creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
John Stossel
John Stossel
23 Apr 2014
Privacy, Please

Scarlett Johansson left nude photos of herself on her computer. A hacker grabbed them and sent them to gossip websites. … Read More.

16 Apr 2014
Earth Daze

"The heavens reek, the waters below are foul ... we are in a crisis of survival." That's how Walter Cronkite … Read More.

9 Apr 2014
Taxing Life Away

It's tax time. I'm too scared to do my taxes. I'm sure I'll get something wrong and my enemies in government … Read More.

Uncertainty Paralysis

Comment

President Obama would do us all a big favor if he'd ask himself this: "Would I start or expand a business without knowing what regulations or taxes government will impose next year?"

If he'd just stop and ask that, he'd have a sense of what's wrong with the economy. He'd understand why a country that must create 120,000 new jobs each month just to absorb newcomers created only 69,000 last month.

Past recoveries were quicker. Something is different. What could it be?

Let's remember that the economy — which is to say, us — is already burdened by byzantine bureaucratic impositions. Every week, the feds add another thousand pages of rules and proposals for rules. Local governments add their own. My mayor, in New York City, even proposes micromanaging the size of the drinks restaurants may sell.

On top of the existing mountain of red tape, the Obama administration has piled on more, with more to come. Obamacare was less a specific prescription than a license for the Department of Health and Human Services to write new rules, lots of which are yet to be written. No one knows how the bureaucrats will micromanage health insurance.

Then there's Dodd-Frank, the 2,300-page revamp of finance industry regulation. Again, the bill left the rule-writing to regulatory agencies. Who knows what they will come up with?

Every year, Congress makes thousands of changes to tax laws. And no one can guess what will happen in 2013 if the 2001 and 2003 rate cuts expire.

There is an irresistible temptation for politicians to "do something" whenever real or imagined problems appear. The number of on-the-fly programs in recent years (from attacks on unpaid internships to Cash for Clunkers) has been astounding. This uncertainty kills job creation. If you cannot tell what will happen next week, next month, next year, why make a significant commitment? The next law or executive order might make a mockery of your plans.

America faces a humongous debt, and its trajectory is upward. If nothing changes, the whole budget would be consumed by interest payments. No politician wants that — if only because there'll be no money to buy votes.

How will the problem be dealt with? Higher taxes? Massive inflation? Some combination? Where does that leave someone today who might, in a more stable policy environment, be eager to launch some big, long-term investment project?

In the dark, that's where.

Economist John B. Taylor of the Hoover Institution summed it up aptly: "Unpredictable economic policy — massive fiscal 'stimulus' and ballooning debt, the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing with multiyear near-zero interest rates, and regulatory uncertainty due to Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms — is the main cause of persistent high unemployment and our feeble recovery."

Historian Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute calls it "regime uncertainty."

We should have learned the lesson during the Great Depression. Today's problems are nowhere close to the 1930s, but there is a similarity in Franklin Roosevelt's policy fog. Higgs writes:

"The insufficiency of private investment from 1935 through 1940 reflected a pervasive uncertainty among investors about the security of their property rights in their capital and its prospective returns. ... The willingness of businesspeople to invest requires a sufficiently healthy state of 'business confidence,' and the Second New Deal ravaged the requisite confidence ... ."

The solution? Taylor finds it in the writing of Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek: the rule of law. "Stripped of all technicalities," Hayek wrote in "The Road to Serfdom," "this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand — rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one's individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge."

If we are ever to get out of this hole the politicians have dug, we must disabuse them of the conceit that they improve our lives by spending more, guaranteeing investments or "jump-starting" industries.

Only when politicians butt out, leaving us with simple, predictable rules, can the economy grow for us all.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="http://www.johnstossel.com" <http://www.johnstossel.com>>johnstossel.com</a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
I know you're looking for a job,
And you'd be great in my small biz.
But government has dumped a gob
Of strangling red tape - sneaky tiz!
"We're here to help," gov says, all smiles,
Picking my pocket the same time,
Whispering sweet govvy beguiles,
Then back stabbing me - legal crime!
I'm 'bout ready to call it quits.
The world around has gone cuckooed.
Gov turns the screws by bleeding bits.
The little guy and gal get screwed.

Damned if I don"t, damned if I do.
So sorry Mom, I can't hire you.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Ima Ryma
Wed Jun 6, 2012 1:49 AM
What is the address to mail an article to John Stossel?
jjdhenry
Comment: #2
Posted by: jerry henry
Wed Jun 6, 2012 2:58 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
John Stossel
Apr. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
30 31 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 1 2 3
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Linda Chavez
Linda ChavezUpdated 25 Apr 2014
Patrick Buchanan
Pat BuchananUpdated 25 Apr 2014
Scott Rasmussen
Scott RasmussenUpdated 25 Apr 2014

11 Mar 2009 The Fatal Conceit

15 Aug 2012 There Ought Not to Be a Law

19 Feb 2014 Students for Liberty