According to the official labor statistics we have 12 million people currently unemployed in the United States who are looking for work. That doesn’t account for untold numbers who are “underemployed” or who have simply given up looking. The President made an effort to push that issue as the major theme of his State of the Union Address yesterday, that and his concerns about income inequality. Will his ideas work and are they even reasonably logical?
I think one of the major things to recognize is that income inequality is a reality of life. A doctor who spends 9 years and a quarter million dollars to prepare for his career is going to make much more than a high school dropout who often can’t make it to work because he is so hung over. I think you’ll all agree with that. When it comes to those who invest money to make money, the inequality is even more apparent and inevitable. Do we require that those who gamble at the Casino and win give away their winnings to make others who lost not suffer? Stock market investment works much the same as gambling in that the outcome is unpredictable.
So the rich who can invest are likely to get richer and the poor who buy lottery tickets are likely to remain poor. Those in the middle will transition one way or the other depending on their life choices, most likely. I know I am making huge generalizations here and engaging in stereotypes, too. Sorry. Still, there is validity to it all in some measure.
So with these depressing truisms, what is the answer? Can government fix everything by taking money away from the rich and giving to the poor things they haven’t earned? Will that ultimately bring about any long term change? Will raising the minimum wage to ten or fifteen dollars an hour do anything but raise the price of goods that you have to buy with that same ten or fifteen dollars?
I think it is all foolishness. We have built an economy based on producing products at the cheapest price possible and using machines (that we buy made with Chinese labor) rather than people to do the work. Is it any wonder there are fewer jobs on farms and in factories? The private sector small businesses are the ones creating the majority of jobs these days, and they depend heavily on skilled labor and attractive tax and cost incentives.
I think the answers to our problems are not in more government programs and interventions, but rather less of that. We already have some of the highest business taxes of any of the developed countries in the world. Perhaps government should think of getting out of the way, deregulating some and taxing less so private enterprise can grow and prosper. As an example, requiring small businesses to provide health care to their employees, especially plans to unmarried males that offer abortion coverage is just plain senseless…and that’s only one example of your government in action. Filing your personal income tax is a nightmare of conflicting regulation and bureaucracy, can you imagine what it is like for a business? The state of New York is trying a new approach by offering businesses a tax free zone to set up shop…of course it’s a limited time offer with more of the same old tax gouging down line a few years later, so it may not work. Perhaps it is time to consider scrapping traditional taxation and putting taxes on some portion of your "consumption" instead.
What we really need are programs that result in educating people in jobs that are actually in need in the economy! We need schools that are not just factories for politically correct opinion. We need families that don’t impoverish themselves by multiple divorces and single parent households. We need lower taxes that will help businesses flourish rather than creating ever more burdensome regulations that often don’t even make a lot of sense.
“I’m from the government and we’re here to help” just isn’t always the answer anymore.