Pick an Economic Strategy, Mr. President

| January 31, 2010 | Reply

Mark Steyn has drilled down to the real reason we’re still stuck in a recession we should have been climbing out of months ago.

Functioning societies depend on agreed rules. If you want to open a business, you do it in Singapore or Ireland, because the rules are known to all parties. You don’t go to Sudan or Zimbabwe, where the rules are whatever the state’s whims happen to be that morning.

That’s why Obama is such a job-killer. Why would a small business take on a new employee? The president’s proposing a soak-the-banks tax that could impact your access to credit. The House has passed a cap-and-trade bill that could impose potentially unlimited regulatory costs. The Senate is in favor of “health” “care” “reform” that will allow the IRS to seize your assets if you and your employees’ health arrangements do not meet the approval of the federal government. Some of these things will pass into law, some of them won’t. But all of them send a consistent, cumulative message: that there are no rules, that they’re being made up as they go along — and that some of them might even be retroactive, as happened this week with Oregon’s new corporate tax.

In such an environment, would you hire anyone? Or would you hunker down and sit things out? Obama can bury it in half a ton of leaden telepromptered sludge but the world has got the message: More Washington, more micro-regulation of every aspect of your life, more multi-trillion-dollar spending, and no agreed rules in a game ever more rigged against you.

Businesses can survive a lot, including high-taxes and repressive governmental regulations. What they can not survive is chaos. That’s not a really a “Eureka!”-level revelation, unless you happen to be a member of the Obama Economic Super Friends. Businessmen, especially those who own and operate small businesses, have been warning the administration for months that they’ll simply hunker down and wait for the administration to pick one strategy and stick to it for longer than a couple of weeks. The administration has simply been ignoring them. As a result, we have slipped to the eighth-freest economy in the world. Canada, the land of socialized health care that exports its patients to the United States for treatment, is now a better place for people to run a small business than the United States of America.

I don’t hold out any great hope that the President, who hasn’t earned a legit paycheck since he had a newspaper route as a teenager, will introduce anything like free-market economic policies. I do expect him to stop flitting around the withered field of progressive economic fads like a hummingbird with ADHD. One day he’s for spending TARP money on banks to give them more money to loan, the next he’s trying to tax banks harder for taking TARP money. He wants to nationalize the student loan industry and induce people to work for the Federal Government by giving them loan forgiveness but he also wants to give small businesses tax incentives to hire the very people he’s trying to recruit away from the private sector. What business owner could make a rational decision with all that zigging and zagging going on?

Our small business owners need stability and the sooner we get it, the sooner we can get about turning our economy around. The President needs to sit down, calm down, and find some other place to meddle for a while.

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Category: The Economy and Your Money

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