WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama likes to use the word "investment" in his campaign speech on getting the U.S. economy growing again, but it means something very different for him than it does for most people.
To the average American, making an investment means putting one's money into an asset or business enterprise that will return a dividend or interest payment or capital gain -- something that will grow in value over time.
The lifeblood of the American economy and the source of all jobs and growth is capital -- investment capital -- that comes from people who are both workers and investors. Each benefits from the other. But in Obama's speeches, "investment" is a euphemism for government spending -- and it plays an all too prominent role in his platform. As for the word "capital" -- without which there can be no investment to build or expand businesses and create jobs -- that doesn't turn up at all in his economic speeches. More on that later.
The freshman senator from Illinois told an audience in St. Louis, Mo., that "the answer to our fiscal problems is not to shortchange investments that will help our families get ahead -- investments that are vital to our long-term growth as a nation."
But what Obama calls "investments" sound like government giveaways -- taking money from some Americans to give to others -- otherwise known as income redistribution. He's planning a lot of giveaways. Here are four of them:
-- Giveaway No. 1: "A second stimulus package that provides energy-rebate checks for working families ..."
-- Giveaway No. 2: "Establish a fund in the Treasury to help (subprime mortgage) families avoid foreclosure."
-- Giveaway No. 3: "Increased assistance for states that have been hard hit by the economic downturn." These are state governments that spent all their money when times were good, but face deficits when times are bad.
-- Giveaway No. 4: Fifty percent of the first $1,000 saved by "working families" earning less than $75,000 "deposit(ed) directly into your account" by the federal government.
Whatever the merits of these spending programs, they are not going to reinvigorate the economy or create any private-sector jobs. Obama talks a lot about creating jobs, but his speech is disturbingly hostile to wealthy people, who do the most investing. He also harbors no fondness for the notion of using tax incentives to boost capital investment -- i.e., venture capital and risk capital -- to grow the economy, which in turn will create more jobs.