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Letter to the Editor - Jan. 26

January 26, 2012

Phrase, ‘government can’t create jobs’ is a bedrock truism

To the editor:

Allan Powell begins “Five conservative myths” (Jan. 13) with that hoary fallacy known as “attacking a straw man.” To attack a straw man is to subtly misrepresent the other side just enough to make for an easy knockout.

You have heard the phrase “government can’t create jobs.” Powell calls that a myth and correctly points out that police officers, food inspectors and public school teachers hold jobs created by the government.

But the phrase “government can’t create jobs” does not deny the existence of government-paid workers. The phrase means that government cannot create more jobs than would otherwise be created without the government’s “help.”

A myth? Far from it. “Government can’t create jobs” is a bedrock truism for any number of unassailable reasons.

If the money that government extorts through taxation to fund a government-paid job would have created 1 1/2 or two or 10 private sector jobs, is that job creation or job destruction?

If government takes control of a job that already exists — teaching, for example — has it created anything?

If the job of the government employee is to swamp private sector employers with bureaucracy and red tape, making it expensive, risky, difficult and/or painful to hire, doesn’t that result in a net loss of jobs?

Finally, if a government worker produces goods or services that few people want or need, is the nation better off for it? From 1897 to 1996, tea tasters sipped tea on the taxpayers’ dime. The Board of Tea Experts employed people, sure, but was that the best use of the financial and human resources involved?

Is government ever the most efficient user of financial and human resources?

G.F. Miller

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