There’s an old saying: If your only tool is a hammer, you see every problem as a nail.
The first of President-elect Obama’s Saturday addresses, and his Press Conferences this week leave one with the growing suspicion that his tools are limited, and the ones he deploys most often, no matter what the problem, are the rhetorical devices of election campaigns.
His Saturday speech followed the standard campaign format. First came the list of horrors currently bedeviling America, all caused by Bush and the Republicans. Then, there were standard expressions of urgency, designed to exploit the stress and anxiety many Americans already feel:
- “We’ve lost 1.2 million jobs this year and if we don’t act swiftly and boldly most experts now believe we could lose millions of jobs next year”
- “What is not negotiable is the need for immediate action.”
- “Right now there are millions of mothers and fathers lying awake at night wondering if next weeks paycheck willc over next month’s bills.”
- “Americans need help and they need it now!”
- “It is time to act.”
Finally, the standard assurance that help is on the way:
I have already directed my economic team to come up with an economic recovery plan that will [create] 2.5 million jobs by January 2011.
Jobs in 2011 sure doesn’t conform with “Americans need help and they need it now!”
What will these jobs be? Obama laid out the standard, poll tested list from his campaign:
- roads and bridges,
- school construction
- wind farms,
- solar panels,
- “alternative energy technologies that can free us of dependence on foreign oil.”
Mr. Obama, a typical politician, simply ignores the obvious: these government sponsored jobs will be funded by seizing resources from the private sector, thus reducing private sector employment. And since government is notoriously wasteful and inept, there will be fewer jobs than the private sector would have created with the same resources.
But this process of seizing private resources to fund government sponsored jobs serves a politician’s need to point to a list of “accomplishments.” We can see and count new government sponsored jobs, while we cannot see or count the jobs that would have been created by private sector entrepreneurs, innovators and investors, had they not suffered interference by government.
The President-elect’s message is directed to the same groups his campaign targeted: the uninformed. Uninformed voters don’t know that the political Left has erected barriers to road and bridge construction in the form of years of bureaucratic process and environmental litigation. Most of the money Congress appropriates for roads, bridges, and other infrastructure isn’t spent in the year it is budgeted. It is “sequestered” and held for spending two – ten years later when projects finally clear administrative hurdles. Only then are people hired to begin the physical work.
Those who voted for “change” hoping it would mean immediate employment opportunities will be sadly disappointed.