Obama outlined new government programs in his State of the Union speech the other week. But they won't work, I argue in my syndicated column this week:
The president bragged about creating "our first manufacturing innovation institute" in Ohio and says that he will create 15 more. Politicians claim actions like this are needed to solve the "decline of manufacturing" in America. John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Pat Buchanan also fret about this. But what they call "decline" is myth. There is no decline in manufacturing.
The Federal Reserve says that U.S. manufacturing output is up from 2000, and up almost 50 percent from 1990. Yes, manufacturing employment is down because automation and government's labor rules led companies to automate and produce more with fewer employees, but that's OK.
Manufacturing jobs are no better than other jobs. Few parents today prefer their children work in factories rather than offices.
When the need for people in one type of industry decreases - say, making wagon wheels - they are freed up to work in other areas... Workers who lost factory jobs found new work in the fast-growing service industry. Creating software, movies and medical innovation is just as valuable as manufacturing and often more comfortable for workers.
Getting government out of our way is real way to improve the economy.
Instead of announcing 15 new "manufacturing" hubs, the president should just announce 300 million "do whatever you want with your own money" hubs. Then American citizens can do as they please.
For more examples of misplaced faith in government, the full column is here.