And the Republican Solution is … What, Exactly?

by | Sep 13, 2011 | POLITICS

Fox News online reports: “Obama’s latest jobs plan calls for $130 billion in aid to state and local governments, providing either a welcome infusion of cash for those struggling with budget gaps, government layoffs and crumbling roads or merely a temporary patch for budget holes that are likely to remain long after the federal money […]

Fox News online reports: “Obama’s latest jobs plan calls for $130 billion in aid to state and local governments, providing either a welcome infusion of cash for those struggling with budget gaps, government layoffs and crumbling roads or merely a temporary patch for budget holes that are likely to remain long after the federal money runs out.”

Which is it? Welcome infusion or temporary patch, at best?

Well of course it’s the latter. Government does not create wealth, but only redistributes it. Government has done nothing about jobs and the economy by transferring more money from the private sector to the public sector. All that happens is the private sector is left with even less money than before, and less capacity to create jobs. And the public sector is more dependent than ever on still more government money to complete projects that government never does well.

In my state of Delaware, there’s a tiny bridge requiring completion, a bridge between a small body of water where the Atlantic Ocean and a large bay meet. The project has been going on for eight years now, and planning began at least a decade ago. And this is Joe Biden’s state! People take such things as a matter of course. Imagine if the private sector were held to such a standard. “Oh, well, it took UPS ten years to deliver my package. Well, that’s how it goes.” Or: “Oh well, it took Apple ten years to come up with an improved version of the iPhone. What can you do?”

People expect the impossible from the private, for-profit sector, and the private sector almost always delivers. Sometimes it even surpasses expectations. The public sector, on the other hand, doesn’t deliver anything, and everyone knows it. What does this tell you? And how hopeful should we be that Obama’s latest government spending bill is going to “stimulate” anything other than — he hopes — his all-important reelection effort?

Most Americans probably understand that Obama’s “jobs plan” has nothing new in it. What nobody is talking about, and this includes Republicans campaigning for President, is what the alternative should be. Logically, there can only be one alternative: Growth of the private sector. Can the government make the private sector grow? Of course not. What can government do, then? Get out of the way.

How can government get out of the way? By cutting or eliminating taxes, by privatizing as much of government operations as possible, by deregulating across the board, by repealing bad bills — including everything passed in the last two years, for starters — and by making it clear that, so far as the federal government is concerned, the business of America is business.

Republicans have done a good job of criticizing Obama, and nearly everything they say against Obama’s policies is true. But they must be prepared to offer and stand by specific alternatives. Thirty years ago, Republican Ronald Reagan ran on a platform calling for across the board cuts in the income tax. No, this wasn’t enough to cure the economy in the long-term, but it did offer relief for the better part of a decade. At present, no Republican is offering anything specific other than (correctly) a repeal of ObamaCare. OK, that’s fine. We need a repeal of ObamaCare. But anyone who thinks this will by itself resuscitate the economy is guilty of wishful thinking. The economy was in deep trouble even before ObamaCare.

Something stops Republicans from offering specifics. We can only assume that they’re afraid to boldly lead, or that they agree with Obama more than they wish to let on. Neither is encouraging. You ought to judge a candidate for President by whether he or she offers specifics, and what those specifics are. It’s not enough to talk about the right general principles. Republicans have done that for decades. George W. Bush campaigned on limited government and even capitalism. In practice, he gave us expanded Medicare, unprecedented domestic spending, a huge deficit (after inheriting a surplus), and a ton of regulatory interference that, among other things, helped create the real estate bubble.

People understand that Obama’s approach to the economy is not working. But most still think that the government CAN do something to fix the economy; it’s just that Obama hasn’t come up with the right fix yet.

What people don’t get is that the government is never going to fix the economy. The only thing the government can do is stop standing in the way.

Voters won’t permit the government to get out of the way. This is probably why Republicans don’t get specific. They’re afraid of voters, because voters are afraid of losing government. They fear that if government gets out of the way, things will get worse. But things are getting steadily worse all the time, as people can plainly see. Even Obama is, for the first time, in a bit of a panic, since he actually has to convince people to reelect him.

For decades, the government has been intervening in the private economy relentlessly and almost without a break. For the last two years, government has intervened in the economy at a level never before seen. It has nationalized automobile companies, essentially taken over the financial and banking industry and nationalized health care. Yet things are getting worse. Doesn’t this suggest we have been going in the wrong direction — and that privatization is the only solution?

It’s easy to blame Republicans and even Obama, but in the end it’s irrational fear that is killing America. Americans claim in polls that they don’t like Big Government, but they’re likewise petrified of pushing government out of the way.

The results speak for themselves. Like so many other irrational fears, this one leads the fearful person to exactly the scenario he wants to avoid.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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