Over at The American Spectator, I break down the debate over regulation’s impact on the job market and propose one regulation that could create countless jobs:
As everyone knows, winter is coming. And many of the nation’s least-employed states will see a lot of snow this year. Already, giant snowplows are beginning to traverse the highways and byways of Michigan, Ohio, and other states going through hard times. With these plows, one man can do the work of a hundred.
I say we ban snowplows and hand out some shovels.
Think about it for a minute. In Michigan alone, nearly 520,000 people are looking for a job and can’t find one. Tens of thousands of miles of roads zig and zag across the state. If this winter lives up to lofty Midwestern standards, it’s possible that every last one of those 520,000 could work at least part time clearing the way for their fellow citizens. And all because of regulation!
I do enjoy economic humor. Read the whole thing here.
Have a listen here.
In a speech tonight, President Obama is expected to announce the creation of a government infrastucture bank as part of his plan to reduce unemployment. Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews explains why it won’t work as planned, and offers an alternative idea: liberalization.
I’ve argued for a long time that stimulus bills are poorly named; it implies that they stimulate the economy. “Spending bill” is a non-loaded term that has the added advantage of being accurate. Both parties have passed spending bills over the years in the hopes of stimulating the economy. Intentions being different than results, Democrats are finally starting to agree with me on this misuse of language, as The Hill reports:
Democrats are now being careful to frame their job-creation agenda in language excluding references to any stimulus, even though their favored policies for ending the deepest recession since the Great Depression are largely the same.
The article continues:
Recognizing the unpopularity of the 2009 package, however, Democratic leaders have revised their message with less loaded language – “job creation” instead of “stimulus” and “Make it in America” in lieu of “Recovery Act” – in hopes of tackling the jobs crisis.
Spending bills work by taking some money out of the economy and then putting it back in, minus transaction costs and political malfeasance; one can see why they don’t have much effect. The thinking is that Congress can invest money more wisely than private investors. If Solyndra is any indicator, that isn’t true.
Public opinion has soured on spending bills after some initial optimism. That same public also wants its politicians to do something, anything to get the economy going.
But the only tool available to Congress is spending. That’s why politicians insist on following the same failed policy over and over – it is their only tool. The only alternatives are doing nothing, or actively paring back spending and regulations. And those don’t look nearly as glamorous on camera.
Stimulus, spending bill, job creation bill – a rose by any other name has thorns just as sharp. And this particular rose refuses to bloom. That means it’s time to try something else. Maybe reducing spending to sustainable Clinton-era levels, which isn’t even particularly austere. Congress should also try a deregulatory stimulus sometime.
Have a listen here.
In a recent NBC interview, President Obama blamed ATMs for taking away bank tellers’ jobs, and computerized airline check-in kiosks for eliminating aviation jobs. Communications Coordinator Lee Doren points out that innovation doesn’t affect the number of jobs so much as the types of jobs. Accomplishing more while using less labor is actually the key to prosperity. People looking for an explanation for today’s high unemployment need to look elsewhere.
Posted in CEI Podcast, Economics
Tagged atms, basic economics, cafe hayek, causes of unemployment, Don Boudreaux, econ 101, economic fallacies, Economics, jobs, jonah goldberg, lee doren, luddites, obama, obama atm, president obama, unemployment
Have a listen here.
CEI Adjunct Fellow Fran Smith talks about the EU-Korea free trade agreement that takes effect next year, and why the US-Korea FTA stalled, to the economy’s detriment. Fran also talks about NAFTA’s impact on jobs, and why imports are a good thing.
Posted in CEI Podcast, Economics, Trade
Tagged eu, eu-korea fta, european union, free trade, free trade agreements, jobs, korea, nafta, south korea, Trade, U.S., unemployment, us-korea fta
Over at RealClearMarkets.c0m, my colleague Ryan Radia offer some ideas for how to create more high-tech jobs. Our main points:
-Do more with less. This often involves cutting workers who aren’t productive enough to offset their wages. Sounds like bad news. But it’s actually crucial to job creation. That’s because in the long run, automation frees up resources — and employees — for new opportunities.
-Hiring new employees means jumping through countless regulatory hoops. According to a 2005 study by economist W. Mark Crain, compliance costs average $5,282 per employee at large companies. Small businesses pay $7,647 per employee. Some of those resources could have been spent hiring more employees. Over-regulation causes unemployment.
-Politicians can’t create jobs. But they can help to foster better conditions for wealth and job creation. Regulations cost businesses and consumers $1.17 trillion last year alone. Congress should roll them back. Some companies fear potential clampdowns on their businesses. Congress should leave them alone. Some failing businesses are eating up resources that could be better used elsewhere. Congress should stop bailing them out.
Posted in Business Cycles, Economics, regulation, Technology
Tagged creating jobs, deregulate to stimulate, deregulation, economic liberalization, employment, high tech jobs, job creation, jobs, realclearmarkets, realclearmarkets.com, regulation
My colleague Ryan Radia and I recently sent this letter to The New York Times:
Editor, New York Times:
Catherine Rampell’s September 7 article, “Once a Dynamo, the Tech Sector Is Slow to Hire,” mourns the recent decline in U.S. data processing jobs. She blames much of the decline on the automation of previously tedious tasks.
May we suggest one way to get those jobs back: No more automation. Ban the use of computers for data processing. Imagine how much information flows through today’s global economy in an average day. Computers handle most of the load. That costs millions of jobs.
The effects would reverberate far beyond the tech sector. The paper, pen, and pencil industries would also boom.
Companies are dead-set on doing more with less. True, that creates more jobs in the long run by freeing up resources — and employees — for new ventures. But if only they would consider doing less with more, they could create more data processing jobs.
Ryan Young and Ryan Radia
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Posted in Business Cycles, Economics, The Market Process
Tagged basic economics, catherine rampell, creative destruction, data processing, econ 101, Economics, economics 101, employment, high tech jobs, jobs, new york times, outsourcing, progress
Through June, the government spent about $620 billion of stimulus money. The Obama administration claims that the spending has saved or created 2.3 to 2.8 million jobs.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume those job creation numbers are true. In fact, let’s pick the rosiest number — 2.8 million jobs.
At a price of $620 billion, that comes out to $221,428.57 per job. Startlingly inefficient.
Now consider that that $620 billion had to come from somewhere else. Some of that money came from taxes. That leaves less money left over for consumers and businesses to spend. Some of the stimulus money was borrowed. That leaves less capital for private companies borrow.
The private sector tends to spend less than the government to create a job. Since stimulus spending is spending more money to create fewer jobs than the private sector, it is actually causing net harm to the job market.
In place of the spending stimulus, I humbly offer a deregulatory stimulus. CEI VP Wayne Crews and I offer some specific proposals here.
Over at the American Spectator, I explain why it won’t, but a deregulatory stimulus would. Main points:
-Anything that Washington giveth, it must first taketh away from somewhere else. The jobs bill is a zero-sum game.
-When government borrows more, less investment capital is left over for the productive sector.
-Taxes will have to be raised later to pay for today’s increased borrowing.
-Deregulation is a better approach. The biggest obstacles to job creation and economic growth are all in Washington.
Posted in Business Cycles, Economics, Publications, regulation, Spending, Stimulus
Tagged american spectator, deregulate to stimulate, deregulation, deregulatory stimulus, jobs, jobs bill, regulation, regulations, unemployment
The Senate just passed an $18 billion spending bill. Since the House already passed it, the legislation is now headed to President Obama’s desk to await his signature and become law.
The hope is that the spending will create jobs. If you’re reading this blog, then you probably know enough about economics to know that isn’t what will actually happen. Remember: anything that Washington giveth, it must first taketh away from somewhere else. It’s a zero-sum game. All those new jobs that politicians will be touting for the cameras will have come at the expense of other jobs elsewhere. On net, they’re not creating a thing.
Take the payroll tax break for small businesses that’s in the bill. Yes, those small businesses benefit. Maybe the money they save will even be used to hire more workers. That’s easy enough to see. But that money had to come from somewhere. That is harder to see. Too hard for the Senate to see, at the very least.
The reason is this: the government is foregoing some payroll tax revenue. But since it isn’t cutting spending to match, it has to borrow more. And there’s only so much investment capital to go around. Because Washington is borrowing more, less is left over for private investment opportunities. At the very least, companies will have to offer investors higher interest rates to lure them away from government bonds.
That makes getting loans more expensive. And when something gets more expensive, there tends to be less of it. Because of today’s bill, about $18 billion less capital will be available for the private sector to create jobs.
The legislation the Senate passed today is no jobs bill, at least on net. It is a spending bill. It doesn’t create jobs, it only redirects them.
Posted in Economics, Spending, Stimulus
Tagged barack obama, billions, creating jobs, Economics, jobs, jobs bill, jobs saved or created, obama, overspending, president barack obama, president obama, profligate spending, senate, spending, Stimulus, unemployment, us senate