innovation used to spill over from military and corporate laboratories to the consumer market, but lately this process has gone into reverse. Many people’s homes now have more powerful, and more flexible, devices than their offices do; consumer gizmos and online services are smarter and easier to use than most companies’ systems. . .Notice the Economist’s quiet dig at Obama-type industrial policy, the idea that innovation begins with big government (or big business—“military and corporate laboratories”)? As George Will recently pointed out:
government of the sort progressives demand — supposed “experts,” wiser than the market, allocating wealth and opportunity by supposedly disinterested decisions — is not just susceptible to corruption, it is corruption. It is political favoritism with a clean conscience. [emphasis added]Elsewhere, Will added:
It is conservatism, not liberalism, that takes society seriously. Liberalism preaches confident social engineering by the regulatory state. Conservatism urges government humility in the face of society’s creative complexity. Society — hundreds of millions of people making billions of decisions daily — is a marvel of spontaneous order among individuals in voluntary cooperation.Will makes such a crucial point. Devolve decision-making to the lowest possible level, and society captures the grandest possible aggregate of intelligence, expertise, and self-interested commitment. Get government out of the way. Here’s Reason’s Deirdre McCloskey’s caution with her simple definition of a job:
Jobs are deals between workers and employers, and so “creating” them out of unwilling parties is impossible. The state, though, can outlaw deals, and has.Government can’t create jobs, but it can kill them. We are, as Joel Kotkin tells us in “Politico,” living through an awful, job-crushing period:
The situation [has been terrible] for small businesses — with serious consequences for job creation. The number of start-ups with employees — the traditional source of new jobs — has dropped 23% since 2008. Most entrepreneurs, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, expect the job market to weaken and unemployment to stay high for the foreseeable future.Kotkin blames the president, then suggest a remedy:
the administration displays relatively little support — and passion — for the many middle-income Americans who depend, directly or indirectly, on industries like oil and gas, warehousing, construction and, except for the bailed-out auto firms, manufacturing. . .The Steve Jobs experience. The advice of many non-progressives, liberals in the word’s original, Jeffersonian meaning. Liberate a billion wealth creators. China. India. The U.S. too.
So how best to [encourage] serious economic growth beyond Wall Street[? With a] flatter tax system with fewer exemptions, limiting trusts and foundations and ending the preference for capital gains[, forcing] the wealthy to re-engage the economy. They would have fewer ways to hide their money. Sweep aside both subsidies for oil and gas companies and the renewable industry, regulate sensibly and market forces can drive exploration and development.