American Elephants

Joblessness Is Not a Mystery. It’s Caused by the Government. by The Elephant's Child

Robert J. Samuelson has a column today at Investors, titled “Joblessness is Top Problem, But No One Has An Answer,” Columnists usually don’t write their own titles, but the title reflects the content.

The official jobless rate is 7.9%, but it would be 14.4% if it included part-timers who’d like full-time work and discouraged workers who have stopped looking, notes Janet Yellen, vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Board.

Scarce jobs are the nation’s first, second and third most important economic and social problem.

What’s especially disheartening and mystifying is that, until now, job creation was considered an inherent strength of the American economy.

Well, it’s obviously just “The New Normal.” Samuelson is a lefty, but usually a somewhat sensible one. I expected better.

Individual businessmen, small business owners, manufacturers, economists, business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and others  have all been quite vocal about what is keeping them from creating jobs, growing and expanding. It’s the federal government.

We have the highest corporate taxes in the industrialized world. The flow of regulation from almost every federal department has increased dramatically. No one knows what regulation they might suddenly fall afoul of.  And overcriminalization is rampant. Businesses are ruined, and their owners put in jail for regulations they didn’t know existed, or for over-zealous prosecution.

Obama has, through the Interior Department and through Fish and Wildlife and through the EPA destroyed whole businesses, robbed people of their livelihoods. SWAT teams are sent in to terrorize innocent people. And above all, the implementation of ObamaCare is forcing companies to let workers go, or to shift full-time workers to part-time, because of the absolute unworkable mess of a law, and the hugely increasing costs on business. If you increase the cost of doing business, businesses are forced to hire fewer people.

Obama has a fixed idea that global warming is a fact (it’s not), that it is caused by CO2 from fossil fuels (it’s not), and that he must save the world from its depredations by shutting down the oil and gas industry to be replaced by “clean energy” from wind and solar. (not possible).

He said he wants to bankrupt the coal industry, and  I’ve lost track of how many coal-fired power plants he has caused to be shut down, with the communities who depend on them. Coal, he believes, is dirty, However a new process for producing energy from coal promises to be cheap and clean.

Wind and solar energy are not cost-effective, and without massive government subsidy, would not exist. The two combined still represent only a tiny part of national energy needs. Obama’s dream of complete reliance on green energy is a pipedream.

America is awash in cheap energy. Obama has attempted to shut down oil from the Gulf. He has closed off most federal lands from potential drilling, including the land set aside for oil and gas production in Alaska. He has refused to approve the Keystone XL pipeline (20,000 jobs).

If you want a growing, prospering economy, you need cheap energy. Energy drives every sector of the economy. Obama has striven to raise the cost of energy in the belief that higher costs would make people favor wind and solar energy more. His misguided beliefs about energy are a major reason for American unemployment.
Mr. Samuelson quotes Obama’s favorite figure of the economy having generated 5.5 million jobs, but admits that the official jobless rate of 7.9% would be 14.4% if you included the discouraged workers who have stopped looking. What he doesn’t mention is that the potential work force is always growing as the population increases. The economy would have to add a minimum of 200,000 new jobs each month to keep up with the growing number of people in the potential labor force.  It’s not improving.

Head Start: 40 Year, $100 Billion Failure. Obama Pushes To Do It Again. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is pushing forward with a proposal to enhance learning opportunities for pre-kindergarten under-privileged children and middle class children. He wants to provide opportunities for children as young as 3 to participate, asserting that “education has to start at the earliest possible age.”

The president claimed every dollar invested in high-quality pre-kindergarten education ultimately saves more than $7 by, among other things, boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, and reducing violent crime. Yet the U.S. isn’t offering enough kids educational opportunities at a time when they are “just sponges soaking stuff in.”

This was the rationale for Head Start. The idea seems to be that well-to-do families often send their children to expensive pre-schools, their children do better in school, therefore if we duplicate the pre-school programs for poor children, then they will do well in school too. Oddly enough, we have just had another report from HHS on Head Start, which was mandated by Congress during the 1998 reauthorization of the program. After collecting data on more than 5,000 three and four-year-old children randomly assigned to either a Head Start or a non Head Start control group, the Department of Health and Human Services found “few sustained benefits”.

For more than 40 years the federal government has plowed more than $100 billion into this program, to little effect. There are other government programs whose effects actually grow substantially over time, and that are comparatively economical. The federal DC voucher program found that by their third year in private schools, the evidence was clear that voucher-receiving students were reading more than two grade levels above a randomized control group that stayed in public schools. Congress, particularly Democrats, defunded the DC voucher program while raising spending on Head Start.

The answer to the quandary of giving pre-school children a good start in education comes not from the example of a popular but ineffective Head Start program, but from another example, which President Obama probably didn’t like either, at the National Prayer Breakfast, when Dr. Benjamin Carson gave the keynote address.

Without saying a word critical of the president, Dr. Carson eviscerated the core assumptions of the Obama administration. He spoke eloquently about individual responsibility , the consequences of moral decay and soaring debt, the sinfulness of class envy and the pernicious effects of political correctness. It must have been especially galling to have his premises challenged by an African-American of such sterling character and profound accomplishment. Jack Kelly described:

Ben Carson was reared in inner-city Detroit by a mother who made time to parent despite working 18-hour days. She restricted her sons’ TV watching, wouldn’t let them play outside until they’d done their homework, required them to read two books a week.

The books his mom made him read eventually sparked a love of learning in young Ben.

A dramatic early incident caused him to deal with his violent temper, and he concluded that what happened to him in life depended chiefly on the choices he made, and the energy he put into them.

From then on, Dr. Carson’s story is pure Horatio Alger: A scholarship to Yale, medical school at the University of Michigan, then Johns Hopkins, where he became director of pediatric neurosurgery at the remarkably young age of 33. He pioneered the surgical techniques used to separate conjoined twins. He’s among America’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists, according to CNN; a “living legend,” according to the Library of Congress. A movie about his life was made in 2009.

Simple stubborn program. Restricted TV watching. Can’t play outside until their homework’s done, and make them read two books a week. How to parent.

Most of us don’t know all that much about parenting, except what we learned from our own parents. I’ve read about Asian “tiger mothers” who apparently account for the numbers of successful Asian students who become successful professionals at the top of their fields. So how do we teach parents how to raise successful students and successful professionals? This is a job for society’s little platoons, the private organizations and the churches, Not the federal government.

The federal government is inflicted with political correctness and silly ideas about diversity, and regulations and one-size-fits-all bureaucracy. They are not capable of fixing this.

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