Friday, September 16, 2005

More thoughts on Bush's speech

Previous: A speech about big government and why we should love it

I was telling a friend, to paraphrase Bastiat, what was said and what was not said in Bush's address earlier tonight.

President Bush spoke of "vulnerable people left at the mercy of criminals who had no mercy," but he did not speak of law enforcement forcibly disarming people of firearms, making them easier for criminals to victimize. Those herded into the Superdome were especially easy prey, just as Capital Freedom predicted.

President Bush praised the "Coast Guard and other personnel [who] rescued tens of thousands of people from flooded neighborhoods," but he made not the slightest reference to Louisiana's Homeland Security Department and National Guard keeping the Red Cross and Salvation Army from entering New Orleans to help directly with relief efforts.

President Bush mentioned religious groups, but not the Southern Baptists turned away by the Mississippi Highway Patrol, because the road was supposedly too dangerous.

"We need to know who you are, because many of you will be eligible for broader assistance in the future," Bush said. As I've said before, government measures the success of its social programs by the numbers served, not by actual results. So isn't it wonderful that the federal government set up a toll-free line for all victims to call, even if they may not need help? Hurry to get your share!

A very stupid thing about the rebuilding efforts, though, was when Bush said something that sounded nice but is economically fallacious: "And in the work of rebuilding, as many jobs as possible should go to the men and women who live in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama." Why are local people preferable for hiring? As in all other cases, shouldn't the jobs go to those who will do the best job for the least cost? That's just another form of protectionism.

I watched the speech on the Fox News Channel, which afterward had a roundtable hosted by Brit Hume. There were a couple of pundits, but also Charles Krauthammer, who was brilliant. What struck me, though, was former Louisiana Rep. Bob Livingston's practical grasp of economics. He explained to Alan Colmes and Louisiana Senator John Breaux that we can't just pay people "fair wages," i.e. high wages. It sounds good, but there's only so much money to go around, and high wages mean some will be employed while others are not. Then he said, "The free market works pretty good." Bingo, give that man a cigar.

The transcript of the speech can be found here. Much was said, but an equal amount was not said. Unfortunately, too much was said about what big government can do.


Blogger jjayson said...

Re: "As in all other cases, shouldn't the jobs go to those who will do the best job for the least cost?"

Besides Bush's cruddy economic advisors, I think this is also a reference to the suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act. Those displaced in NO were predominantly black and poor. The suspension D-B will help them enter the job market b/c they are the least cost. That is, as long as other union-bought state regulations don't get in the way. I think Bush is also trying to distance himself from the budget worriers who supported the suspension of the Act too. He would rather it be seen as a way to help minorities earn employment (by lowering the regulatory barrier and removing a wage floor), than as a way to save money.

Friday, September 16, 2005 6:43:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

While it's a nice thought to employ those who are the most poor, it doesn't necessarily benefit society. Someone might be the least cost to employ, but they may not have the best output. Henry Ford discovered this with "efficiency wages." It wasn't a minimum-wage principle at all, but offering enough to attract the best workers.

At least Bush has promised to get the funds from other spending. He says there's pork we can trim. But if there's pork we can trim...why didn't we do it before? Does he not have veto power?

Sunday, September 18, 2005 1:58:00 PM  

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