Christine Romer is no longer advising Barack Obama on the economy. That’s OK, President Obama is now well-versed in the job of POTUS. He can give the economy an overly violent hernia check all on his own. He doesn’t need no stinkin’ economist.
If this morning’s job report is an accurate barometer of future trajectory, we won’t need them much longer either. Bartering is nowhere near as complex as calls, puts, and leaps. You require a functional currency, before you even care what Dr. Romer once wrote about economic multiplier effects.
Unlike Joe W. at Business Insider, I don’t equate Romer walking with just the humiliation of going on HollyOrk’s Idiot Box and lying about a poor job number. I work as a cost estimator and have had to defend dodgy numbers that were the best I could do. Sometimes you get contradicted, other times, you know exactly what an overly violent hernia check feels like. Dr. Romer is a grown woman, she’ll do what I would do in that situation – take two Advil’s, down the adult beverage of choice, and look back on how good she has it overall.
Unlike Joe W, I also don’t equate the jobs number with what’s truly at fault with our current economy. I think the more telling symptom of our current malady became obvious recently in Portland, Oregon. A little girl had the unmitigated gall to run an unlicensed lemonade stand. The peasants could get citrus intoxication from this! The MIB quickly shut it down. The perpetrator’s whereabouts remain unknown at this time. (I was just kidding, they didn’t actually detain her. It’s a shame that our current governmental zeitgeist necessitates that I explain that the stuff about her physical safety was just a joke.)
This zeitgeist of anti-enterprise extends far beyond just one girl and her lemonade stand. It has become a pervasive mentality. They are the government, they have the ball, and they are driving like a turbo-charged steamroller towards the regulatory end zone. Yes we can! No you can’t! BigGovernment.com gives more examples.
In Philadelphia, it is illegal to talk about the Liberty Bell for money without permission from the government. Unlicensed tour guides are subject to hundreds of dollars in fines for talking about the place where the Declaration of Independence was written.
In Texas, eyebrow threaders are getting hit with $2,000 fines. Bureaucrats expect threaders with up to 20 years of experience to immediately stop working and spend approximately $20,000 obtaining 1,500 hours of instruction from government-approved beauty schools that do not even teach threading.
In Maryland, Mercedes Clemens was threatened with thousands of dollars in fines and criminal prosecution unless she stopped . . . massaging horses. The state’s veterinary cartel said only veterinarians could work in the growing field of animal massage. All practitioners were forced to attend four years of vet school, where massage is not even taught, or shut down their businesses.
Until IJ filed suit, it was illegal in Louisiana to sell and arrange flowers unless you had permission from the government. You had to pay for a special license, which required you to take a test that was graded by existing florists. When IJ first filed suit, it was harder to pass the flower test than to pass the Louisiana bar.
This leaves me utterly convinced that the unemployment problem isn’t driving the economic malaise. It is part of the apparatus being driven into a tree. It is a symptom, not the illness. The illness is the hostility of our current regime to individual effort and achievement.
As a result of our government attempting to control too much, it ultimately succeeds in controlling nothing at all. The Politboro on The Potomac issues its diktats, but by the Law of Unintended Consequences determines the results.
Like the astronaut in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Christine Romer, and the other tinkering technocrats, keep trying to give commands and pull levers only to watch weird and undesirable things happen to the economy. “Open the pod bay door, Hal.” “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that.”
A powerful, accomplished and intelligent woman like Christine Romer could not function in that sort of an environment. Like Jean Baptiste Clemenceau, in Albert Camus’ The Fall, she would have to let it go to keep from pulling her hair out. Her cheese not only got moved, it got eaten by rats.
Thus, the economy suffers from overregulation the way a non-linear partial differential equation can be subject to sensitive dependence on initial conditions. You tweak one boundary, turn the knob a little too far, and it all blows up. When there’s a rule for everything, you no longer know what they all mean.
Does that woman massaging horses in Maryland pose a threat to the economic commonweal – as opposed to say, AIG or Goldman Sachs? Our fearless regulatory state has its head so far ensconced in let us just say minutiae that they really can no longer tell. At that point, you just have to stop pushing buttons. That, I think, is what Christine Romer finally decided to do.