Change We Can't Believe In

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If the President of the United States were to announce that his new "energy package" were going to create "millions of jobs" in the horse-and-buggy industry, we would laugh, as no one would believe him to be serious. However, the man who occupies the White House is serious.

In a recent radio address, Barack Obama declared, among other things that his energy package would create "millions of jobs." A news article declared:

Weeks of negotiations have led to the introduction in the House of an energy proposal that, for the first time, would mandate reductions in the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming and shift the country toward cleaner sources of energy.

To put it another way, the government is going to add regulations that are going to make it much more expensive to generate electricity, heat our homes, and power our automobiles and other transportation vehicles. The article went on to claim:

The climate bill will help create millions of jobs producing wind turbines and solar panels, and developing alternative fuels with the goal of reducing U.S. reliance on foreign energy sources, he said. Controlling health care costs will make businesses more competitive and give families more money to save or spend.

Yes, in the name of "creating jobs," the president and his government are going to destroy wealth by forcing us to pay more for everything. They also will add to the burdens of healthcare professionals, all in the name of "cutting costs."

Let us look at this notion that we can use wind turbines to replace current electric power plants. Wind turbines are inconsistent, being dependent upon the amount of wind at any time, while electricity grids require consistency. Furthermore, they are to modern power plants what horses and buggies are to the automobiles. People like Obama can romanticize about windmills on the ridges (we have plenty of them where we live in the mountains of Western Maryland and Pennsylvania), but no one in his right mind would want to depend upon them for their main source of electricity.

Unfortunately, the president hardly is done remaking the U.S. economy. From declaring war on low-cost energy production to trying further to force doctors to become part of the Department of Health and Human Services bureaucracy, Obama is forcing one sector of the economy after another to bow to his will.

However, taking legal and regulatory control and making an economy become prosperous are two different and mutually-exclusive things. If Obama wants the kind of control that he is demanding, there is no way that a well-oiled, highly-productive economy can arise from such circumstances. Instead, over time, we will get a deflated, poorly-capitalized economy in which we will see deterioration much like what was seen in Great Britain in the three decades after the end of World War II, when the government raised taxes to ruinous levels and took over one sector after another. The nickname was "British Disease," and it seems that Obama wants us to experience it here.

In announcing these new government initiatives, Obama remarked that "we are seeing that the ways of Washington are beginning to change." This is nonsense. Washington always has been about grabbing power and sapping the economic strength of this country. Obama simply is another person in a long line of presidents who have praised the parasites and condemned those who are productive.

Obama’s campaign slogan was, "Change We Can Believe In." Well, I don’t believe he has brought change; he only is ratcheting up the wave of tyranny that comes from Washington, D.C. The end result will be that Americans will be much poorer, but when he runs for election in 2012, Obama will claim that his policies have made us "better off." I will believe it when I see it, but his policies are in violation of all sane laws of economics, and the sorry outcome is inevitable.

May 18, 2009

William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit his blog.

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