as in the mainstream, 81% of Political Class voters regard it as extreme.

So among Mainstream voters, the GOP agenda enjoys a slight majority.  Among the Political Class – not so much.  My guess is you would also find a close association between Mainstream voters and Political Class and Tea Parties and Progressives.

~McQ

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The Republicans are lost: a continuing saga

It looks like the GOP might very well take back the House this fall. They even have an outside shot at the Senate. If some of the dynamics, such as the results in Missouri last week, continue to move in their direction, this could be an historic election.

My reaction to that is basically “So what?”

As I’ve said before, when it comes to any serious change in direction for the country, the current crop of Republicans is not the solution, they’re part of the problem.

It’s no better now than when I wrote the earlier post. The oleoginous Cantor is still in the House leadership. You can seem him in a picture associated with this article in the Washington Examiner, which points out that the GOP has absolutely no idea what to do if they happen to get back the Congress.

To me, the following sentence in that article was most telling:

Some young House Republicans have put out a call for voters to e-mail their ideas.

In other words, even the newest current GOP members of Congress don’t have a clue what to do.

If these young Congressmen are sincere, it means they’re unqualified for their jobs. Why are they doing in their seats if they don’t have a clue what to do to lead the country?* Plus, you can sum up what should be their highest priority in two words: cut spending. There are already plenty of ideas on how to do that, and if they need more, placing a list of federal programs on a dartboard and throwing darts would probably work pretty well.

Their second highest priority can also be expressed in two words: repeal Obamacare. Among Republican politicians, that one should not even be controversial. All the polls we’ve seen say that Republican voters are foresquare for that option.

The more likely interpretation of their email appeal, though, is that it’s just a cynical way to look as though they are listening to their constituents. They know they aren’t going to do anything of importance, but they’re too cowardly to admit it.

So they’re just playing politics as usual, every chance they get. Here’s another example, in which you can see Cantor railing about Rangel and his ethics violations:

Personally, I think “Chollie” Rangle is a snake, but I get a lot less incensed over his extra apartments than I do over the fact that he has spent forty years trying to figure out ways to take money from people he doesn’t like and give it to people he does. That, plus his complete indifference to the long term damage to American society of those thefts.

Likewise, this “drain the swamp” rhetoric from Republicans like Cantor means nothing to me. I consider the revolving door between politicians and high-paid lobbyists to be just as ethically wrong as more direct means of appropriating other people’s money. We’ve seen people like Trent Lott use that door recently, and I’m expecting Cantor to use it at some point later in his life. So of course, he’s not going to say anything about that problem, and that makes his lamentations about Rangel nothing more than political theater.

It’s all intended to paper over the problem that the current crop of Republicans is clueless about where to go from here. The know if they just go through the motions, as Cantor is doing above, they’ll probably get back control and the perqs that go with it. So, in their minds, why should they risk such a windfall from the Democrat’s blunders? Why should they actually stand up for proposals that might really make a difference but are guaranteed to make some constituency mad and endanger their chances of recovering Congressional dominance?

For establishment Republicans, the name of the game is not leading the country. It’s gaining and holding onto power. That, of course, is why so many of us see so little difference between the parties – the Democrats have the exact same goal.

The time is almost certainly coming when that game makes our economic and political system so unstable that establishment politicans get their playing field yanked out from under them. However, I don’t think more than one in ten of them have the imagination to envision such an outcome, and the rest are just hoping to push it down the road until they’re gone. It’s going to have to get a lot worse before establishment GOP politicans either wake up or get kicked to the curb.

Until then, enjoy the football game this November, and cheer for your team as you watch the election returns, but understand that we won’t get any difference that really matters. Yes, Obama’s hard left ideology will be blunted, and I also prefer divided government to what we have now. But the big goal is reversal, and we’re just not yet in bad enough shape for that to happen. A GOP victory this fall just means a small delaying action against the coming reckoning.

After all, the Republicans could repeal Obamacare, sell off huge government interests in automotive and finance industries, cut a trillion dollars in spending and they would be… back where we were nineteen months ago when Obama took office. I consider it preposterous that they’ll even do a fraction of that.

We’ll have to do much, much more to regain a stable long term government, because the debt bomb ticks louder every month. Social Security and Medicare are going to blow up in our faces; the math and demographics are simply inescapable.

I’d like to be optimistic and presume that the GOP is working to establish a base, and gearing up for serious action after hopefully winning the White House back in 2012. But I’m not. They’re just floating along, riding their perqs, and waiting for the Democrats to keep looking bad. Based on everything I’ve seen about the establishment GOP, they never intend to do anything that seriously reverses the growth of spending and debt. Even if a Pawlenty or Daniels were sitting in the White House, these drones in Congress like Cantor are never going to take the risky and painful actions needed to avert the consequences of too-large-and-ever-growing government.

(*) I ask this rhetorically, of course. Many of them are members of the parasitic political class, and considerations of how to lead the country had little or nothing to do with their decision to run.

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Gibbs lights a fire (update)

As presidential spokesmen go, Robert Gibbs is among the worst I’ve ever seen. Yesterday, without provocation or necessity, he proved the point – he picked a fight with what he calls, "the professional left". That would be the part of the progressive left that has been pounding Obama for not being "progressive" enough. Not being progressive enough is exemplified by the lack of a public option in the health care bill, gay marriage, DADT, and Guantánamo Bay.

Said Gibbs in an interview with The Hill, Gibbs said of the criticism from that quarter:

“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

On healthcare:

“They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

[…]

“They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

I don’t know about you, but I have gotten a huge chuckle out of his comments.  Now they know how Joe Lieberman felt (while his boss was piling on at the time).  But grins and chuckles aside, this points to something many people have noted about this White House – it is as thin skinned as any I’ve ever seen. 

Gibbs is a true believer – he’d have to be to say much of what he does each day.  And he is only the most visible of a bunch of true believers who work within the inner circles of the administration.  They cannot believe that those who should be their ideological soul mates are constantly criticizing them.  For instance, much of the “professional left” has criticized the administration’s two Supreme Court appointees for not being liberal enough.

My goodness – they’re women and one is of Hispanic heritage.  What more do they want!  They’ve hit all of the “progressive” diversity buttons and those people want more!

As for the “professional left” they’re in a frenzy today (well, name a day they’re not in a frenzy).

Firedoglake:

Maybe Mr. Gibbs it’s because the unions are losing power and you aren’t helping us. Maybe it’s because finance reform does little to impact those suffering from out and out mortgage fraud. Maybe it’s because medical costs and insurance are too high.

[…]

It seems to me that while your administration has put a bandaid on my gaping 10-inch surgical wound, you have done very little to treat the underlying problem that corporate America has too much control over our lives. We want to see you fight corporate America, not bloody the eyes of left-wing liberals and then kick us to the curb calling us drug addicts if we complain.

Because “corporate America” is the real villain.

John Aravosis, who admits to doing “dirty work” for the Obama campaign when they requested it:

The left isn’t upset with the President because we’re just too darned demanding. We’re upset with Barack Obama because he never seems to try. He talks a good talk, but when it comes time to actually follow through on his promises, he winces.

Point Aravosis.  Something many of us have noticed and commented on.  It’s called lack of leadership.  But hey, “dirty work” Aravosis helped put the man in the position so my sympathy is limited, if non-existent.  Because of the John Aravosis’ of the world, we’re stuck with this administration for two more years.

Jane Hamsher says the problem is Obama:

Gibbs does the only thing you can do when trying to defend a record of corporatist capitulation: triangulate against your critics as extremists. But the fact is, the positions Obama has abandoned aren’t the exclusive territory of Dennis Kucinich. Standing up to the banks and the insurance companies, reducing the political influence of corporate money, defending Social Security and ending the wars are issues that are broadly popular with the American public. That’s why Obama campaigned on them in order to pave his way to the White House.

And she notes:

Gibbs’ slam on progressives just as the August break begins means that Congressional Democrats across the country are going to have to bear the brunt of his comments as they try to whip up enthusiasm for their campaigns. They’re going to have to explain why they deserve support even as the White House holds progressives in contempt. Progressives are the people who volunteer, who donate, who vote, and the polls show a serious enthusiasm gap. Members of Congress are already angry that the president blames “Washington DC” for the country’s ills, and that’s a group that includes them. Pissing off the base like this isn’t going to help — it’s a self-indulgent, petty and ill-timed move.

The biggest problem faced by Democrats, if primary turnouts are any indication, is a lack of enthusiasm.  This particular bone-headed (but welcome) move doesn’t help that problem at all.

Which is what Digby at Hullabaloo also points out:

There is also a case to be made that the Democratic establishment should be concerned about enthusiasm — that the activist base needs to be handled with a little bit more respect because they are the ones who knock on doors and make the calls. There’s something to that, of course, particularly in the mid-terms which depend so heavily on getting the base out.

But what’s dangerously myopic about going ballistic as Gibbs did in his statements is that just 10 years ago we had a little event in which only a tiny portion of the base went with a third party bid from the left — and the consequences were catastrophic. Democrats, of all people, should remember that every vote matters.

Indeed.  So it is interesting that the frustration with their base boils over at the most inappropriate time of all.  Message discipline – something at which the Obama campaign was very good – seems to have become a lost art within the White House.  Instead their immaturity is more and more evident every day.  As Ezra Klein points out, when compared to Ronald Reagan, Obama’s poll ratings are almost exactly the same.  Yet we see this whining petulance from the likes of Gibbs which obviously mirrors his boss.  If Reagan was bothered by his critics, his critics surely never knew that.  It’s called “maturity” and “leadership”.

Of course course Gibbs is “walking back” on his comments, calling them “inartful”.  Hate to tell you buddy, but your entire tenure as White House press secretary has been the definition of “inartful”.

And, of course, this will all blow over.  Despite Digby’s implied threat that some of the “professional left” could seek a third party on the left, that’s not going to happen.  Like co-dependent drug addicts (speaking of drug testing) these two groups need and depend on each other.  The “professional left” with whine about the White House and the White House will whine about them.  But when push comes to shove, the professional left will line up behind their only choice.  Maybe not in the numbers they could once muster, but still there.

Meanwhile, righteous rants will continue on the lefty blogs, hurt feelings will be displayed, promises about not supporting Obama anymore will be made and then forgotten.  Like I said, these folks really don’t have anywhere else to go.

UPDATE: What would a post on the “professional left” be without a word from Keith Olberman (via Ragspierre in comments):

~McQ

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Dale’s Observations For 2010-08-10

.@dmataconis Did someone say, "Captain Obvious"? http://twitpic.com/2dh7gp #

MV Agusta really DID screw Harley-Davidson! H-D had to pay the Italians $20 million to take it back. http://bit.ly/axjvRS #

After 9 years of pay and benefit increases, Federal workers are now earning double their private counterparts. http://usat.me?39636276 #

FOMC statement says no change in interest rates are in the offing, as economic growth remains slow. http://usat.me?39645182 #

Note to @DerSPIEGEL: Its not really appropriate for Germans to make moral pronouncements about WWII actions. http://bit.ly/brpxDF #

Is America heading for a "lost decade" similar to Japan's? http://bit.ly/9jmAHT #

These people have the power to put you in jail for years. But don't dare think that you can hold them accountable. http://bit.ly/bkk3a3 #

The National Federation of Independent Business said its optimism index fell 0.9 to 88.1 in July. http://bit.ly/b0hO8f #RecoverySummer #

The productivity of U.S. workers unexpectedly fell last quarter, increasing cost-cutting pressures. http://bit.ly/cOCkDJ #RecoverySummer #

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So how is November looking for the two parties?

Well, the POLITICO is reporting that, against all odds, the Democrat’s Senate majority may be in jeopardy. Apparently,a Republican polling firm, looking at 13 of the races, found them all to be within the margin of error (however the poll was so small that margin of error is huge). Another – American Crossroads – came up with similar results in a larger poll. As POLITICO points out, both together do suggest there’s an opening for Republican Senate candidates that wasn’t really visible previously. All 13 hot races seem to be very, very competitive.

Then there’s the House. Gallup has the generic Republican up by 6, 49% to 43%. In terms of the "generic" polling, that’s a huge gap. And watching the Democrats thrash around for something to run on beside their record tells you pretty much all you need to know about how the House should go.

Also in play are 37 governor’s races.  Scott Walker, a Republican candidate for governor in WI, makes the point that has elected other governors like Chris Christie of NJ – “austerity is ‘in’”.

And the focus of the people – almost all the people – is the economy.  Most are in no mood, given the shape of the economy, to hear about grand new spending programs or the cost of more government.   What they are interested in hearing about is how government is going to get its books balanced without again reaching into their wallets.

That naturally plays much better for Republicans than most Democrats.  Consequently you could see a good majority of those governor’s races going to the GOP.

So to answer my question in the title – not so hot for the Dems, looking pretty darn good for the Reps.  Of course, winning is step one for the GOP – if they don’t step up and do whatever is necessary to rein in this government, cut spending and work toward reducing the debt, they’ll be looking at a bloodbath as well, two year’s hence.

There’s very little patience among the populous these days.  For the GOP, be careful of what you wish for.

~McQ

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Taxes Matter and Can Destroy Incentive

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah,
I’m the taxman
Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah,
I’m the taxman

– Beatles, 1966

One of the common laments from fiscal conservatives is that static tax analysis assumes no adjustments by taxpayers to avoid paying at the highest rates. Generally speaking, the higher any activity is taxed, the less of that activity we will get. Even when the activity is just fun and games, such as competing in the Ryder Cup matches in Europe this Fall:

Players competing in the match between Europe and the United States at Celtic Manor, Wales, could be seriously affected by new rules issued by the customs and revenue agency, which can now tax foreign sportsmen and women not just on prize money earned but on sponsorship and endorsements.

Why would that matter? Because the prize money is a pittance compared to what endorsements bring in. Tiger Woods, for example, when he was playing well could win a tournament and take home as much as $1.5 Million in prize money. At the same time, his endorsements earn him in excess of $90 Million per year, which is down from a staggering $128M/yr just two years ago. By comparison, Phil Mickelson, who actually has played well this season, brings in an estimated $61 Million. That’s a lot of money to subject to taxation in the UK just for playing one (albeit prestigious) tournament.

According to the AP article, Usain Bolt (possibly the fastest man alive) and other athletes have already skipped British competitions because of the imposing tax rules, much like how the British Invaders of the 1960’s started spending more and more time in the Carribean, Monaco, and even New Jersey in order to avoid punitive tax rates. Because, in the end, incentives matter, and taxes can create a huge incentive to forgo certain activity.

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We should pay less attention to "results" produced by computer models

That’s the basic message our friend Warren Meyers (of Coyote Blog and now Forbes) makes in an article. His points are not only good, but valid. And if one thinks about how inaccurate the models we’ve seen drive debate and spending are, we’d insist on better data before those decisions are made.

Meyer points out that there are few, if any CEOs in non-financial firms who would invest  a penny based solely on computer models. Yet we have this propensity to place much more confidence in models that have done nothing to earn that confidence than they deserve.

For instance:

Last week the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) released its congressionally commissioned study on the effects of the 2009 stimulus. The panel concluded that the stimulus had created as many as 3.6 million jobs, an odd result given the economy as a whole actually lost something like 1.5 million jobs in the same period. To reach its conclusions, the panel ran a series of complex macroeconomic models to estimate economic growth assuming the stimulus had not been passed. Their results showed employment falling by over 5 million jobs in this hypothetical scenario, an eyebrow-raising result that is impossible to verify with actual observations.

Not only is it impossible to verify, it was issued as a defacto “truth” and the “stimulus” was declared a “success”.  And don’t forget the inclusion, now, of one of the world’s best weasle words to pad the results – jobs “saved”.  However the administration goes to great lengths to ignore its previous claim that if the “stimulus” was passed, unemployment wouldn’t rise above 8%. One has to guess, given the results, that the computer model was wrong about that.

Meyer goes on to point out how the modeling which can’t predict the complex world of economics, is somehow considered the “gold-standard” of predictability when it comes to the exponentially more complex climate.  So much so that governments everywhere are basing trillions of dollars of taxes (cap-and-trade) on the results of such models in an supposed effort to “save the planet”.

While we have been bombarded with hockey sticks and forlorn polar bears, our focus in climate should really be on the computer models. The primary scientific case for man-made CO2 as the main driver of global temperatures is made in exactly the same way that the stimulus was determined to have created 3.6 million jobs: computer modeling. No one yet has been clever enough to structure a controlled experiment to isolate the effect of rising CO2 levels from other changing variables in the complex global climate. So, just like the CEA did in scoring the stimulus, climate scientists use computer models to run virtual experiments, running the models backward over the last century with varying assumptions for CO2 levels.

This modeling approach yields amazingly circular logic. Like macroeconomic models built by devoted Keynesians, climate models are constructed by academics who passionately believe that a single variable, CO2 concentration, is the dominant driver of the whole complex climate system. When run retrospectively, the models they create unsurprisingly give the result that past temperature increases are mainly attributable to CO2. The problem with these models is that when run forward, as in the case of the Washington Redskins election model, they do a terrible job of predicting the future. None of them, for example, predicted the flattening of global temperatures over the last decade.

Yet policy has been proposed and written based on results that are nonverifiable and questionable at best.  That’s insanity.  But the purported case for using the results is if we wait for real data it may be too late.  But when the real data appears (such as the flattening of global temps for this past decade) the modelers and proponents of the government action want to ignore it and deny its importance.

This all goes back to two themes I’ve been hammering for quite some time – common sense and scientific skepticism.  Both are necessary tools of a rational person.  And Meyers nails the point:

Our common sense about government stimulus tells us that the government is highly unlikely to invest money more productively than the private entities from whom the government took the money. Unfortunately, we have allowed this common sense to be trumped by computer models. Once our imperfect understanding the economy was laundered through computer models and presented with two-decimal precision, smart people somehow lost their skepticism.

We are now facing what is potentially an even more expensive decision: to regulate CO2 based mainly on computer models that claim to be able to separate the effects of trace concentrations of CO2 from a hundred other major climate variables. If your common sense is whispering to you that this seems crazy, listen to it. Otherwise all we get is garbage in, money out.

The “garbage in” should be obvious. Unfortunately, the “money out” is money coming out of your wallet to pay for unproven science and unfounded economic models. 

~McQ

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Dale’s Observations For 2010-08-09

Russian man dies in searing heat at sauna contest. There's a world championship of…sauna? http://usat.me?39617852 #

Castiglioni completes his rape of Harley-Davidson. http://bit.ly/98Xnd0 #

DNC Chair Tim Kaine is complaining that Michelle Obama's Spanish trip is being politicized. Cry me a river, Weepy. http://bit.ly/98h5Iw #

Mike Pence admits Republicans have "credibility problem" on deficits. http://bit.ly/b792e6 #

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Did he really say that?

Does everything have to be about race today?

Juan Williams, who I have always thought was a somewhat sane liberal, had this to say about the Missouri vote on health care while speaking with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday":

WILLIAMS: Look, I think this is, and as far as the Missouri vote, you get 70 percent inside an echo chamber of older white people, no not in St. Louis not in Kansas City, saying, "Oh yeah, we don’t like a requirement that everybody has to have healthcare even though the hospitals in Missouri say it’s gonna drive up our costs, everyone is just going to run to the emergency rooms when they have their accidents."

Sort of stunning isn’t it?

Well, because a bunch of old white folks in an "echo chamber" decided they didn’t care to be forced into a system they didn’t want, so it really doesn’t mean anything.

He goes on to make it worse:

WALLACE: What happened to respect for democracy?

WILLIAMS: I have tremendous respect for democracy, but as Ted Olson…

WALLACE: The proposition was on the ballot…

WILLIAMS: Yes.

WALLACE: …and 71 percent voted in favor of it.

WILLIAMS: That’s who’s energized. The unions didn’t participate and they didn’t get out there…

WALLACE: Well, that’s their problem, isn’t it?

It is indeed. But using Williams argument, the last presidential election doesn’t mean anything because the side that voted for Obama was "who’s energized" at that time.  But this is the first time I’ve seen “who’s energized” as a basis of dismissing the result.

This is how the left writes you off.  They categorize you, make up nonsensical claims about legitimacy or illegitimacy, try to make it about race or pseudo-rights and then dismiss the result.

That, in a nutshell, is why they’re going to get shellacked in November.  And they haven’t a clue as to “why”.  They think you dumbass white folks, or tea partiers or angry white men or grouchy senior citizens don’t know what you’re talking about.  So you turn out, after being duped in the “echo chamber” and go through your preprogrammed vote. Thus they, and their vote, are irrelevant.

It is an amazing bit of self-delusion, but there you have a perfect example found in the words of Juan Williams.

~McQ

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The Economy In An Anecdote

I think this entire article entitled “Why I’m Not Hiring” could qualify as the QOTD. It neatly explains why businesses are so reluctant to hire anyone right now.

Meet Sally (not her real name; details changed to preserve privacy). Sally is a terrific employee, and she happens to be the median person in terms of base pay among the 83 people at my little company in New Jersey, where we provide audio systems for use in educational, commercial and industrial settings. She’s been with us for over 15 years. She’s a high school graduate with some specialized training. She makes $59,000 a year—on paper. In reality, she makes only $44,000 a year because $15,000 is taken from her thanks to various deductions and taxes, all of which form the steep, sad slope between gross and net pay.

[…]

Employing Sally costs plenty too. My company has to write checks for $74,000 so Sally can receive her nominal $59,000 in base pay … When you add it all up, it costs $74,000 to put $44,000 in Sally’s pocket and to give her $12,000 in benefits. Bottom line: Governments impose a 33% surtax on Sally’s job each year.

There is no grand revelation in Mr. Fleischer’s explanatory essay. Just hard cold reality: make the costs of hiring more expensive, and less hiring will happen.

Some may argue that just because Mr. Fleischer’s company isn’t hiring for these reasons, that doesn’t mean that other companies are refraining on the same basis. True, but what are the other possible reasons then? Logan Penza summarizes some of the arguments:

It’s those Evil, Greedy Corporations.

That’s the simple explanation most of the talking heads have for the continuing high unemployment numbers. Those Evil, Greedy Corporations horde their money and refuse to hire anyone. When they do hire someone, they don’t pay them enough, don’t offer them enough benefits, don’t pay enough taxes, pollute the planet, steal candy from babies, kick puppies, and make obscene gestures at your auntie. Evil, Greedy Corporations are offered up as cartoon villains, detestable and vile and without any redeeming value.

The trouble with cartoon villains is that they are fictional.

Well, yeah, but it’s so much easier to blame fictional bogeymen then to address what the real businesses say.

Another argument I’ve seen advanced is that the marketplace is inherently uncertain, and that businesses who can’t cope with changes in the law are simply unfit to survive. There is a certain laissez-faire appeal to this argument, but ultimately it doesn’t make sense.

The fact of the matter is that the types of market risk that businesses can and do adjust to, aside from increased competition, are changes in demand and supply, natural disasters and war. The more savvy, efficient and customer-sensitive businesses do survive these sorts of uncertainties and ultimately enhance the economy when they do.

In contrast, when the government continually raises the costs of doing business in the first place (or threatens to do so), the only ones who really survive are either the politically connected or the very wealthy (yes, they are often the same thing). That doesn’t have anything to do with building a better mousetrap, as it were, or growing the economy. And it certainly doesn’t do anything to raise everyone’s standard of living. Instead, all it does is reward those closest to the rule-makers, thus creating more competition to be closest to the King rather than satisfying the marketplace. It is exactly the sort of crony-capitalism we claim to detest.

As Mr. Fleischer summarizes:

A life in business is filled with uncertainties, but I can be quite sure that every time I hire someone my obligations to the government go up. From where I sit, the government’s message is unmistakable: Creating a new job carries a punishing price.

Perhaps instead of punishing business, the government could get out of the way. Maybe then we could get some of that job growth we’ve all been looking for. Unfortunately, it seems that few in Washington are listening, or worse, that they don’t really care.

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