Job growth is stalled, but can politicians fix the problem?

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, Rare Contributor

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The economy is sluggish and job creation is almost non-existent. That means it’s time for politicians and government bureaucrats to control yet even more of our money – right?

If you really believe that government is the entity from whom all blessings flow, and if you really believe that politicians and government bureaucrats do better things with your money than you do, then yes – it’s time for more government control of our economy.

That’s what President Obama was calling for last week in his speech about “income inequality,” the buzz phrase of choice for 2014 among those who believe, as he does, that politicians can and do spend our money better than “ordinary” citizens.  And with the President having established the phrase, its now up to like-minded liberals in the worlds of academia, media, entertainment and government to repeat that phrase incessantly between now and November’s elections.

That’s why it was no surprise to see University of California, Berkley professor and former presidential advisor Robert Reich combine the President’s “income inequality” phrase with the disastrous employment report from December in an editorial that calls for – “shocking!”- more control of our economy by politicians! Mr. Reich won’t be persuaded to rethink his views, but his ideas will be reiterated all year by people who have no alternative ideas of their own, so be prepared to hear both the president’s and Mr. Reich’s rhetoric to be frequently repeated.

Below is a list of some of Mr. Reich’s plan, with accompanying details that he, and other “government knows best” liberals prefer to ignore:

Launch a major jobs program to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure: Mr. Reich is correct, that huge chunks of our nation’s infrastructure are “crumbling.” What he ignores is the fact that President Obama and the previous congress already launched what was promised to be a “major jobs program” to rebuild our infrastructure – it was called the “Economic Stimulus Bill.”

Remember Senator Obama’s promises of “shovel ready jobs” once he took office? That’s what the President’s  stimulus plan, officially known as the “American Recovery and Reinvestment” Act, was supposed to have produced. It began with a price tag of $787 billion and ended up costing about $831 billion (note: only government can get away with miscalculating by $50 billion, not private businesses). Our infrastructure is still crumbling, but current and future generations of Americans are nonetheless saddled with the $831 billion in debt (and that isn’t including the interest).

Rehire all the teachers, social workers, police, and other public service employees who were laid off in the recession: This sounds and “feels” terrific – why wouldn’t everybody want full employment for teachers, cops, and so forth? The real question, however, is this: how badly were federal, state and local government workers actually hurt by the recession, as compared to us lowly people who work in the private sector?

In truth, huge chunks of President Obama’s “stimulus bill” funds were spent either on state and local government workers themselves, or on government programs that provided things for already existing government employees to do. The Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” program for public schools took $4.35 billion out of the stimulus bill fund, and gave employed teachers and school administrators lots of hoops to jump through.  The administration’s “Booty Call” sexually transmitted diseases education program spent another $335 million of the stimulus funds, and gave government social workers lots of important things to do (although one can imagine that this program, in particular, stimulated something other than the economy).

Indeed, state and local government workers, as well as federal employees, have done relatively well since the recession, as compared to the rest of us. Combine this with the fact that most all government employees receive a defined benefit retirement pension that is backed by taxpayers (where do you find retirement like that in the private sector these days?), and a government job looks pretty confortable in light of the frailties of the private sector.

Raise the minimum wage at least to its inflation-adjusted value 40 years ago — which would be well over $10 an hour:  Once again it feels good to propose such an idea, as long as you don’t look at the consequences – and higher wage requirements imposed by governments almost always bring about a decline in business and job growth.

Worse yet, Reich makes no reference in his recent editorial to the actual source of genuine job creation: the local small business owner who is willing to work hard, take risks, and hopefully create genuine authentic wealth over time.  If liberals would listen to what small business America is saying, they might learn about the perils of a lack of small business lending, or the fear instilled in the hearts of business owners by an out of control IRS and EPA and U.S. Department of Justice.

But to acknowledge that government agencies and programs might be a part of our economic problem is incomprehensible to the government-centric liberals among us. Hopefully there are enough Americans who do comprehend this reality, and make better choices in the elections that lie ahead.

Hill arms folded 3

Austin Hill is a radio host, author and small-business owner. Follow him in Twitter @AskAustin

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