If you want a measure of what it means to have an administration in Washington that puts failed ideology first, take a look at last week’s jobs report. If you want an example of how a president should be acting in a time like this, look at how Margaret Thatcher, who passed away this morning, turned Britain around from 1979 to 1990.
Even Obama administration allies aren’t trying to put a happy face on the jobs numbers. A “punch in the gut” one called it. As you have no doubt heard by now, the tiny drop in the unemployment figure reflected primarily fewer people looking for work, not more people finding it.
The gainfully employed percentage of the labor force is the lowest since Jimmy Carter was president. Much as I enjoy kicking Jimmy Carter, one of our worst presidents, what now seems a low level of workforce engagement was high then. The growth in labor force participation began in the mid-1960s, as, freed from limited employment prospects by education and from traditional household labors by in-home automation, women moved into the paid workforce. Carter’s presidency came in the middle of this trend. The trend strengthened during the Reagan presidency. It leveled of in the years 1998-2000. It has never retuned to that peak since.
The number dropped sharply, of course, early in the Obama years, as the nation struggled with the financial collapse. But we are four years beyond the collapse now. We are adding jobs, but as has been true throughout this presidency, we are not adding themf fast enough to make up for new people entering the workforce. The result: 23 percent youth unemployment and an enormous wave of older men and women dropping out of the labor market in favor of federal disability support, a trend highlighted in this morning’s Wall Street Journal(http://tinyurl.com/cfao5c9). In all, 90 million Americans are out of work and no longer looking.
The administration’s clueless response has been to call for more spending, more taxes and more regulations. This is basically the same package of policies they have been following the last four year and that Franklin Roosevelt pursued in the 1930s. Here’s a shocker. Mr. Obama has delivered the same results as FDR did – very slow if any real economic growth.
After all, the administration’s mantra-like talk of taxing the rich and redistributing wealth is just a leftist happy face spin on a much grimmer reality – the strangling of job-creating investment.
The 30-percent minimum tax? All that means is doubling the capital gains tax rate, to which small business investment is hair trigger sensitive. Entrepreneurial investment has also been the source of most new U.S. jobs for decades.
Then there is the president’s renewed drive against climate change. What perfect timing. It is now universally acknowledged that the global temperature has NOT changed for at least a decade. And for all the talk of a consensus among scientists that global warming was happening and that industrial activity was the cause, as British policy intellectual Rupert Darwall documents in his soon-to-be released The Age of Global Warming (http://tinyurl.com/dxz54on), there never was a true consensus, just a power play and a public relations blitz.
If we want to see the way a real leader responds to an economic crisis, we should, as I said, look to the example Margaret Thatcher. Prime Minister Thatcher took a nation that had been flat on its back from two decades of what we would now call Obama-style policies and brought it back to life and greatness.
She took on the unions; she didn’t bow to them. She took down barriers to entrepreneurship and free enterprise; she didn’t raise them. She backed a strong currency; she didn’t debase it. She reversed past government takeovers of one economic sector after another; she didn’t nationalize sectors. She stood firmly in the world with her country’s allies and spoke candidly about the global adversaries of freedom.
She was one of history’s great leaders. If only America had such leadership now.