High Unemployment Is a Price Our President Is Willing to Pay
7:30 PM, Jul 8, 2011 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
One reason there are few jobs for teenagers is a new regulation that prevents companies from taking on unpaid interns, positions that traditionally provide youngsters with their introduction to the need to be on time and having had sufficient sleep to work for a full day. Another is that the regulators have prevented drilling for oil and gas at the cost of what the oil industry estimates is 100,000 jobs – pleasing the environmental lobby, and carrying the Obama transformation of the energy sector another step towards the elimination of fossil fuels.
Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is signed on to the transformation agenda. Wind and sun are to replace fossil fuels and nuclear. Last week Jackson tightened restrictions on coal-fired power plants, while another agency is preventing the opening of a facility for the storage of nuclear waste. Jackson also plans to tighten regulation of all sorts of emissions in what the greener-than-green New York Times describes as “a flood of government mandates that will strike particularly hard at the manufacturing sector…”. Edward Whitfield, Republican congressman from Kentucky and a member of important energy committees, charges that the EPA is “just going full speed ahead with minimal attention … [to] job impact.”
The president wants to double fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, a move that would result in a $25,000 fine for every purchaser of a Mercedes automobile. Bill Visnic, an analyst for a car-research firm, told the Wall Street Journal, “To do something like this is essentially putting them out of business here.” Bad news for over 3,000 workers in Mercedes’ Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant.
Not to be outdone in the job-stifling race, the National Labor Relations Board is challenging Boeing’s right to open a new plant on the ground that the company is merely trying to transfer jobs from its unionized plant in the state of Washington to South Carolina, a “right-to-work state”. Executives with whom I spoke on a recent visit to New York tell me that this challenge to the right of a company to pick the most profitable place in which to locate a new plant is making them hesitate before investing in a new facility. The NLRB, composed of three Democrats and one Republican, is also considering a change in the rules governing union-recognition elections to make it more difficult for employers to get their arguments before their work forces. This is clearly Obama administration pay-back for union support.
Then there is Obamacare, which leaves small businesses wondering what their health care costs will be in the future. The optimism index of the National Federation of Independent Businesses has declined for three successive months, and 70% of small businessmen responding to a US Bancorp survey cite uncertainty as the reason they have no plans to expand their staffs in the next twelve months.
It is easy to blame the headwinds against which the economy is struggling on Japan’s stricken nuclear plants, or the weather. But the real, gale-force headwinds are coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.