Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Just a jump to the Left

Jerry Stratton, March 1, 2014

Explaining the Time Warp

It’s just a jump to the left…

In Back to Work in the Weekly Standard, Irwin M. Stelzer presents a particularly Sowellian, if I may coin the term, response to the failures of Democratic attempts at more government spending and more government interference: they had the wrong intentions. Conservatives can succeed at government largess and control because they proceed from the right intentions.

Arguing for a minimum wage increase, he takes the common deceptive approach of agreeing to one drawback, blowing it up into the only drawback, and then asserting that it isn’t a big deal. Since the only drawback isn’t a big deal, might as well go along.

The CBO reckons that a move to the level [of minimum wage] Obama seeks would destroy 500,000 jobs. But it would also increase the incomes of more than 16.5 million workers.

He glosses over the “unforeseen consequences” that make this “possibly a fatally flawed thought” such as which jobs those 500,000 are going to be: the entry-level and first-time jobs for people just starting out building a career and gaining experience. The jobs most likely to be automated if the cost of humans becomes too high.

But Stelzer has a “conservative” solution for this, too:

…grants to employers preparing to lay off workers as a consequence of the increase… To induce employers to pay that [the minimum wage increase] would cost about $2.2 billion per year for, say, two years. Worth it?

This is a by-the-book beltway vision of the anointed: yes, our policies don’t work. But rather than give them up and start anew, we will add more non-working government policies on top. Never mind the added paperwork costs and new opportunities for corruption, leaving people alone is never an option. Only adding further government controls counts as a solution.

To “ameliorate the job-destroying effect of an increase in the minimum wage” he would temporarily pay employers—from everyone’s taxes, although this gets ignored—the difference. But how will this be temporary? All this does, besides wed employers even further to big government, is put off the job destruction temporarily. If we’re unwilling to face the job destruction now, why will we face it two years from now?

All this does is create something new for congress to reapprove every two years, probably just before elections.

And, how are the regulators going to decide who is telling the truth about which employees would have been fired? How will they not be more lenient on supporters of the current administration and more strict on those that donate to opposition coffers?

His stimulus also postulates angels in the form of men to administer it:

…it should be possible to allocate available funds by devising a process in which companies bid for government funds by indicating just how large a portion of the capital required they are willing to fund from their own treasuries. The company willing to bear the largest portion of the project’s capital and operating cost wins, and gets to share in the revenues from tolls, landing fees, or whatever income is generated by the infrastructure projects put out to bid… the projects will thereby have to pass a market test—no bridges to nowhere, no airports in the hometown of some important congressman, no express trains that can’t attract private capital because their costs so far exceed their market-driven benefits.

The latter does not follow from the former. What will actually occur will be a shell game of expenditures, all getting cycled back through kickbacks and double outsourcing, to inflate the projected costs and drive up the percentage that corresponds to “government funds”.

Government funds being the beltway euphemism for taxes. The whole paragraph is filled with the doublespeak of the anointed: there are no “available funds” to draw from; we’re in debt up to our ears. “Available funds” is borrowed money backed by future taxes. The “market test” is a test of regulators who choose projects to hand out as monopolies and oversee the shell game, not an actual competition for customers as would happen absent government choosing the winners and losers. And the “revenues” are more money taken from taxpayers.

The reward if conservatives buy the beltway vision of spend and control? “It might just be a tad early to reserve a place at Hillary Clinton’s inaugural ball.”

What it actually means is that the next beltway monstrosity will have the force of bipartisanship behind it, making it that much harder to repeal. We were very fortunate that Democrats didn’t accept Republican attempts at compromise when they forced the “Affordable” Care Act through. (Ironically, described in the same issue of the Standard.)

If we had already tried conservative solutions and found them wanting, some of this thrashing around might make sense. But we already know from experience that simplified tax codes help people, that reducing the regulatory burden will let people create new startups with new jobs, and that reducing the cost of and punishments for adding employees will mean more new employees for existing businesses.

Businesses like to expand. Entrepreneurs like to create. Consumers like to consume. Let them do so and you’ll get your new jobs. And they’ll be real jobs, too, not make-work jobs paid for by cycling taxes into paying employers to make up reasons to fire people so they can be paid to keep them.

In response to The Bureaucracy Event Horizon: Government bureaucracy is the ultimate broken window.

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