Economy / Politics

Obama the Central Planner

 By Logan Albright

A number of recent announcements from the White House continue to emphasize the fact that Barack Obama simply doesn’t understand how a market economy functions. Undaunted by the Solyndra fiasco and similar failures, the president persists in his belief that it is both appropriate and wise to use government resources to prop up some industries at the expense of others.

In an announcement on Tuesday, the Obama Administration announced plans to encourage economic growth in rural communities across the country. One of these proposed initiatives involves directing federal agencies to purchase more products constructed from agricultural, as opposed to chemical, components. This is not an economic plan, it is a political one.

The briefest pause for rational thought reveals that shifting purchasing from one sector of the economy to another does nothing to help the nation as whole. It is merely another example of the president redistributing wealth from industries to he personally dislikes to those (markedly few) that he deems worthy. Rather than letting markets decide which products are good and deserving of spending, Obama thinks that he knows better, and has no qualms about using his powers as chief executive to impose his views on the rest of us.

This is far from an isolated incident. A week earlier, the president delivered an address pushing his “insourcing” plan to return jobs to America. Once again, this is a politically popular slogan that amounts to little more than the president manipulating the tax code to reward companies he likes and punish those he doesn’t. Yet another example can be found in his proposal to levy a minimum tax on profits earned overseas by American companies, announced earlier this week.

Such is Barack Obama’s hubris that he regards his own judgment as superior to decisions made by Americans in the form of hundreds of millions of transactions a day, transactions which convey tremendously detailed information to firm and investors at a rate that cannot possibly be matched by any one man.

The government cannot continue to pick winners and loser as it sees fit if we hope to have any kind of competitive economy in the future. The failures of central planning have been well established by history, and the fact that this president is planning via taxes and regulations rather than by the heavy handed fiat of a Soviet Premier makes no difference in terms of outcome.

It is only a matter of time before firms like Boeing and Gibson grow tired of being bullied, threatened and censured, not to mention being continually forced to submit to the increasingly unreasonable demands of big labor, and decide to relocate to a country with a more hospital business climate. That is, if they are not driven completely out of business first.

A bad economy hurts all Americans, regardless of political persuasion, and if the president thinks he is doing his constituents a favor by actively persecuting private sector jobs creators who do not fall in line with his agenda, he is sorely mistaken. By putting politics above the good of the country, he is insuring a darker future for all of us, Republicans and Democrats.

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