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A Real Jobs Bill

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There is a jobs bill being bandied about in the U.S. Senate. As with most government-based plans, it’s political — with warm, fuzzy rhetoric that’s designed more to garner votes at the polls than to accomplish anything truly productive.

The rhetoric, as is so often the case, is based on class warfare. Let’s soak the rich, taxing them to create jobs.

This latest bill calls for a cut in payroll taxes and provides money for teachers, firefighters, the unemployed, and infrastructure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, wants to add on a 5.6 percent tax on income above $1 million to fund President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs package, knowing full well that Senate Republicans will vote that down.

There can be no denial that Reid’s idea is based on a desire to buy votes for Democrats in the 2012 election, because they will be able to say that it was the obstructionist Republicans who scuttled the bill.

According to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal,

Democrats are banking on Republicans to oppose both the higher taxes on one-million dollar earners and the president’s call for new spending aimed at reducing joblessness, leaving them open to a charge of protecting the wealthy at the expense of the unemployed.

As Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in that article, Democrats want the change in the bill, not to make it more effective or to generate bipartisan support: “No, they want to overhaul the bill to sharpen its political edge.”

As if Republicans don’t do the same thing when it works to their advantage.

But the real problem is not a matter of Democrats versus Republicans. The issue is government involvement in the job market in the first place. Try as it might, government can’t create productive, ongoing jobs, not even if the intentions are good, and no matter how much money it throws at the problem.

Government can’t create wealth or productive jobs any more than it can regulate a failing economy back to health. Previous stimulus packages have failed, and this will too.

Even big-government types know this to be so. They just rarely admit it. Consider the following:

“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before, and it does not work.” Those were the words of Henry Morgenthau, secretary of the Treasury to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Morgenthau was one of the brains behind FDR’s New Deal.

“I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. … And an enormous debt to boot,” Morgenthau said to Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee in 1939.

The same holds true today: we have more spending, more debt, fewer jobs and an economy that continues to stagnate.

A real jobs stimulus, one that can lead to true prosperity and generate real productivity and wealth can only be realized when government gets out of the way and doesn’t try to decide what businesses or industries to help.

Consider what people such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did without government help.

Jobs (along with Steve Wozniak) started Apple Computers, and Gates started Microsoft. Let’s throw in Nolan Bushnell, who started Atari after creating the computer game that started it all, Pong.

Computers have changed the way people think, work, and play. Those who have invented, innovated, and improved computing have made the rest of us more productive.

A home computer is a passport to a home business. It can be a digital darkroom, a printing press, and a motion-picture studio. Computers enable us to engage in all sorts of work, productive and pleasurable. We are limited only by our own imaginations and intentions.

It was the free market with its voluntary associations that gave us the home computer, desktops and laptops, the iPhone, the iPod, the iPad, and all the competing models and brands.

The four men mentioned four paragraphs ago made that all possible without the help of any government stimulus. But they did not do so alone. There were others who voluntarily provided investment funds so people like Jobs and Wozniak could build computers in a real plant, not just in Jobs’ parents’ garage.

Without such people, the rest of us would likely still be using a snail-paced 300-baud modem to tie into some government mainframe on a timeshare basis — if that.

Jobs, Gates, and the others also created jobs, lots of jobs for thousands of people; and their investors made money too, which led to more investment, more businesses, and more jobs.

A market freed from arbitrary government restrictions and stimuli — which choke creativity, productivity, and voluntary investment — is the greatest jobs bill going.

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    Rich Schwartzman is managing editor at Chadds Ford Live in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.