A rose by any other name is still a rose, to paraphrase William Shakespeare. Similarly, a bloated tax-and-spend policy is still a bloated tax-and-spend policy even though it is called new and innovative.
The president introduced his American Jobs Act in a speech before a joint session of congress and told them to pass this jobs plan right away. In other words, "Trust me, I know what I'm doing, just pass the bill without reading it. It worked for the Affordable Health Care Act, didn't it?" The rhetoric is the same tired, worn-out words used by this and previous administrations. The theories are the same as those which got us where we are today. The double-speak was in full bloom and the government-as-savior mentality was striking.The act is simply another dose of expensive government programs and bureaucracy to add to the other big spending which is bankrupting this country.
Other than the badgering of Congress to PASS THIS BILL NOW, the most noticeable aspect of the speech is how many times he used the word "we" in different contexts as though they meant the same thing. That word referred to congress, all people of the United States, the government, inventors, business people, and so on. The impression is that we, collectively, do things, build things, and create jobs. The government, as the embodiment of "we," solves our problems. As the economics department of George Mason University likes to say, lose the "we."
We don't invent things, we don't build cars, we don't build bridges, we don't provide health-care or education or any other service. Inventors invent light bulbs, assembly line processes and thousands of other innovations because they solve problems and can help the inventor to earn a living. Car manufacturers and bridge builders build cars and bridges to meet specific needs and thereby earn a profit. Teachers teach and doctors doctor because there is a demand for their services, a demand which would exist and be met without a government education monopoly or an overblown government health care establishment. The way for government to help all of them to be competitive and prosper is to remove the incredible web of regulations and burdens which make them uncompetitive, burdens layered year-by-year, congressional session by congressional session.
The president gives the government credit for the wonderful things which have happened in the past, specifically crediting President Lincoln with mobilizing government for the trans-continental railroads. What he forgot to mention was that before his presidency, Lincoln was a very well paid lobbyist and attorney for the thriving and very profitable railroads, and ramming the railroad bill through Congress was payback for support. He forgot to mention that there were four trans-continentals, and only three of them were given grants and heavy subsidies. The fourth, James J. Hill's Great Northern Railroad was built without using the army to massacre Indian populations or being granted millions of acres of free land and millions of dollars in subsidies. While the other three and were mired in corruption and extreme inefficiency, Hill's railroad was the only one that didn't go bankrupt in the economic downturn of the 1890s. So much for needing government to create human progress.
A significant portion of the spending in the bill is for infrastructure, but the term "shovel-ready" was conspicuously missing. To use that term again would have made it painfully obvious that the prior versions have failed to live up to the grandiose promises. The largest proportion of the bill's cost was for putting more money in the pockets of every American. This raises the question of why the prior versions of putting more money in the pockets of Americans failed. Can we put our thinking caps on for a moment and remember back to the beginning of the current economic disaster, when a 170 billion dollar stimulus package under President Bush was passed to do just that?
The president ended with a reference to the words of President Kennedy: "Our problems are manmade - therefore they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants." Of course it is true that our problems are man-made, and that they can be solved, but it is not true that we can solve them by doing more of the same thing which caused them in the first place. The solution requires removal of the cause. Yes, man can be as big as he wants, but government can't. It is a heavy weight which is sinking society.
Dan McLaughlin is a columnist for The Post-Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.