Thursday, January 9, 2014

Vigilance 2014: Employment Moves

As 2014 gets rolling and the critical November elections approach, there will be a few key phenomena freedom advocates must monitor to get a sense for "whether there's hope." One of those is the aggregate of moves by the federal and state governments on employment.

Not all government initiatives with important impacts on employment are obvious as such at first glance. Secondary consequences brought about by incentive effects will sometimes demand more penetration to work out. For example, while the depressive effects on employment of ObamaCare are fairly clear to anyone familiar with the structure of the law, those of the repeated extension of unemployment benefits require a bit more thought.

Alongside that, it's well to bear perpetually in mind that when Democrats in power act on employment, they prefer to do so in a fashion that benefits the elements of their coalition. Democrat administrations will strain to see to it that unionized trades are first in line for any goodies hurled off the back of the truck. Here's an example from New York State:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, entering an election year with no formidable opponent and an improving economy, claimed on Wednesday to have brought New York State back from the brink of financial ruin and unveiled proposed tax cuts and a promise of statewide prekindergarten classes, telling lawmakers that when he became governor, New York was “literally a joke on late night TV.”...

Mr. Cuomo affirmed the state’s commitment to early childhood education, and made a promise to deliver full-day prekindergarten, but he did not say how much it would cost.

The "universal pre-K" pledge addresses several Democrat strongholds, but not to be neglected are the teachers' unions. The rise of powerful anti-union currents in other parts of the country, and the demonstrated success of educational initiatives that utterly ignore the unions, have the unions even in union-friendly states rather worried. Cuomo's pre-K promise is a signal to that component of his base that they'll be taken care of in his moves on education.

Somewhat more difficult to analyze are Barack Hussein Obama's orations on "income inequality." This chimera of an issue has been a Democrat favorite since FDR's days. They do their best to efface the critical facts about income:

  • It is not "distributed;" it is paid and earned, as recompense for valued services rendered by a worker to an employer or a customer.
  • It depends on a huge number of factors, not the least of which is the scarcity of the skill being employed.
  • The true value of an income measured in dollars depends above all else on the value of the dollar.
  • Persons with greatly different dollar-denominated incomes can enjoy remarkably similar standards of living, according to the regions in which they live.

Any federal program that expands federal spending for a program to address "income inequality" will thus have the following primary and secondary effects:

  • It will increase federal borrowing.
  • It will expand Civil Service employment.
  • It will create one or more new beneficiaries of federal action (the "iron triangle" effect).
  • Inasmuch as it will be guaranteed to fail -- i.e., to have no effect or a perverse one -- it will elicit cries for more spending and greater scope of action from those poised to benefit from it.

With a Democrat in the Oval Office and Democrats in control of the Senate, you may rest assured that such a program would be meticulously sculpted to favor Democrat coalition members, to an even greater extent than the above tabulation of predictable effects would suggest. Note how stridently the Democrats, from a minority position, demanded that the newborn Transportation Security Authority (TSA) be a unionized shop. Note also how little resistance the Republicans mounted to the idea.

The very best predictor of Democrat electoral success is how successful they've been at stoking the fortunes of their coalition partners. Keep an especially sharp eye on programs likely to benefit any of the following groups:

  • Civil Service;
  • Single mothers;
  • Unionized trades;
  • Environmental activists;
  • Racialist and ethnicist mouthpiece groups.

Employment gains engineered by the Democrats, whether at the federal, state, or local level, are overwhelmingly likely to be aimed squarely at one or more of those groups. Remember that you read it here first.

1 comment:

Bitmap said...

I like this line:

"Inasmuch as it will be guaranteed to fail -- i.e., to have no effect or a perverse one -- it will elicit cries for more spending and greater scope of action . . . "

That is the approach to almost everything government does.

When personal disarmament zones cause an increase in crime then the government has the solution: more and bigger personal disarmament zones.

When the latest stretch of government power doesn't "win" the "war on drugs" then the government always wants another increase in power.

I believe the philosophy of most people in power is: There must be a crisis. If no crisis exists, then invent one. The purpose of the crisis is to justify an increase in the power of government. When the increased power doesn't solve the crisis then that justifies another increase in the power of government.

Basically, the failure of a government program or a law is used to justify a bigger government program or an expanded law.