comments_image Comments

George Will Should Follow Helen Thomas

George Will is a Pulitzer prize winner, and was once a reliably intellectual conservative of the old blue-blooded Northeastern variety. But I just wasted 10 minutes reading a column so lazily constructed, that it causes me to wonder if Will is still enjoying this work. He wants to go here:
Uncertainty is a consequence of hyperkinetic government, which is a consequence of the governmental confidence that is a consequence of progressivism. The premise of progressivism is that all will be well if enough power is concentrated in Washington, and enough Washington power is concentrated in the executive branch, and enough really clever experts are concentrated in the executive branch. This is why the government's perceived impotence concerning the gulf oil spill is subversive of the Obama administration's master narrative.
Nonsense, obviously. But he doesn't even have any coherent hook on which to hang it. He seems to have flailed around, and managed to grab a single monthly job report. Here's how he begins the column:
Concerning the job numbers from May, one can almost echo Henry James's exclamation after examining letters pertaining to Lord Byron's incest: "Nauseating perhaps, but how quite inexpressibly significant." Except that the May numbers' significance can be expressed: A theory is being nibbled to death by facts. Private-sector job creation almost stopped in May. The 41,000 jobs created were dwarfed by the 411,000 temporary and low-wage government jobs needed to administer the census. Last year's stimulus having failed to hold unemployment below 8 percent as predicted, Barack Obama might advocate another stimulus -- amending Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, which mandates a census every 10 years. If it were every year, he could take credit for creating 564,000 -- the current number of census takers -- permanent jobs. May's 41,000 jobs were one-fifth of the April number and substantially fewer than half the number needed to keep pace with the normal growth of the labor force. This is evidence against the theory that a growing government can be counted on to produce prosperity because a government dollar spent has a reliable multiplier effect as it ripples through the economy from which the government took the dollar. Today's evidence suggesting sluggish job creation might give pause to a less confident person than Obama.
I won't waste either of our time to discuss this in detail. Briefly:
  • It's ridiculous to base any argument in the world on a single jobs report
  • We needed stimulus because the private sector was shedding jobs fast; suggesting that the stimulus crowded out private investment and private sector job creation that wasn't happening is insane.
  • The package wasn't a model of progressive policy, but a centrist compromise crafted by the Congress.
  • Here's overall job creation in the past 18 months:
Picture 12And here's just private sector: Picture 13 I'll just add that when the stimulus passed, actual liberals and progressives were saying it wasn't big enough to fulfill its promise.
See more stories tagged with: