In 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger stated that he was going to become California’s job czar. Six years later, Californians are still waiting for those jobs. On January 6, 2004, the Governor made “jobs, jobs, jobs” his first priority with unemployment at a modestly elevated 6+%. On January 6, 2010, the Governor once again made “jobs, jobs, jobs” his first priority with unemployment at a dismal 12+%. Despite the confident declarations and good intentions, 1.1 million more Californians are unemployed since 2004, and this does not even take into account those individuals who have given up seeking a job or who are working part-time hours, despite the preference to work full-time. Simply put, Schwarzenegger’s (and the legislature’s) jobs program has proven an abject failure.
A similar theme appears to have played out at the federal level this past year as well. The Obama administration predicted that its $787 billion stimulus bill would cap rising unemployment at 8.1%, yet unemployment stands at 10.0%. Just last month, another 85,000 Americans lost their jobs. Like Schwarzenegger, Obama posited that public works projects would stimulate job growth, but thus far, the results have been severely lacking. Now, both Obama and Schwarzenegger are advocating green industry subsidies in a bid to create tens of thousands of new jobs, but if recent history serves as any lesson, at both the state and federal level, green jobs will likely not materialize to any significant degree, and government debt will continue to rise.
This less-than-stellar reality should prompt the independent voter to view government stimulus programs with a more skeptical eye. Job creation is about results, and over the last six years, in California and the United States, government programs have failed to deliver. Proponents, however, often point to FDR’s “New Deal” as evidence that significant government intervention is necessary to slay unemployment. While total unemployment reached as high as 25% during the Great Depression, the unemployment rate averaged a painful 17% throughout FDR’s tenure, hardly something to brag about. Even FDR’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, had this to say in 1939: “We are spending more money than we have ever spent before, and it does not work…I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started and an enormous debt to boot.”
With this in mind, I would like to submit the following questions to independent-minded voters across the political spectrum:
If you lean toward government action to stimulate job growth, what type of novel policy would you advocate?
If you lean toward a more private sector solution to stimulate job growth, what type of strategy would you propose?