09.23.2011 0

Free Markets and Choice Key to Preventing Depression

By Bill Wilson — In the face of a deteriorating economy, the liberal-left has been scurrying to assign blame for the impending disaster while offering “solutions” that would further entrench their stranglehold over America.  It has become a mantra, repeated over and over from all quarters of leftist academia and media.

No better summation of the policy prescriptions from the neo-Marxists can be found than in a recent article by celebrated economist Nouriel Roubini.  In “How to Prevent a Depression,” Professor Roubini lists eight steps that need to be taken on the international and national stage.  While it would take a tome to respond to each of his suggestions, point number 7 does need to be addressed.

Roubini writes, “advanced economies need a medium-term plan to restore competitiveness and jobs via massive new investments in high-quality education, job training and hume-capital improvements, infrastructure and alternative/renewable energy.”  Translation: massive “stimulus” that kicks borrowed money to the ivory towers of academia, union honchos, and the crony-socialists selling the snake-oil of green industry.

Let’s take each of Professor Roubini’s points one at a time and see if there is a better way to achieve the same goal.

On education, America spends billions more and more each year on a system that produces weaker and weaker results.  We have built up an education-industrial complex that is sucking the life out of local and state governments.  But if you accept the proposition that we need a better educated workforce then way not go a different route?

Universal education choice would cost us less than we spend now, put parents in charge of judging the end product, end the culture wars still raging in our schools and once and for all end the tyranny of organized labor in the classroom.  Is this what the good Professor has in mind?  Doubtful.  But if he is being honest about enhancing education outcomes, there is no real alternative.

Next, job training has been one of those things that sounds great and makes everyone feel good, that they are actually doing something.  The reality is far different.  Today, the U.S. spends $18 billion a year on various job training programs.  The Government Accountability Office rates most of these a dismal failure, as noted by James Bovard at the Wall Street Journal.

What if we took half of what is spent now and directed it to America’s community college network, instead of through centralized bureaucracies like the Department of Labor.  The colleges would be tasked with forging partnerships with local business to training workers for jobs that exist.  The government would pay some portion of the cost of that training with business and the college paying the balance.

Yes, the unions would be cut out of this process.  But they have produced nothing so far and walked away with billions of tax dollars.  Let’s train people for real jobs that are available now and in the near term.

We all can see the need to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure: roads, bridges and other such physical plant.  But setting up a supreme czar as Obama wants to do is insane.  Any infrastructure spending must be exempt from the toxic mandates of the Davis-Bacon Act and Project Labor Agreements.  These are nothing more than handouts to Big Labor.  This type of welfare must end.

And finally, Roubini’s call for “alternative/renewable energy” misses the mark.  Yes, America needs an abundance of cheap energy to run our factories, power our homes and businesses and provide a stable, low-cost platform for growth.  But the absurdity of the current “green technologies” fad do none of this.  They are nothing more than expensive kick-backs to campaign donors or handouts to fringe business that doesn’t have a market for what they want to sell.

America is blessed with ample energy sources.  We simply need to make the decision to develop and use what we have.  Oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy can reduce the cost of doing business in America radically.  But in order to avail ourselves of it we must first brush aside the Luddite zealots who would have us return to the Stone Age.  Why are we sending hundreds of billions of dollar every year to nations that hate America instead of using our own resources?

So, with all due respect to Professor Roubini, we can all agree on the goals of quality education, job training, infrastructure and enhanced domestic energy production.  But the way he and the other mouth-pieces of the radical Left want to achieve these goals is sure to kill us with more debt, less production and great vulnerability.

There is a far better way — free market solutions based on the principles of individual liberty, competition, and the freedom to choose.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.

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