In other words, what do we want the jobs summit to focus on -- new government programs or new incentives for profit? Common sense provides the answer: Make it easier, instead of harder, to do business, and business, with a glint in its collective eye, will do the rest.
Arguments for tax cuts and slackened regulation aren't the arguments for laissez faire that "progressives" always make them out to be. Laissez faire means let 'em alone to do whatever they want. Nobody advocates that in undiluted purity. The concept is fun, nevertheless, to contemplate alongside that of make-'em-do-what-Congress-says, which latter concept is a mighty mucker-up of incentives and dreams.
Examples? Here's one from The New York Times, just the other day. We all remember how Congress set out two years ago to address our energy needs by ordering -- yes, ordering -- that refiners more than double their use of ethanol by 2015. If only they could! Says the Times story: "Nobody … counted on fuel demand falling in the United States, which is what has happened during the recession … updated projections suggest that the country is unlikely to be able to use all the ethanol that Congress has ordered up." Never mind, as Gilda Radner used to say.
The perpetual trouble with government regulators is their inability to figure out what the market wants and needs. Bureaucracy plays by the rule book: It says here on page 26 …
And what happens when what it says here no longer matches needs and expectations? At best, a long debate happens. Like now, when the jobs summit has to weigh a variety of "plans," few of which will address the problem as powerfully as would a strong call for more and better profits.
If government would just stop trying to do everything in the world … but you're not holding your breath, right?
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