To Government, Every Penny Is Sacred

New programs mean emptier pockets.

President Obama has new priorities. That means new spending.

In his State of the Union, he said, “The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem.” But then he went on to list how, under his guidance, government will solve a thousand problems, including some (like climate change and a loss of manufacturing jobs) that are probably not even problems.

The president bragged about creating “our first manufacturing innovation institute” in Ohio and says that he will create 15 more. Politicians claim actions like this are needed to solve the “decline of manufacturing” in America. John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Pat Buchanan also fret about this. But what they call “decline” is myth. There is no decline in manufacturing.

The Federal Reserve says that U.S. manufacturing output is up from 2000, and up almost 50 percent from 1990. Yes, manufacturing employment is down because automation and government’s labor rules led companies to automate and produce more with fewer employees, but that’s OK.

Manufacturing jobs are no better than other jobs. Few parents today prefer their children work in factories rather than offices.

When the need for people in one type of industry decreases—say, making wagon wheels—they are freed up to work in other areas. What America needs is a flexible economy that provides new jobs. For years, we had that.

Workers who lost factory jobs found new work in the fast-growing service industry. Creating software, movies and medical innovation is just as valuable as manufacturing and often more comfortable for workers. Anyway, politicians don’t know where new jobs will appear.

“Yet the president wants 15 ‘manufacturing hubs,’ which I guess will be like Solyndra cities,” lamented Deroy Murdock, one of three libertarian reporters who came on my show to react to our president’s plans.

Murdock’s right. Politicians should accept the fact that making things is something the market does pretty well on its own. This month, the Energy Department’s inspector general reports that, three years after being awarded a $150 million federal grant, a taxpayer-backed battery plant in Holland, Mich., has not produced a single battery. At one point, the company’s workers were paid to do nothing.

“Then we have a ‘college scorecard’ that Obama will bring,” said Murdock. “U.S. News & World Report updates which colleges do a good job, but (now) government will do that?”

Then came the president’s call for more spending on preschool.

“I am sympathetic to people wanting to shove their kids out the door,” joked Katherine Mangu-Ward, “but Head Start, our pilot program for universal preschool, has a not-great record. We spend $8 billion to get very, very little in terms of results. ... We suck at education.”

Well, government does.

Michael C. Moynihan was disappointed that President Obama’s speech contained no talk of significant reform of Social Security and Medicare. “Even in this sort of dire circumstance: no change whatsoever.”

Both parties are guilty of avoiding our “dire circumstance,” said Moynihan. “There was a big announcement in 2011—$300, $400 billion in spending would be cut, (but) this was a mirage, there were no spending cuts. … (What) cuts in Washington mean is that you reduce the rate of increase a little.”

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  • Almanian!||

    SOTU speech is bad, mm'kay?

  • Janine W. Chambliss||

    If you think Eva`s story is nice..., three weeks ago my brother's mom in law basically also recieved a check for $7894 grafting a sixteen hour week from there house and their co-worker's step-aunt`s neighbour has done this for 9-months and earned over $7894 parttime at their computer. applie the guidelines here... www.Ace60.com

  • $park¥||

    What difference, at this point, does it make?

  • phandaal||

    What you did there: I see it.

  • DarrenM||

    President Obama has new priorities.

    To the average person, new priorities implies cutting back on former priorities. With Obama, as with many politicians, it means slightly less urgency in throwing more money at them.

  • mtrueman||

    ¨Instead of announcing 15 new “manufacturing” hubs, the president should just announce 300 million “do whatever you want with your own money” hubs. Then American citizens can do as they please.¨

    I´ve thought this was a wonderful idea - a social wage or universal dole that would allow everyone to live in modest comfort without having to seek employment. It would mean that only those who wanted to work would really have to work. Those who didn´t want employment would be free to pursue other past times, whether it´s working on a grand unified theory in physics or just sitting watching TV while enjoying an ale or three.

  • WittyName||

    Or just fly their unicorns around spreading skittles about the countryside making everything all better.

  • mtrueman||

    It´s not up to me to determine how you spend your time or dictate your interests

  • WittyName||

    But it is up to you to determine how much the productive must give to the unproductive?

  • mtrueman||

    Who is to say that those without wage paying jobs will be among the ¨unproductive?¨ Thanks to the comfortable living provided to the English clergy, they were able to pursue other, less ecclesiastical, interests. Thanks to the ¨unproductive¨ tinkering of these men we have the Jack Russell terrier and Bayes´ theorem.

    Americans mustn´t let their puritanical roots stand in the way of a good idea.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Also a huge upsurge in peophilia! Giving the clergy more time to pursue their inclinations isn't a good thing.

  • WittyName||

    But, again, you get to decide for the rest of us? As long as you think its good, surely the rest of us will be happy too, right?

    Your example is a voluntary action, while your proposal is government enforced coercion. Not the same at all.

  • mtrueman||

    ¨Your example is a voluntary action¨

    Looks like someone could benefit from a little bit of study about the Church of England and its role in society. What´s wrong? Too busy chasing wages to educate yourself? I have a solution for that!

  • WittyName||

    Smug and stupid is no way to go through life.

  • JWatts||

    "Thanks to the comfortable living provided to the English clergy, they were able to pursue other, less ecclesiastical, interests."

    They were paid to do a job. Your example has nothing to do with somebody being on the dole.

  • mtrueman||

    ¨They were paid to do a job¨

    You´re not following me. The ¨job¨ they were being paid to do was ministering to the spiritual needs of their congregation, which were as often as not ignored. Their dog breeding and theoretical pursuits were done on their own initiative, and were by any measure productive.

  • JWatts||

    "The ¨job¨ they were being paid to do was ministering to the spiritual needs of their congregation, which were as often as not ignored."

    All you really have is a 'just so' story.

    Do you have any proof that their job was "ignored"? Did their congregation think they weren't doing their job? Did the higher ups at the church think they weren't doing their job?

    If the answer is 'Yes' to all 3 of these you might have a point.

    However, I strongly suspect that if both the congregation and the church hierarchy thought the clerics weren't doing their job they would have fired them.

  • mtrueman||

    ¨any proof that their job was "ignored"?¨

    Are you joking? You give me an idea of what exactly you want me to prove about whom, and I´ll see what I can do. You might find it more satisfactory to consult an expert on the clergy of the 19th century, and not just some guy on the comment board at Reason, or even read yourself a book on the subject. If you feel you need anything from me, I´d be happy to advise. I´ll be frank with you, my spider senses are telling me that you´re not going to like anything I have to say, no matter what I tell you. You haven´t agreed, it seems, with a single thing I´ve written here, and I see nothing in your comments to show me that´s about to change.

    ¨if both the congregation and the church hierarchy thought the clerics weren't doing their job they would have fired them.¨

    Hehe. Look up the word ¨sinecure¨ if you have a moment.

  • ||

    The Christopher Columbus Fellowship spent 80 percent of its money on overhead.

    All govt. is entitled to hand out some sinecure appointments. As it was previously observed on Reason, what good power is if you can't wield it arbitrarily at least some of the time?

  • ||

    Demographics of the nation are changing there will be more of Mexico and less of Europe. Production and construction will never return to its peak, a more humble lifestyle must be accepted. Erotic lifestyles will become more prevalent, sperm is cheap and always available.

  • ||

    Erotic lifestyles will become more prevalent, sperm is cheap and always available.

    That reminds me of the old Q&A:

    What do you say if she gives you head?

    Nice!

    What do you say if she lets you come into her mouth?

    Sweet!

    What do you say if she gargles with it?

    Showoff!

  • grey||

    What does 'a more humble lifestyle must be accepted' mean exactly?

  • jecobjesan||

    my roomate's step-mother makes $70 every hour on the laptop. She has been laid off for 9 months but last month her pay check was $14503 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Here's the site to read more www.WOW92.com

  • Warrior88||

    Connor. if you think Edward`s stori is something, on monday I bought a gorgeous Chrysler after having made $4163 this - five weeks past and just a little over ten grand this past month. it's by-far my favourite-job I have ever had. I began this five months/ago and pretty much straight away was earning minimum $82.. per-hr. I follow the details here, http://WWW.FLY38.COM

  • grey||

    Instead of announcing 15 new “manufacturing” hubs, the president should just announce 300 million “do whatever you want with your own money” hubs. Then American citizens can do as they please. - Stossell

    Well said.

    The media completely ignores the central planning aspect of Manufacturing Hubs. Forget socialism, this skips right over to communism. Who gets to be the winners and losers for the federal money to drive these hubs? I'm sure union enclaves in liberal cities.

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