Harris sets me to thinking

They’re a little longer than a radio commercial, yet not long enough to allow attention to wander.

The latest “update” from Andy Harris concerns President Obama’s Stimulus II. Clocking in at 1:38, it essentially goes over once again many of the points I’ve previously discussed, but in an audio format. So I don’t need to beat a dead horse on the specifics.

I would like to take a few moments and talk about the comparison Andy makes to Reagan-era policies, though.

Indeed, most of the country was awash in prosperity once the Reagan economic formula kicked in. It was a little slower to come to my native area because at the time the auto industry was trying to deal with the influx of Japanese imports; cars which were better designed with higher quality than the rustbuckets Detroit was putting out at that time.  So our auto-industry dependent city was not the economic dynamo other portions of the country were.

My point is that prosperity can’t be guaranteed, even with sound federal policy like low taxes and enhanced trade. There are still too many times when authority gets into the way and paradigms don’t shift quickly enough. The Big Four (at the time, since AMC wasn’t yet a thing of the past) allowed onerous labor rules and the assumption that car buyers would always be loyal to American products get in the way of looking forward and nimbly taking on their competition. It wasn’t just about making small cars, since Detroit tried that with Vegas, Chevettes, Pintos, Escorts, Omnis, Horizons, and Gremlins (if there was ever a name which fit a car, that was it) without much success at beating back the Japanese hordes. It’s a blow from which the American auto industry has never recovered.

Low taxes and fewer regulations from government are a start, but we can’t count on those to promote jobs in and of themselves. We also need a number of other things which government may or may not provide, like a system which rewards innovation, a well-educated workforce which is versed in both vocational skill and critical thinking, and a culture which values excellence and achievement over dependency and class envy.

While Republicans agree on some points of Obama’s jobs plan, I honestly don’t think much of it will do that much good in the long run. For example, jobs working on infrastructure are transient because you have the road eventually gets repaired. (If not, then someone needs to plan and build a better road that lasts for decades, not a couple years.) And expanding training to the unemployed seems to me another way of instilling government dependence – heck, I have been unemployed a number of times but got work either through the task of being hired by another company, pursuing my own work, or both. Haven’t government programs to assist the unemployed in finding a job been around for decades? Mine was called “hit the streets, send out resumes, and don’t be afraid of change.” It works.

Unfortunately, I think Obama is making two key mistakes in his infrastructure rebuilding ideas: first of all, he’s attempting to target spending money we don’t have into areas where the market may not be there (a lack of planning) and secondly he attempts to pick winners and losers through who gets and who provides the funding (a lack of foresight.) I don’t think there will be any sort of priority aside from what is politically expedient and correct, so a worthy infrastructure project like improving the U.S. 13 corridor through Delaware to an interstate-grade highway (to allow Delmarva better access to major Northeast markets by truck, which can create jobs here) would be set aside in favor of “investing” in mass transit no one rides, building a bike trail to nowhere, or weatherizing houses no one will want to buy anyway because the area is a hotbed of criminal activity.

The basic philosophy Any Harris holds is correct: Keep the government out of our pocket as much as possible and get them out of the way of development and job creation. But that’s only one key to success, as Americans have to seize the opportunities once presented. Unlike the 1980s, when there were still many millions of proud Americans who didn’t exhibit the entitlement mentality, Americans of today don’t seem to have the drive and desire to make it on their own. I’d love to be proven wrong, but seeing where Republicans have found some common ground with another of Obama’s big-spending schemes I fear the paradigm of government dependency may take a long time to reverse.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.