The Cost of Progressivist Worship; Obama's Liberal Orthodoxy Kills Private-Sector Jobs

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 30, 2010 | Go to article overview

The Cost of Progressivist Worship; Obama's Liberal Orthodoxy Kills Private-Sector Jobs


Byline: Jim Powell, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Why is it that one government report after another unexpectedly bears more bad news about jobs? Last week, according to Bloomberg, The number of unemployment claims unexpectedly shot up. Before that, Reuters reported, Employers unexpectedly cut jobs. This unexpectedly bit has been going on for quite a while, suggesting that journalists continue to be surprised that President Obama's progressive agenda has failed to revive private-sector job creation. One might as well say, Monday unexpectedly will come next week.

There's no secret about how to create private-sector jobs. Plenty of experience has shown how to do it, and a great deal has been written about it. The literature on the subject goes back a couple of hundred years, so Mr. Obama can't say he just missed a tweet.

The first step is to make private-sector job creation a top priority. That's vital, because the private sector pays all the bills. Government doesn't have any money other than what it extracts from the private sector. Well, Mr. Obama never made the recovery of private-sector job creation a top priority because he was busy pushing his progressive agenda, including a big stimulus bill for government employees, government-run health care, more compulsory unionism, carbon taxes and other policies that have a negative impact on private-sector employment.

Mr. Obama's hero Franklin D. Roosevelt never made the recovery of private-sector job creation his top priority, either. He was busy establishing big welfare programs, public works projects, compulsory unionism and the first big U.S. entitlement. He multiplied the number of regulations and tripled federal taxation during the 1930s. Those policies made it more expensive and difficult for employers to hire people - major reasons why FDR's New Deal was plagued by chronic double-digit unemployment despite the 60 percent expansion of gross domestic product between 1933 and 1937.

If private-sector job creation is a top priority, government must reduce the cost of hiring people and remove other obstacles to employment. Payroll taxes make it more expensive for employers to hire people, and Mr. Obama increased payroll taxes. Minimum-wage laws discourage employers from hiring people who are worth less than the legal minimum because of their limited skills and work experience - Mr. …

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