Harnessing the Ants so the Hoppers Can Ride
Fighting capitalism is a thankless task that requires not only a colossal arrogance, but a masterful mendacity. A notable example is the Obama administration’s bragging about having created 640,000 jobs with $159 billion of “stimulus” money. Whether that many jobs were created seems doubtful to me, but let’s assume it is true. We will also ignore that those numbers work out to $250,000 per job. The real questions are, “What are those 640,000 people doing for the money?” and “How does it stimulate the economy?”
We can be fairly certain the new job holders are not producing anything anyone wants. These are, after all, government jobs, which is to say, jobs that depend not on what they produce, but on funds drained from or borrowed on behalf of the productive economy.
Though there are government jobs that people demand, like police and fire protection, stimulus jobs, created simply for the sake of creating them, are like hiring people to dig holes and fill them up again. They are a waste of resources. They don’t stimulate anything. No productive work is done. All money the job holders receive is taken from people who already have jobs. We see the money spent on these new jobs, but what we don’t see is how it might have been better spent by those from whom the government took it.
It’s the old politicians’ trick of concentrating benefits and diffusing costs. You create a small vocal constituency of relatively big winners at the expense of a much larger group of small losers. You create a powerful voting bloc of Peters for whom you rob a larger group of Pauls. You are careful not to sting the Pauls so much they will complain. The only stimulus is to campaign contributions from the Peters, while the Pauls are slowly but steadily drained of hard earned wealth.
Job creation is part of the illusion that hides the real nature of the scheme. If a person has a job we assume he is doing something useful. But the Obama administration could simply have sent $10,000 checks at random to 15 million American homes or $1,590 to all 100 million American households and got the same effect. But wait a minute, $1,590 is exactly what $159,000,000,000 costs each of the 100 million American households. There’s no political traction in that and it becomes painfully obvious that your ‘stimulus’ check is exactly equal to the increase in your tax bill. Stimulating the economy with government spending is like trying to fill a bathtub by scooping water from one end and pouring it into the other.
In the razzle dazzle involved with fooling voters into believing government can fix what ‘free market greed’ has caused, the voters must constantly be distracted from what is really going on. The administration talks about the jobs it creates as if a job were an end in itself. But only productive jobs are sustainable. Drones digging holes and filling them in again have to be fed by people producing food.
Picture yourself on a desert island. You don’t need a job. You need food, shelter, clothing, and tools. The absolute uselessness of a congressman or a building inspector becomes obvious to even the most obtuse. The folly of taking orders from people you have to feed, clothe and shelter can’t be overlooked. The only “jobs” worth doing on the island are those that produce something.
When the private economy creates jobs there is reason for celebration. It means that a business is producing something that people want. It means that demand is such that more workers are needed to increase production.
By the same token, when a company closes and jobs are lost, it means that the company wasn’t productive enough to survive. Bankruptcy is capitalism’s way of making sure that resources are not wasted.
Greed is a constant. It doesn’t exist exclusively in capitalist systems. Capitalism self-regulates against greed by punishing sloth, recklessness, and stupidity, and rewarding prudence and efficiency. Government intervention does just the opposite.
Government’s stepping in to ‘save’ a dying company prevents the market from redeploying the resources being wasted and wastes more in the effort. Thus does the Obama administration turn dead companies like GM, AIG, and Goldman Sachs into zombie consumers of precious resources, rewarding the reckless at the expense of the prudent, putting the ants in harness so the grasshoppers can continue to ride. Thus did the governments of communist Eastern Europe and Asia create repressive hell holes where people have to be kept in at gunpoint. If you are looking for a model for Mr. Obama’s changed America, look at Detroit, Michigan, a sprawling slum that has enjoyed generations of government help and planning.
The supply of labor in any society is, like all other resources, limited. The free market efficiently directs that labor to the most productive tasks without any central planning. Capitalism is at this very moment trying to redirect America’s labor force to more productive work after years of false signals from an economy shaped by government policy and dishonest money that encouraged ruinous debt, over-construction of housing, and speculation in financial markets. The forces of capitalism are working to correct the false signals in the only way they can, by punishing greed, gambling, and self-delusion. Government job creation is an effort to defeat capitalism that is as foolish and unjust as it is doomed to failure.