Saturday, September 3, 2011

Causing Giraffes to Dance

On the eve of President Obama’s much touted Jobs Speech, a few basic observations.

Not that an ant addressing a thunderstorm is likely to be heard—or that any kind of observations, sage or not, will influence anyone in Congress or the White House. Those people need help, not advice. The Madness has them in its thrall. Rather, I say these obvious things just to remind myself that sanity still rules. And others, reading this, might feel mildly better, thinking: Well, at least I’m not alone.

U.S. Presidents are elected to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” The Constitution does not make the President responsible for the economy. It is minimally a sign of growing collective irrationality to assume that rulers are divine and therefore responsible for the weather, be that physical or economic.

The only way to create a job is by hiring somebody. The President can only do so by persuading Congress to vote him the money to hire federal workers. He hasn’t got the votes. He knows that. We know that. So what is this gesturing all about? Another way he could make jobs is by persuading Congress to vote money for the States specifically earmarked to hire state workers. He hasn’t got the votes. Etc.

Giving people money (about $75 per month if they are working and if they are earning at least $45,000 a year)—hoping they will spend it and that that spending will cause others to hire—that’s not “job creation.” And if that money is taken from Social Security, won’t that just increase the deficit? Nor is easing air pollution rules—hoping that companies will have more profits and will spend that profit on new jobs—that’s not “job creation.” Nor is giving businesses further tax cuts—if they hire workers. If they’re not hiring workers now, why would they do so for a tax cut? And wouldn’t yet more tax cuts cause more government layoffs?


If you want to teach giraffes to dance, deploy a lot of people with electrical cattle prods into the zoos of America. Let them teach those giraffes to jump around funny. You won’t succeed by planting low trees next to high trees with foliage giraffes happen to like—hoping that in reaching high and reaching low, the giraffes, as they feed, will perform the kind of squat-jumps you happen to have in mind.

Our policies are like that.

Pic credit is Wikipedia (link).

1 comment:

  1. Too bad the President took ownership of the economy via his advisers and supporters.

    Both David Plouffe (adviser) and Debbie Wassermann Schultz (DNC chair) have said the President owns the economy.

    So his people have hung that millstone around his neck.

    I can also give you several examples of the President either effecting the economy, or choosing not to effect the economy.

    1. Ozone regulation.
    The President had the EPA back off on this regulation. This will help the economy by not requiring the replacement of expensive equipment. Impact: $50 Billion in savings to government (taxpayers) and private companies.

    2. Repetitive Injury Regulations from OSHA.
    Also shelved for now. Impact: Unknown.

    3. Coal power plant regulation
    He is keeping these in place. Older plants will shut down because technology does not exist to reduce the emissions. The statute allows for the President to suspend the ruling, but he has not done so. Expected impact: loss of 10% of generating capacity, driving up rates.

    4. Tar sands pipeline.

    Jobs, at the cost of more energy to refine than other oils.

    All those are in his power to impact. From one of his officials:

    Cass Sunstein, head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said in an interview Saturday that the White House’s approach involved a “careful analysis of costs and benefits, trying to make sure the benefits justify the costs.”

    “We’re committed to protecting public health and welfare, but in a way that’s attuned to the economic situation,” he said.

    To say a President cannot impact the economy is to say he is impotent and irrelevant.

    Neither is the case in my view.