Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Job Machine Thoughts

"What can government do to crank up America's creaky job machine?...Almost everyone agrees that the outlook is bleak."

Robert J. Samuelson, "Who's going to get the jobs machine going? The Washington Post, October 19, 2009.

I found myself admiring Samuelson's careful and sober examination of the contrasting proposals for a new federal job creation tax credit or a renewed focus on deficit reduction. He even gave Obama's stimulus some praise, although it played only second fiddle in stabilizing the economy compared to the actions of the Fed. But something felt wrong as I read. I wasn't incensed or provoked by the normally cranky Samuelson. Economic reasoning was simply doing its job.

Thank goodness he returned to himself in the last paragraph or so, boldly claiming the EPA permitting for large industrial facilities was hampering job creation. Suddenly sober analysis was replaced by a wild swing. But given his argument that nothing else will likely spur jobs in the short run, his argument about reducing government interference may carry weight, especially as we debate climate change. Bashing government for the good is certainly a way to spur jobs.

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