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Let’s Stop Asking Presidential Hopefuls to Create Jobs

“Beginning with you, Secretary Clinton, why are you a better choice than your opponent to create the kinds of jobs that will put more money into the pockets of American workers?”

This question, asked in one of the 2016 presidential debates, has been asked in various forms and posed to various candidates for as long as I can remember and it has always caused me immediate and severe frustration. I’m not a big sports fan… but if ever there would be a time that someone might walk into my house and find me yelling at the TV, it would be in the moments after this question was asked of a politician.

The only answer that would satisfy me would sound something like, “I plan to cut literally every piece of red tape that gets in the way of people providing for themselves and their families in the ways that they deem best. Also I’d get rid of the income tax.”

Of course there’d have to be some type of caveat about “…so long as their actions don’t harm others or cause them to not be able to provide for themselves and their families in the ways that they deem best…” Lucky for me, I’m not running for office, so I don’t have to have the perfect answer—but you get my point.

This question, and others like it—so seemingly innocent and even appropriate—have paved the way for massive usurpations of power and for eliciting the support of the people in ever-expanding presidential roles and government involvement in our daily lives. The idea that someone running for the office of president has the right or responsibility to create jobs is ludicrous. And yet here we are.

A few months ago, I wrote about the government’s tendency to engage in political theater—giving the appearance of being sharply divided and critical of the other “team” while actually working together quite nicely to usurp our rights and extend its power. Through all the ups and downs of every presidency I’ve witnessed, I’ve never seen the government get together to limit itself, or to give more power to the individual in regards to their livelihood. I don’t expect that I ever will.

I think it’s safe to assume that in this next election cycle, we will see the same “jobs” question posed to the candidates. And like every candidate before them, those vying for the “top job” in the land will have long lists of ways that they plan to use the government to create jobs, or encourage job growth, or enact policies that force people to do business in one way or another.

But none of it is going to mean anything real, because the only viable way to centrally plan or control jobs from a federal level is to merely get out of the way and let people have the freedom to act in their own best interests.The Scottish economist, Adam Smith, got it right when he observed that people free to act in their own self interest will eventually act in the best interests of the greater public good.

Centrally planned economies, centrally controlled job markets, centrally run education systems—they all have the same outcome: high cost, limited choice, and eventual failure.

When I wrote The Tuttle Twins and the Road to Surfdom, I played on the title and theme of Nobel Prize winner F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. In my book, Ethan and Emily learn that often times, when people petition the government to do something for them, they end up with a bigger mess than they started with. The unintended (and often intended) consequences of centrally planning rarely ever yield the results that people hope they will, but they nearly always cause hardship for those they are supposed to be helping.

A better idea would be for us to stop asking the government to do things for us that we could be doing for ourselves. I’d love to see a day when the only thing we petition the government for are rollbacks and repeals of bad policies and overreaching practices. Until then—more Tuttle Twins!

— Connor

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Textbooks don't teach this; schools don't mention it.

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