Like competing used car salesmen who will say anything to close a deal, Democrats and Republicans are engaged this week in a shameful contest to see who can tell the biggest lie about how they’re going to create jobs for out-of-work Americans.
In a speech tonight, Barack Obama will call for spending $300 billion to build schools, retrain workers and pay teacher salaries, among other things. (A CBS News report says this morning that the package might top $400 billion.) Meanwhile, the leading hucksters angling to win the GOP nomination twisted the facts last night over which one of them had done the best in the past in “creating jobs.”
Let’s talk for a second about reality. Politicians don’t create jobs. Politicians destroy jobs. Even if the coercive state is going to exist, the best it can ever do is step out of the way and stop crippling the market with taxes, regulation and populist rhetoric.
In a terrific article the staff monkeys shared in this morning’s news links, economist Russ Roberts brings up some of the obvious questions that none of the politicians are asking. The worst part is that voters and news media aren’t asking the questions, either. Almost everybody in the country has been so indoctrinated in the bizarre lie that government can create jobs that the point isn’t even debated. It’s accepted as fact.
Governments don’t offer anything of value — beyond merely peaceful stability and enforcement of contract law, at best. Anything beyond that is economically destructive. When the state takes dollars from one person to give them to another, it’s destroying wealth, not creating it. We’ve covered this before very recently, so I’m not going to go into the details again.
I just want to remind you to question the things you’re hearing from politicians about jobs right now. When they talk about spending money, ask yourself where that money comes from. (It comes from us, either through taxes or borrowing.) Ask yourself why we should trust them about this. (Their previous efforts have all been failures.)
And ask yourself why we let politicians get away with telling the same lies and why we never hold them responsible for their collective failure. Why do we reject one failed politician and then put an identical one — with another party label — in his place. That’s a kind of collective denial that I can’t explain.
Note: If you enjoyed Russ Roberts’ article, you might enjoy the weekly EconTalk podcast that he does. It’s one of the highlights of my week when new one-hour episodes come out each Monday. You can subscribe via iTunes.