Wednesday, February 20, 2013
President Obama has new priorities. That means new spending.
In his State of the Union, he said, "The American people don't expect government to solve every problem." But then he went on to list how, under his guidance, government will solve a thousand problems, including some (like climate change and a loss of manufacturing jobs) that are probably not even problems.
The president bragged about creating "our first manufacturing innovation institute" in Ohio and says that he will create 15 more. Politicians claim actions like this are needed to solve the "decline of manufacturing" in America. John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Pat Buchanan also fret about this. But what they call "decline" is myth. There is no decline in manufacturing.
The Federal Reserve says that U.S. manufacturing output is up from 2000, and up almost 50 percent from 1990. Yes, manufacturing employment is down because automation and government's labor rules led companies to automate and produce more with fewer employees, but that's OK.
Manufacturing jobs are no better than other jobs. Few parents today prefer their children work in factories rather than offices.
When the need for people in one type of industry decreases -- say, making wagon wheels -- they are freed up to work in other areas. What America needs is a flexible economy that provides new jobs. For years, we had that.
Workers who lost factory jobs found new work in the fast-growing service industry. Creating software, movies and medical innovation is just as valuable as manufacturing and often more comfortable for workers. Anyway, politicians don't know where new jobs will appear.
"Yet the president wants 15 'manufacturing hubs,' which I guess will be like Solyndra cities," lamented Deroy Murdock, one of three libertarian reporters who came on my show to react to our president's plans.
Murdock's right. Politicians should accept the fact that making things is something the market does pretty well on its own. This month, the Energy Department's inspector general reports that, three years after being awarded a $150 million federal grant, a taxpayer-backed battery plant in Holland, Mich., has not produced a single battery. At one point, the company's workers were paid to do nothing.
"Then we have a 'college scorecard' that Obama will bring," said Murdock. "U.S. News & World Report updates which colleges do a good job, but (now) government will do that?"
Then came the president's call for more spending on preschool.
"I am sympathetic to people wanting to shove their kids out the door," joked Katherine Mangu-Ward, "but Head Start, our pilot program for universal preschool, has a not-great record. We spend $8 billion to get very, very little in terms of results. ... We suck at education."
Well, government does.
Michael C. Moynihan was disappointed that President Obama's speech contained no talk of significant reform of Social Security and Medicare. "Even in this sort of dire circumstance: no change whatsoever."
Both parties are guilty of avoiding our "dire circumstance," said Moynihan. "There was a big announcement in 2011 -- $300, $400 billion in spending would be cut, (but) this was a mirage, there were no spending cuts. ... (What) cuts in Washington mean is that you reduce the rate of increase a little."
Instead of letting obsolete government programs die, bureaucrats come up with new excuses to keep spending. "Like the Rural Electrification Administration," said Murdock. "That was put in by FDR to bring power to Appalachia. (Now) they put in broadband Internet."
The Washington Post reports on a federally supported program that is so bad that even President Obama wants it cut. The Christopher Columbus Fellowship spent 80 percent of its money on overhead. Three Republicans introduced legislation to end it, but the subsidy lives on, because one senator, Thad Cochran, R-Miss., likes it.
So America continues to move toward bankruptcy. Instead of addressing that, the politicians will spend more .
Instead of announcing 15 new "manufacturing" hubs, the president should just announce 300 million "do whatever you want with your own money" hubs. Then American citizens can do as they please.
That would actually do some good.
John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed."
COPYRIGHT 2013 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
See Other Political Commentary
See Other Commentary by John Stossel
Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.