Jacob Sullum

Unlike a private equity firm's turnaround plans (or any other company's investment decisions), this approach prizes inefficiency. As far as Obama is concerned, the more people it takes to accomplish a given task, the better. The same employment-focused logic explains his embrace of the broken planet fallacy, which holds that global warming is an economic boon because it creates "green jobs."

Obama's job fetish was also apparent in his response to Romney's recent remarks about the importance of increasing productivity, or output per worker. "The problem isn't that the American people aren't productive enough," Obama said. "You've been working harder than ever."

Hard work is not an end in itself. A farmer who tills his field by hand indisputably works harder than one who relies on machines. And because the old-fashioned method is less productive, it increases employment in the agricultural sector. That does not mean we would be better off with Stone Age farm technology.

Contrary to Obama's message, wealth creation is not just the obsession of rich investors, it is the key to prosperity. Precisely because of the discipline imposed by the possibility of failure, individuals concerned only about their own profits create more jobs accidentally than central planners who "take into account everybody" can hope to create on purpose.


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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