Government Spending

Obama's Jobs Program: If the Choice is Between "Go Big or Go Home," Start Packing Now.

Rhetoric, reality, and the Great Recession

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Months into the new normal that is routinely called the worst economy since the Great Depression, President Barack Obama gets it. It's all about jobs, jobs, jobs. And not like it was back in January 2009 (when he promised 3.5 million jobs over the next couple of years) or December 2009 (when he pushed for clean-energy jobs) or January 2010 (when he announced that jobs would be his "number one focus" in his State of the Union address) or even September 2010 (when he promised employment via road-building projects that weren't undertaken as part of the 2009 stimulus' stated emphasis on shovel-ready infrastructure projects). This time he means it.

Of course he does. After all, this time, it's not just about the economic vitality of the nation. His political future rests upon a jobs program so urgently needed that he's going to announce it mere days after Labor Day weekend. Nothing focuses the mind so much as worries about losing your own job.

While Republicans pray that he'll go for broke and then go home in 2012, progressives everywhere are urging the president to "go big" or "go long." In the Christian Science Monitor, former Joe Biden and White House adviser Jared Bernstein, now with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says Obama should keep on doing what he's been doing—that is, extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits, increase the number of mortgage refinances—and do "some kind of on-the-job training for the long-term unemployed." Inspiring? Not quite. Game-changing? Not at all. And not just for Obama's future, but for the employment prospects of the 9 percent of jobless Americans.

Democratic partisans such as The New Republic's Jonathan Chait acknowledge that Stimulus II: This Time It's Effective, has no "chance at enactment" due mostly to the popular view that the first one didn't work. Instead, says Chait, "Obama can try to design a strategy to exact a political toll for Republican obstruction, but he can't design a strategy to result in passing any significant new stimulus." The payroll tax cut and "some infrastructure projects" are popular with voters and unpopular with Republican legislators, counsels Chait. Try to pass them and then blame the GOP for blocking them. If Obama hangs on to win a second term (a distinct possibility, given the GOP field), goes this line of thinking, then the president can push his advantage come 2013.

[Article continues below video]

[Reason.tv's Editor in Chief discusses the limits of government-led job creation on Fox Business' Freedom Watch. Air date: September 1, 2011.]

This much seems certain: Transportation will be a big part of whatever Obama proposes. Infrastructure is the new plastics. Earlier this year, Obama said he wanted to spend $556 billion on transportation, while the House and Senate are looking to split the difference between proposals to cough up $235 billion and $109 billion. Screw all those shovel-ready projects that were supposed to benefit from 2009 stimulus. "The president will discuss the importance of moving forward…to protect nearly a million American jobs and highlight the opportunity we have to work in a bipartisan way to further invest in rebuilding our nation's infrastructure to strengthen our economy and create new jobs across the country," the White House said in a news release about his current thinking.

Needless to say, this sort of thing didn't work in the past to restart the economy or to seriously reduce unemployment when $800 billion was okayed for stimulating the economy back in 2009. A new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University suggests some reasons why. Authors Garrett Jones and Daniel M. Rothschild surveyed 1,300 managers and workers at firms receiving money via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the official name of Obama's stimulus) and found that firms hired more people who already had jobs (47 percent) than people who were unemployed when they were hired (42 percent). The Mercatus study, touted as "the first of its kind" in surveying the effects of how such funds are actually used by employers, has its limitations for sure. But it drives home a disheartening reality about government's role in the economy: There's no on-off switch that Obama or anybody else can flip in the right direction.

The starting point of any serious discussion about jobs, jobs, jobs should be the brutal fact that government, regardless of who is running it, cannot create positions apart from public-sector jobs. And those in most cases are zombie jobs that can only survive on infusions of fresh cash taken elsewhere from the economy via taxes. That's why state and local payrolls are being cut as federal stimulus dollars dry up.

Which isn't to say that government can't help foster an environment that makes it easier for self-sustaining jobs to be created. Indeed, that's the one thing government can and should do: Create a reliable and stable fiscal and regulatory framework that businessess can rely on. What might go into creating such an atmosphere? Precisely the sort of things that Obama and congressional leaders, Democrats and Republicans, have ignored over the past several years in the rush to embrace all manner of bailout economics. What's needed is a sense of stability to the general fiscal landscape that might help to contain the "known unknowns," such as federal spending levels, debt creation, market interventions, and tax rates.

From a political perspective, it was probably smart of Obama to push for a debt-ceiling increase that should take us past the 2012 election; that's one less moving piece he'll have to deal with while trying to climb up from dismal approval ratings. From a fiscal point of view and for the good of the economy, it would have been even smarter for either the president or his Republican counterparts in Congress to insist on passing a budget for fiscal year 2012, which begins in a month, or at the very least create the conditions for a continuing resolution that signal what's in store over the next 12 months.

As UCLA economist Lee Ohanian puts it, "Uncertainty is the enemy of job creation." Ohanian and his colleague Harold L. Cole argue that private-sector job growth in the Great Recession is weak for the same reason that it was during the Great Depression. In emulating the sort of "bold, persistent experimentation" that Franklin Roosevelt pursued in the 1930s, Obama (who has used FDR's signature phrase) is making the job market tougher. All we've got—and all we've had for way too long—is uncertainty. Market uncertainty is beyond politcians' control. But political certainty? That's their job.

(Article continues below video.)

In the sunniest of circumstances, it's tough to know when to hire more people, even for employers in growing sectors. But apart from all the problems stemming from basic economic factors, the Obama adminstration has done nothing but add storm clouds to the forecast: How will health-care reform play out in terms of dollars and cents for workers and employers? Will the housing market be allowed to reset at levels clearly lower than what the government is willing to accept? Are taxes going up and if so, when and by how much and for whom?

Obama has never been shy about claiming to be the only adult in the room, the harried parent trying to force his child-like colleagues to eat their peas, rip off Band-Aids in one clean tug, and all that. If he's serious about being serious, he ought to give a speech that is long on the reality sketched above and short on the clever rhetoric and the Hail Mary job-creation passes. And he might think about layering in the following points. Odds are that he—and the Republicans too—won't come anywhere close to doing the following:

1. Forget targeting particular industrial sectors such as "infrastructure" or "green" jobs or the house construction industry by lobbing money and arcane tax incentives their way. These have been tried before and didn't work for a variety of reasons. When it comes ruinous targeted spending, the second or third time won't be the charm. He needs to suspend regulatory schemes that add nothing of value but are throttling burgeoning fields such as oil and natural gas development. Does it make sense for his Department of Justice to be meddling in mergers such as the one between AT&T and T-Mobile? Or the National Labor Relations Board on the ability of companies to build plants where they want to? Not in the best of times and certainly not now. If Davis-Bacon rules requiring "prevailing wages" in "green industries" are retarding hiring, suspend them at the very least. If "Buy American" provisions in stimulus funds got in the way of hiring, don't replicate them. Doing the same thing is unlikely to yield different results.

2. Bring the extension of unemployment benefits to a close. Every economist—including new White House advisor Alan Krueger—will tell you that extending benefits delays when people re-enter the workforce. Delaying a return to employment—even at lower pay—compounds a widely observed problem: Long spells of unemployment typically reduce future earnings beyond the actual jobless period. It's not anything anybody hunting for a job wants to hear (and certainly it's not what any politician pushing a jobs program wants to say) but any job beats no job. There are jobs out there. They are not as good as the ones people had before, but nobody's prospects get better waiting two or three years to go back to work.

Given that we're entering the thick of the presidential campaign season, there's a real sense that politics will be in a holding pattern. GOP presidential candidates such as former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have released jobs programs that take comprehensive looks at how to fix the economy. Apart from any of their particulars, such plans are not near-term fixes and not simply because the people proposing them don't already occupy the White House. There are no short-term, rock-solid fixes. There's only a long, slow slog ahead that may well be about government doing less rather than frenetically doing more. That's a course of action which will require the sort of leadership that has been long absent in Washington.

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv and the co-author with Matt Welch of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America.

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  1. Deregulate, cut spending dramatically and get present and future spending under control, cut taxes.

    1. …and give everybody free healthcare.

      1. And don’t give everyone free healthcare.

        1. In fact, give no one free healthcare. And take back the free healthcare from those who already got some. Do it with a baseball bat.

          1. Judging by what happened in England and Greece…and what happened in Wisconsin…you probably WILL need a baseball bat to cut anyone’s handouts.

            1. Use Aluminum or Composite bats to they don’t break as often. We should make sure we get the maximum bat-to-broken-head ratio.
              Now that is what I call STIMULUS!

      2. Re: Tim,

        …and give everybody free healthcare.

        Reminds me of the joke about the fat chick ordering a super triple whopper with cheese, bacon, large fries and a Diet Coke.

        1. This what I always order!

        2. Reminds me of the mom joke:
          Your mom is so fat she comes from both sides of the family!

      3. and Robert’s your father’s brother.

      4. Free popcorn for everyone….here try some of mine!

        1. This butter tastes funny.

          1. Well… I like it!

      5. How about we split the difference and give you free contraception?

      6. “…and give everybody free healthcare.” Free? The only things that are free are the air we breath (until they figure out how to tax it) and both of the braincells running around in your empty head!

        1. For all practical purposes, they already tax the air we breathe, or, at least, the space around us. NYC, for example, taxes high rent tenants who occupy space for commercial purposes and any occupant (including vending machines) using or possessing any space for gainful purpose. These taxes are above and beyond all the normal taxes imposed on commercial enterprises and are predicated on the mere occupation of space. They used to tax everybody who occupied living or working space in the city, but I believe that’s long been discontinued. And of course, people who occupy hotel space get dunned everywhere.

      7. … and everybody gets a pony!

    2. Where do the jobs come in?

      1. Please don’t feed the sockpuppet. Please. Pretty please? Pretty please, with sugar on top?

          1. yes you will….

          2. You can’t stop!

        1. Ignore the rash and it will go away. Scratching it just makes it worse.

          1. Yeah but it feels good when you’re scratching.

        2. Pretty please, with sugar on top?

          Now, you know you can’t make that offer.

          1. No sugar for me means more sugar for you.

        3. Hey, it’s Thursday.

      2. when will those wealthy [JOBZ] creators will create [JOBZ] ?

        1. Re: Double Asshole,

          when will those wealthy [JOBZ] creators will [sic] create [JOBZ] ?

          When will those illiterate bastards learn some basic grammar?

          Oh, and clean up those stains you left in your mother’s basement carpet. Mommy is going to be very angry at you, young man!

        2. when will those wealthy [JOBZ] creators will [sic] create [JOBZ] ?

          Misspelled burblings in the manner of The Washout Formerly Known As Prince are so ’80s.

  2. Here it comes… more Keynesian bullshit from our Dear Leader, in just a few days on national television.

    Gosh, I already feel bad I’m going to not watch it.

  3. Indeed, that’s the one thing government can and should do: Create a reliable and stable fiscal and regulatory framework that businessess can rely on. What might go into creating such an atmosphere?

    Not if you view the government as a vehicle for handing out graft and political favors it isn’t.

    1. So no Republicans then.

      1. Hey everyone, how about those Lakers?

      2. When are you going to realize this is not a Team Red site, you shithead?

        1. *cough* THURSDAY DUDE *cough*

      3. Yeah, cause Team Blue’s hands are completely clean of any kind of crony capitalism, graft, or political favory.

        Would you be interested in these magic beans I have for sale? They are only 299.99 each.

        1. Didn’t claim that. Republicans are just worse. In fact, having appropriated libertarian rhetoric, they exist to serve corporate interests, and are trying to convince us that it’s good for us.

          1. but [CORPORATIONZ] are people too

            1. What I love about this whole shtick is you all refuse to acknowledge that The New York Times and MSNBC are fucking corporations too.

              1. Fucking” being an adjective – that was for the grammatically-impaired Double Asshole and the sockpuppet.

              2. Even universities are corporations.

          2. Didn’t claim that.

            But always imply it.

            Republicans are just worse.

            Please spare the board your partisan hackery….nobody here is buying.

            In fact, having appropriated libertarian rhetoric, they exist to serve corporate interests.

            Point awarded! When is your president planning on reigning in the banks instead of, in collusion with the Fed, shoveling more taxpayer largesse into their open maws? Just askin….?

            and are trying to convince us that it’s good for us.

            Pelosicare, Cap and Steal, Solyndra….really do you ever get tired of embarrassing yourself?

            1. No, because he likes being hit. To him, abuse from a Team BLUE led government is like really, really rough sex. It’s “good” pain.

              1. I guess he’s a real thrillseeker….he never told anyone here his “safe word”.

                1. he never told anyone here his “safe word”.

                  Eventually we just exhaust ourselves…

          3. from the ’08 election. Dems got more corporate money the ‘pubs.
            http://www.opensecrets.org/new…..e-par.html

            which makes sense since it was a big Dem year. I’m sure your overlords were happily turning away the free money eh?

            1. This is always conveniently overlooked.

            2. Those were the good corporations.

              1. Yeah…especially all of those financial companies that caused the financial crisis and then got all of the government bailout money.

  4. The biggest problem is economic and regulatory uncertainty. And there’s no reason to believe that this administration has any desire to do anything but create more and more such uncertainty. It’s all but their stated goal.

    1. Sure. A prolonged recession means that they’re more likely to get support when they propose more radical measures. The various bailouts, stimuli, etc. are proof that that can work. Their hope is that the GOP, when it takes over the government, will continue business as usual, ushering in a new age of even more government control and interference.

    2. The biggest problem is economic and regulatory uncertainty.

      Evidence? Sounds like a corporate cocksucking talking point to me.

      Republican/libertarian jobs plan: give corporate lobbyists everything on their wishlist, then claim it will create jobs. Blame Democrats when it fails.

      1. “This was an unexpected outcome and is most unfortunate,” Solyndra chief executive Brian Harrison said in a statement. “Regulatory and policy uncertainties” made it impossible to raise capital to quickly rescue the operation, he said.

        I guess he is just a corporate cock sucker.

        1. No he’d be the corporate cock that you’re sucking.

          Businesses succeed or fail in the environment they find themselves in. If they can’t succeed, tough. That’s YOUR philosophy, by the way.

          The problem is a lack of consumer demand.

          1. The problem is a lack of consumer demand.

            No, this is the problem:

            Government spending (Federal only), adjusted for inflation–

            1960:
            –Total spending: $761 billion
            –Per capita spending: $4,140.00
            –Per capita share of debt: $12,365

            2010:
            –Total spending: $3.8 trillion
            –Per capita spending: $11,194
            –Per capita share of debt: $43,818

            1. Herbert Hoover called…he wants his ideas back.

              1. Herbert Hoover called…he wants his ideas back.

                Your history teacher called…he wants the time he wasted on you back.

                1. Regardless Hoover lover, your professed approach is still destructive and anti market.

                  1. Regardless Hoover lover, your professed approach is still destructive and anti market.

                    Shorter Danny: “MONEY COMES FROM ELVES AND WORMHOLES!”

              2. Government spending under Hoover (1929-1932?)

                1928 $2.96 billion,
                1929 $3.13 billion, an increase of 5.6%
                1930 $3.32 billion, an increase of 6.2%
                1931 $3.58 billion, an increase of 7.7%
                1932 $4.66 billion, an increase of 30.2%

                Look at those massive cuts!

                1. Oh, this is fun:

                  Federal spending, 1940 (adjusted for inflation)–

                  –Total Spending: $161.3 billion.
                  –Per capita spending: $1,226.00
                  –Per capita share of debt: $6,190.00

                  FDR spent to the moon (and was even cranking up the war machine) and still ran the government for about 10% per capita of what it costs today on an inflation-adjusted basis–and that doesn’t even include state and local spending.

                  Facts ain’t so cool when they fuck you, are they?

                  1. In March 2010, Reason Magazine, the Bible of Lotomytarians everywhere, published a piece on Hoover’s obsession with balancing the budget during a recession. It was meant as an object lesson for arguing lower taxes, as Hoover, unlike the current administration, which has lowered taxes, managed to get Congress to pass an increase in hte teeth of a recession. What Hoover shared with Lobotomizedtarians of today, was a breathtakingly stupid belief that balanced budgets in a time of economic crisis would drive growth. It did – it drove the largest negative GDP decline in this nation’s history…a growing cancer that nearly felled the nation. Now flat earthers in this echo chamber seek to replicate the “success” of that ideology in order to further destroy America’s economy. This might be an amusing philisophical discussion were it not this very ideology that led to the downgrading of America’s debt, a screeching halt to hiring and the likelihood of another recession. It’s amusing to listin to you wax philosophic here in the salons of the ignorant elite. Sadly, as your philosophy affects policy, the 95 percent of honest Americans who live just to the left of nutland are left to pay the price. Your arguments are pathetic, your lack of understanding of history sad and your obsession with wrecking the economy…hard to understand. Facts ain’t so cool when someone points out how your argument is bad for America, are they? Now get back to toadying to the Republican Party – because all today’s Libertardians are, is the election engine for Team Red.

          2. Thats our philosophy providing that there aren’t external conditions (overbearing government) that strangle what would be otherwise healthy company.

            Companies failing because they made poor decision, good.

            Companies failing because of overburdeoning regulations and government meddling, bad.

            It isn’t a ard paradigm to follow.

            1. Who says they’re being overburdened? The companies themselves, of course, and their agents on capitol hill. But these are the same demands they’d have in good times. They want more profit, and any regulation that gets in the way of that, they want rid of. That’s not hard logic to follow. But it ignores any consideration about joblessness. It’s a conflation of two separate issues. Jobs are only a part of the conversation insofar as they’re claiming that giving them everything they want will produce jobs, because they think it will sound better than “just give us everything we want because we say so.”

              1. I work for a small business. We don’t have any fancy connections on the Hill. So fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

              2. We’re not saying, “give them everything they want.”. We are saying stop taking from them and giving to them at the same time, while skimming off the top and granting set asides for our particular pets or donors.

                Basically, we are saying leave them, and the rest of us, the fuck alone.

          3. Corporate Cock Sucking?

            Pre…SENT!

          4. “No he’d be the corporate cock that you’re sucking.”

            No. He WAS Obama’s boy.

      2. And isn’t cock sucker a compliment in your world Tony?

        1. Don’t feed teh sockpuppet. Oh, and keep your distance from his cage, because he tends to fling his droppings at passerbys, like this: “Republican/libertarian [sic] jobs plan.”

          1. My bad. Although it is very entertaining to watch him totally miss the significance of the CEO of Solyndra talking about the effects of regulatory insecurity. Sometimes the stupid is kind of fun.

            1. Sometimes the stupid is kind of fun.

              That’s what I’m saying. Tony is so much more entertaining that Fake Tony because you can tell that Tony means it.

      3. Evidence? Sounds like a corporate cocksucking talking point to me.

        Start doing some basic math and maybe you’ll have some credibility.

        1. Basic math proves that the only way to create jobs is to give corporate lobbyists everything they want, in good times and bad?

          1. *shakes cage*

            *flings poo*

            LISTEN TO ME!!!

          2. If the regulatory apparatus didn’t exist, those corporate lobbyists you vilify wouldn’t even be there in the first place.

            1. If corporations ruled, they wouldn’t need lobbyists. Yes, that’s right.

              1. See??? It’s entertaining!

              2. The troll must be extra-hungry today to make this leap. Where the hell did I say that the only alternative to an unwieldy regulatory apparatus is a Corporatocracy?

                You are either seriously trollin’ or you’re deep in the throes of early onset dementia. If that’s the case, then….haha!

                1. Who says its unwieldy? You and corporate lobbyists.

                  Regulations should be more or less divorced from particular firms’ profit interests. If you can’t succeed in the market without poisoning people, too bad for you. That’s perfectly good capitalism.

                  The regulatory environment does not affect the employment picture as much as supply and demand does.

                  And I’ll not hold my breath waiting for a single libertarian to be in favor of a single policy that’s counter to the wishlist submitted from K Street.

                  1. End all corporate welfare. Now fuck off and die.

                  2. “I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.”
                    –Barack Obama
                    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/po…..ss-burden/

                2. You are either seriously trollin’ or you’re deep in the throes of early onset dementia.

                  ::whiny voice::

                  “Can’t we have both…?”

              3. You know how corporations rule tony? By tricking guys like you in supporting government action that is ostenstibly to help the common man, but in reality does little more than create barriers to entry for those who don’t have the connections or deep pockets to compete.

                Turn around Tony, that pincing in your anus is you being doubled downed on by big government and big business.

                1. PWNED!

                2. Can I borrow that when I’m debating my liberal friends on facebook?

                3. Well said,
                  Quoting this

          3. Basic math proves that the only way to create jobs is to give government workers everything they want, in good times and bad?

      4. “give corporate lobbyists everything on their wishlist, ” thats right and their wishlist is more regulation that hurts the competition but gives them a waiver.

      5. Here is your evidence, dickface.

        The only solution to the problem the government can provide is to GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY.

  5. Transportation will be a big part of whatever Obama proposes. Infrastructure is the new plastics.

    Yes, infrastructure: The Holy Grail of the economics-illiterate demagogue. Let’s just throw money at more tarmac and mortar projects one can think of because that will create JOBZ.

    1. Don’t forget that giving people 99 weeks of unemployment = more jobs.

      1. 😀

        Yes, the Nancy Pelosi Theory Of Aggregate Demand – let’s just pay people not to work and voila: More JOBZ!

        1. Your alternative? Pay people to be rich, and they might deign to hire another housekeeper, if they feel like it. Presto, full employment.

          1. Fuck off, you ignoramus. Even if I explained to you, you would still ignore it like the sockpuppet you are.

          2. It is difficult to figure out if this is the real Tony or not.

          3. Tony, do you see all rich people as Scrooge McDuck? Swimming in vaults full of gold coins and never using a doubloon? That’s not what rich people do.

            1. Do you see them as poor pitiful victims of taxation and regulation? Because that’s not what they are either.

              1. It is scientifically verifiable fact that all rich people look exactly like that top-hatted, moustachioed guy on the “Community Chest” cards in Monopoly. Google it!

              2. No, they are often the crony bastards that push for the regulations you so cherish. Of course that really doesn’t excuse theft and screwing over other businesses and successful people.

                Cognitive dissonance at it’s finest, I suggest you donate your brain for research purposes.

                1. Oh, please stop feeding the sockpuppet! There are flinged droppings all over this site!

                  Sheesh! Seems like you guys are the ones needing the fence and not the sockpuppet.

                2. Cognitive dissonance, like believing that corporate lobbyists are all working for getting rid of the exact regulations you claim they want. That’s some sophist-o-cated reverse psychology there.

                  1. Speaking of cognitive dissonance…

                    Government spending (Federal only), adjusted for inflation–

                    1960:
                    –Total spending: $761 billion
                    –Per capita spending: $4,140.00
                    –Per capita share of debt: $12,365

                    2010:
                    –Total spending: $3.8 trillion
                    –Per capita spending: $11,194
                    –Per capita share of debt: $43,818

                    Tony: “Clearly the problem is we aren’t spending enough!!!”

                    1. People are aging, and Republicans keep starting failed wars. What do you want from me? It’s arbitrarily too much! Let’s just tear it all down.

                    2. Interesting – this post makes no more sense and contributes nothing to solving growth problems here on the thread anymore than it did when it was posted above.

          4. “Pay people to be rich” = “we’re not taxing the fuckers at 90 cents on the dollar”

  6. Please Obama, no more. I don’t think I can survive any more “help.”

    1. “STOP RESISTING!!!”

      1. That’s what I keep saying… but (*sigh*) Cub Scouts: they never, ever listen, do they…?

  7. Obama is an adult? Since when? Adults understand that they can’t have everything they want all at once, and thus have to set priorities on spending. Lower priority items happen later, or not at all.

    1. I’d say given his love of whitehouse concerts and galf and pickup basketball. he’s really more of an adolescent than an adult.

      Think about it. There is a jobs problem and his response to it is to tell congress it has to be addressed as soon as…his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard has ended.

      Affirmative. Action. President.

      1. I wish he would take a vacation for the rest of his term.

        1. I would pay for it.

  8. As UCLA economist Lee Ohanian puts it, “Uncertainty is the enemy of job creation.”

    Well, with all due respect for the UCLA economist Lee Ohanian, but the certainty that the government will steal from you and hinder you is quite a factor as well for creating jobs SOMEWHERE ELSE.

    IKEA may be a Swedish company, but IKEA certainly does NOT manufacture almost any of their stuff in Sweden. It mostly comes from Mexico, China and Vietnam. Just because the government decides not to rock the boat does not mean the boat is already too far low near the waterline not to decide to abandon it.

    1. Sorry, rephrase time:

      “Just because the government decides not to rock the boat does not change the fact the boat is already too far low near the waterline not to decide to abandon it.”

      There. Sorry.

      1. I still can’t tell if it’s better or worse in the rewrite.

        1. I think the original was better. Try this: Just because the government does not rock the boat, it has still taken on enough water and should be abandoned.

      2. My god but that was a tortured sentence!

      3. Thwickk!

  9. We can make our way back to prosperity if we only spend harder, dammit!

    1. Government spending (Federal only), adjusted for inflation–

      1960:
      –Total spending: $761 billion
      –Per capita spending: $4,140.00
      –Per capita share of debt: $12,365

      2010:
      –Total spending: $3.8 trillion
      –Per capita spending: $11,194
      –Per capita share of debt: $43,818

      Tony: “Clearly the problem is we aren’t spending enough!!!”

  10. Uncertainty is definitely a factor, in that overall “moods” can affect whether markets go up or down. But that isn’t about just employers being uncertain about regulations, it’s about consumers and employers being uncertain about the state of the economy.

    In short, markets aren’t rational. Thanks for admitting it, though you’re only focusing on one element.

    1. *shakes cage*

      *flings poo*

      LISTEN TO ME!!!

    2. Were only focusing on the one element that the government has 100% control over. Which is what the article is about, dickface.

      1. Just not the element that has anything to do with employment levels…

        1. Ask the President of Solyndra. According to him, the uncertainty in regulation effected their employment levels. Matter of fact, it took them from 1100 people to 0 people some time last night.

    3. Then there is the problem of many industries being subsidised by government that are not reflecting their true value. The problem of being forced to hire people to satisfy government quotas. Paying people for doing nothing, with standards of living higher than most workers in the world.

      These all add up to the cost of doing business, any business who outsources his company is not to blame under such conditions.

      1. Businesses shouldn’t be morally condemned for doing whatever they are legally allowed to do to maximize profits. That’s their job.

        But if the market alone cannot reduce unemployment, government is the only recourse available. You can’t seriously claim that 10% unemployment is totally the result of regulatory uncertainty, or whatever other excuse supply-siders are giving.

        People aren’t spending enough because they aren’t employed enough, and they aren’t employed enough because they aren’t spending enough. How does the market get itself out of this trap? Easing pollution controls? Give me a break.

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          […] government is the only recourse […]

          […] government is the only recourse […]

          AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh… ::reaches for Kleenex::

          1. “Sometimes, there’s a little splashback… and I can actually taste ME!”

        2. “You can’t seriously claim that 10% unemployment is totally the result of regulatory uncertainty, or whatever other excuse supply-siders are giving.”

          I believe they call that 10% full employment in France,Germany, and Britain… during a healthy period! So explain to me how greater government managment of an economy = jobs and prosperity for all.

          1. If government had been more involved in regulating the derivatives market, we might have prevented a bubble collapse and the downward spiral in employment that came with it.

            1. but they didn’t. Which kind of pokes the hole in your theory that (more) government is all grand and good.

              There have been more and more regulations added – has the overall economy improved from these regulations? Or just a few big corporations who can handle the burden/lawyers. Please show your math.

              1. Nope, government didn’t succeed in preventing a massive failure of the market.

                It’s not a question of quantity but quality. Maybe there are too many regulations over certain things. It’s clear that some things are too underregulated, like the derivatives market pre-2008.

            2. Yeah….even with laws on the books and the tipoff from Markopolous the SEC was too thinly staffed to investigate Madoff and surf for porn at work. I guess Tony is right…we libertarians really are slave drivers!

              1. Nah, just morons. Illiteritarian market analysis…”boy, I ate a lot if chocolate cake and it made me diabetic. Should I cut back? Nah, I’ll eat more so I can die of a heart attack.” Libertarians may have stupid ideas, but they sure are predictable.

                1. Illiteritarian market analysis…”boy, I ate a lot if chocolate cake and it made me diabetic. Should I cut back? Nah, I’ll eat more so I can die of a heart attack.”

                  The irony of a prog using this analogy is as delicious as the chocolate cake.

                  1. Yes, the irony is delicious. The lobotomyterian would eat the cake, ask for the check and run out without paying, stiffing the restaurant and patting themselves on the back for being a no account scumbag.

          2. Don’t feed the sockpuppet, please. Look at the kind of droppings he is flinging:

            “If government had been more involved in regulating the derivatives market, we might have prevented a bubble collapse”

            The poor bastard conflates two totally different things and then flings them at passerbys. Please, don’t feed him!

            1. I guarantee I’m not the only one annoyed by your message board cop routine.

              1. I don’t give a shit, sockpuppet. I am providing a public service.

                Please, stand back from the cage – that one in there flings.

        3. I can very seriously claim that, there were too many jobs reliant on unsustainable trajectories, some of them being banking, housing and construction, car manufacturing, tourism, education. All to a great degree have had government money pumped into them. You can either support these unviable job creators or you can take the courageous decision (which no politician will) and let the badness in the system be worked away with time. You can try to force everyone to get a job, but you will just have the old USSR problem: “the government pretends to pay us, and we pretend to work”.

          1. Re: NotSure,

            I can very seriously claim that, there were too many jobs reliant on unsustainable trajectories, some of them being banking, housing and construction, car manufacturing, tourism, education.

            This time, mostly construction. Do you have a chance to watch or record a few Judge Judy shows? When she asks the bums being sued for unpaid loans/child support/whatever, most of them worked in the construction business. Many of the unemployed were or had to do with construction. Their unemployment is simply part of the correction. The bubble was happening mainly in the construction business, the reasons having been exposed here and many books: The Fed’s cheap credit policy; Fannie and Freddy underwriting the bad loans; and banks looking for a quick buck through this evil partnership with government.

            The big problem the US faces right now is a government hell bent on financing make-believe jobs in order to look proactive and effective. Unfortunately, the only result from this will be a crowding out effect against the more productive enterprises and individuals, in terms of labor and investment, as more money is funneled to these unproductive Potemkin projects and showpieces. It helps nobody the fact that the government is also giving special treatment to their cronies and supporters, be it Big Business or Big Labor. It’s like the 1930’s all over again…

            In the meantime, we have people like the sockpuppet here parroting the canard that it was (take your pick) the market, eeevil corporashions, greed or glutony or whatever, the cause for the bubble and the meltdown.

            1. No one has ever recorded an episode of Judge Judy.

        4. [You can’t seriously claim that 10% unemployment is totally the result of regulatory uncertainty, or whatever other excuse supply-siders are giving. Obamacare. 2700 pages, many of which are still being written means I won’t play the game until I know the rules. I was born at night, just not last night.

          I can only tell you whay I’m not hiring.[

    4. But that isn’t about just employers being uncertain about regulations…

      Tony scores a valid point. There is far less uncertainty about regulations than business lets on. To wit; They are certain that there is going to be a shitload more every year!! If you you recall the wild west days of the last Bush administration when those bastards cut regulations to the bone by adding on average 75 THOUSAND additional pages of regulations each year he was in office.

      1. Re: Fish,

        Tony scores a valid point. There is far less uncertainty about regulations than business lets on.

        I made the same point above – see https://reason.com/archives/201…..nt_2495821

        The sockpuppet is not saying anything new. He is just implying that regulation is good, business is bad, we should all be good little slaves dressed in Mao suits.

        1. …we should all be good little slaves dressed in Mao suits

          Fortunately that’s a fashion decision that I can work with.

  11. A new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University suggests some reasons why [the Stimulus did not work.] Authors Garrett Jones and Daniel M. Rothschild surveyed 1,300 managers and workers at firms receiving money via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the official name of Obama’s stimulus) and found that firms hired more people who already had jobs (47 percent) than people who were unemployed when they were hired (42 percent).

    And you can bet that those people hired that already had a job were not replaced by their original employers.

    There are a few people that find this counterintuitive and even blame employers for sitting idle over a pile of cash… or something. But this is only evidence for their own ignorance. Employers do not hire people out of a sense of patriotism or for the sake of hiring, they do it because they expect the labor to produce above its cost, at the margin. If the cost of an additional worker is higher than the marginal utility expected from his labor, the employer will not hire, as doing so would become the easy path to the poor house.

    So it doesn’t matter how much money the government decides to throw around; the government can’t bend the laws of economics any more that it could bend the law of gravity.

    1. So you’re saying it’s all about money. How gauche.

  12. Just one word: CANALS.
    Sure, they were last big in 1820, but son, they’re coming back. Lots of jobs for you limp dicked slobs digging canals from LA to Bakersfield, Springfield to Scranton. And the Dept. of Energy is working on some new 21st century High Speed Paddleboats.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

  13. Obama, rock and hard place.
    He’s going to pitch some totally worthless package, which fortunately (thanks, tea-guys) can’t kill us with added taxes, only because he has no choice.
    Any real ‘program’ risks losing the remaining lunatics like the poo-flinger. And with his current numbers, he’d have to go find a job.
    So it’s pitch a load of BS and hope to keep a job, or get honest and go looking; easy to predict.

    1. I’m kind of praying for this. Once the remaining 5 Obama supporters realize what a mediocre joke he’s become on his “jobs” programs, they’ll bail on his ass.

  14. If the SC upheld 1A rights for corporations in Citizens United, would one of the companies denied a federal loan have a case based on the 14A’s Equal Protection Clause?

    Seems to me that handing out government money to only selected companies in an arbitrary manner is a perfect example of denying equal protection. We need somebody to take a case up. Perhaps it will kill all subsidy programs and government loan to cronies.

    1. Or it would encourage the further nationalization of industry. For surely the liberal answer to not being able to fund particular companies is to fund all of them and put them under government control.

  15. To be frank, I wouldn’t trust Obama to collect my trash. I ain’t hiring the fucker when he loses reelection.

  16. There is a quick way. Recall all troops from foreign lands. Cut the income tax and capital gains taxes in half. Reduce the federal government payroll at least in half. Consumer spending will jump and companies will start producing and hiring again. It will never happen because money and firepower are the entrenched bureaucracy’s power base. They won’t fire themselves or get out of the way. Eventually someone will have to do it for them.

  17. Enjoying this “idea” swap her in the Echo Chamber of Idiots. Careful not to fall off the side of the flat earth when you get off your dinosaur tonight. PS, got a riddle for you…What’s a libertarian? That’s easy, a water carrier for the Republican party.

    1. Got a riddle for you too–what’s a progressive? That’s easy, a thief that needs the government to rob from people because they’re too scared to do it themselves.

      1. This is awesome. I just logged onto a chat site where people think it’s 1929. I was on a similar site in 1491, where done of these same people were arguing with Columbus that he was about to sail off the edge of the planet. This isn’t a progressive versus Dumbatarian debate. For dimbatatians, anyone who doesn’t want to wreck the economy and sponge off others is progressive. This is a monologue by Dumbatarians who don’t understand history, economics and civilization and want the other 99 percent of us to suffer.

        1. This is a monologue by Dumbatarians who don’t understand history, economics and civilization and want the other 99 percent of us to suffer.

          Spoken by the same idiot who thought Hoover cut government spending.

          1. Rock Head Squawking comes back strong with defense of Hoover! Yeah, you’re on right side of history.

            1. Rock Head Squawking comes back strong with defense of Hoover! Yeah, you’re on right side of history.

              Criticizing government spending that has grown exponentially and pointing out that Hoover didn’t cut spending is defending Hoover?

              U mad?

              1. So a libertarian, a ponzi scheme artist and a hooker walk into a bar. What does the cop on duty say? Tell that hooker and ponzi artist to get out of here, I’ve got to cuff that libertarian scam artist.

                Anyway, here’s an assignment for you since it took you five posts to say the federal debt has increased in the last 50 years: calculate GDP growth and unemployment over that same period and align with your premise that federal debt drives a weaker economy. Problem for you one-note economic illiterates is that the trend and data don’t support the supposition. You love history in increments of months or comparing one snapshot in time with another. But when apples in long term trends, because it undercuts your poor arguments, you run and hide. I’m no fan of debt, i just finds idiots who don’t want to pay it because their scam artists a drag.

              2. Hey RRR, the moron thinks you are criticizing Hoover for spending too little!

                1. Nah, I’m criticizing “empty head blockhead” because his arguments are inconsistent, stupid and reckless. Not sure what your argument is – thinking more that your just a typical libertarian blockhead. Libertardians – our motto, reck America now. You one note blockheads ate so stunningly dumb it’s comical. Now why don’t the 15 of you here in the echo chamber get back to kissing each others asses about how swell your ideas are

  18. You know transportation projects are great and all, but I don’t know a single person who works in road construction. I do know lots of people who work in commercial construction, residential construction, manufacturing, healthcare, energy, all sorts of industries, but I don’t think a lack of road construction jobs is the big issue we need to address.

    Heck I’d start with not shutting down Gibson guitars for using the same wood they’ve used for years. Or not trying to shut down plants in right to work states. How about coming up with a sound tax policy so I can figure out if I can hire some people next year?

  19. Excellent article! Both Republican and Democrats are guilty of short sightedness in planning and implementation. The Obama administration in particular appears “frenetic” in it’s approach, trying to appear to be doing something about the economy, while completely misunderstanding that the economy will take care of itself if the government develops the environment for investment and growth, rather than trying to be the engine of investment and growth itself.

  20. Just Say No to Communism
    31 August 2011
    Folks,
    There is one (1) good thing that has come out of Obama’s 2.5 years in office.
    During the Obama administration, the people of the United States of America, an historically center-right, God-fearing, pro-market democracy, have been witness to a real-time experiment in almost pure Marxist/communist-style government, complete with central-planning, government edicts and mandates, an exponential increase in government size, regulations, agencies, and rules, avoidance of the will of the people, economic mismanagement, and lots of long speeches.
    This all is a result of “Change We Can Believe”, which change we now know to be mass unemployment, destruction of the currency, massive accumulation of unsustainable Federal debt, all of which results in a US economy which is declining.
    Obama, et al, have made it clear to the American people that Marxism/communism does not work. This is an expensive, but extremely valuable lesson for the average American. This is a lesson that has NOT been taught in the American educational system, which has a bias to the Left. This lesson has been has been taught via the experiment of the Obama administration’s policies, performed in public view, which has made it clear to even the politically unconcerned, average American that Marxism/communism does not work.
    Perhaps we should thank Obama for the lesson?
    Respectfully,
    Tom Johnson
    Largo, FL, USA
    Republican & Tea Party member
    God Bless Reagan
    God Bless America
    opinionscribe.blogspot.com

  21. And not just for Obama’s future, but for the employment prospects of the 9 percent of jobless Americans.

    Shouldn’t that be ‘…for the prospects of those 9 percent of Americans not employed?’ or some such?

    Or is there an extra-special subset of the unemployed (the Super Unemployed) that constitutes 9% of that bedraggled population alone?

  22. It’s clear that Obama’s strategy is to paint Republicans as obstructionists. That’s why he chose the date and time of his speech to conflict with the Republican debate for instance. But he has no plans to actually create jobs. That would conflict with his class warfare strategy.

  23. This has hit the nail on the head!! Good thinking…….

  24. Does anyone really think that the $1.3t debt ceiling bump is going to carry the Administration through the next election? I think there has been some inflation in the price of votes as there has been in other commodities and the bidding is always ongoing. There will be a new debt ceiling crisis before next, um, let’s say Valentine’s Day and I’m thinking Christmas is quite possible as the money shifting strategies employed by Geithner are not frictionless, all revenues are collapsing. Fannie suing the banks for doing what they told them is another titanic drain on the economy, and therefore revenue while all these stupidities engorge the “welfare” roles in their diverse forms. This party has barely started, people.

  25. Every article by conservatives throws in some kind of “Obama might yet win because of the Republican field” jab. We’ve got to lose this inferiority complex about the GOP candidates. Is any of them perfect? No, but every single one would be light years better than the current disaster.

  26. “If Obama hangs on to win a second term (a distinct possibility, given the GOP field)”

    I guess this proves that in Gillespies’ case, just because the rag you write for is named “Reason”, doesn’t mean you have a clue. So allow me to give you one Nick; if the economy is still in the tank and unemployment is around 9%, at election time, Obama is toast. You can take it to the bank.

  27. “The president hopes that members of Congress of both parties, having returned from their August recess, will come back imbued with the spirit of bipartisan compromise, and imbued with the urgency required to address the needs of our economy and the needs of our workforce.” WHAT?

    You mean like Healthcare for a ‘bipartisan compromise” example? In the midst of the worst economic time since the recession? The libtards concentrate on social engineering and re-distribution with the hope of nationalizing 1/6 of the US GNP. NOW, HE WANTS TO CONCENTRATE ON JOBS?

    The idealogue in chief refuses to acknowledge true economic reality. The formation and deployment of private capital is what provides real ‘productive’ (read non-transfer of payments) jobs. His policies (and those redistibutionist accomplices around him) are what is keeping the deployment of capital in semi-idle state….out of fear.

    Why is it without complete control of all three branches of government “bipartisan compromise” is the mantra now???

    I’ve got an idea, how about stop trying to help us and get out of the way….Hope and change is a nice tag line….and an empty suit.

  28. Does Nick ever take that jacket off?

  29. Obama sucks. That’s nothing new.

    But on the subject of unemployment, I wonder how much of this is due not only to the effects of government mismanagement of finances and unjustified intervention in the marketplace, but also to the failure of the government-run public school system?

    Companies are still hiring people with technical skills, if you are barely literate and cannot perform mathematical calculations, then your choices are pretty much… nonexistent. Barely literate people who cannot perform mathematical calculations are a large part of what our public schools turn out every year to the American job market.

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