Sunday, November 30, 2008

How to Create Jobs

Leave us alone!

Even the WSJ seems to be on board with what sounds like a very Keynsian plan to "Build infrastructure to create jobs and stimulate the economy." The press releases sound more and more perversely Atlas Shrugged-esque, with talk about creating a post called the "economy-czar" (at least colloquially) in addition to the nationalizations that have already occurred and the ones that are scheduled to occur in January. Who is John Galt?

Funny, as I was typing this I realized a totally unconscious parallel to my own personal plans. I've been talking for the past few weeks of getting my life ordered such that I can support myself on very little money, maybe take some time off to travel the continent. My romantic vision has me following the summer on my motorcycle, guitar strapped to my back, shipping my few necessary possessions from destination to destination in trunks. I'd finally have the time to read the stack of books I've compiled for myself, I could spend lots of time improving my musicianship, and I'd have the opportunity for adventure that a routine lifestyle doesn't offer. I'd also plan on developing some of my ideas on AI into more serious research projects.

To stay engauged and give it structure, I could plan my trip around different conferences that are happening accross the continent, as well as taking classes at universities where I stay for the quarter.

The parallel is that that's exactly the sort of thing the heroes of Atlas Shrugged did, though I didn't have the book consciously in mind at all when I was conceiving the plan. The men (and women) of the mind refused to shoulder the burden of the collapsing society and retired to private lives, living simply and pursuing their passions without the benefit of using societal infrastructure.

Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, in part, to keep the scenario in it from becoming real. Ahh, well
... is it time to strike yet?


Matthew J Peterson said...

I think a big difference is that these companies are not being seized by the government. The companies are tanking themselves with unwise decisions, and then reaching to the government for a life-raft. This is corporate welfare, not welfare for the poor. Not that it still isn't royally irritating.

TJ Murphy said...

Au contraire; AIG was seized. Fannie and Freddie were already implicitly government "sponsored", so I dont know if its accurate to call that situation seizure, but it amounts to the same thing. The bank lending deal was structured in a way that even healthy banks had to accept the government's help, whether they asked for it or not. The idea was that if the strong banks didn't accept the same help as the failing ones, the ones that took the help would be perceived as weaker, which would trigger a run on those banks and cause their failure (making government help wasted).

But you're right, its just as bad (and just as Atlas Shrugged-esque) when companies go begging for the government to save them from their mistakes.