Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:
GE’s Jeff Immelt’s and American Express’s Ken Chenault’s essay on how the President’s Jobs and Competitiveness Council – on which these CEOs serve – will create jobs and “improve America’s competitiveness” is little more than a whoop-tee-do of proposals designed to titillate policy-wonks in ways that sexting porn stars titillate certain Congressmen (“How We’re Meeting the Job Creation Challenge,” June 13). It prompts many questions, such as:
Among their Council’s few (potentially) sensible proposals is that America be made a more attractive destination for foreign direct investment. If this proposal succeeds, one result will be a higher U.S. trade deficit. Will Messrs. Immelt and Chenault then explain to politicians and the American public that the higher trade deficit should be celebrated rather than decried?
Messrs. Immelt and Chenault identify “construction, manufacturing, health care and tourism” as being among those U.S. industries that their Council wishes to promote. Are they aware that propping up specific industries involves shrinking others? How will government officials weigh the policy-induced gains in these and other favored industries against losses in, say, IT or forestry? And what if it turns out – as it very well might – that expanding employment in their favored industries can be done only by forcing those industries to adopt less-efficient but more labor-intensive production methods? Will Washington then applaud the higher employment in these industries? Or will it decry these industries’ loss of ‘competitiveness’?
Donald J. Boudreaux
Note that in the letter I resisted pointing out the hilarity of having the CEOs of two companies that each received billions of dollars in government bailout funds holding forth on how to make America more “competitive.”