July 10, 2016


Why 'socialist' Obama is more of a free marketeer than Trump (James Pethokoukis, July 8, 2016, The Week)

[A] clear-eyed view of Obama shows not some power-mad redistributionist, but a leader pushing the sort of pro-market economic reforms that the GOP's own presumptive presidential nominee should be suggesting. [...]

Free marketeers everywhere, I implore you: Compare that populist policy agenda to what's been coming from the left-wing, pro-trade Obama White House in recent months.

First, Obama is calling on states to pass reforms that would reduce unnecessary and overly broad occupational licensing. Nearly one-quarter of all U.S. workers need a government license to do their jobs, up from fewer than five percent in the 1950s. These costly rules reduce job opportunity, wages, and geographic mobility. For instance, according to the Institute for Justice, the average cosmetologist spends 372 days in training vs. 33 for the average EMT.

Second, the Obama administration is developing a set of "best practices" that will help state legislatures address the misuse of non-compete agreements. Nearly a fifth of American workers have contracts barring them from working at a competing employer within a certain period of time after leaving their current job. Research suggests noncompetes reduce worker bargaining power and stifle innovation. The success of Silicon Valley may be due in part to California not enforcing such contracts, making it easier for techies to start businesses and spread their know-how to existing firms.

Third, Team Obama continues to point out how excessive or unnecessary land-use or zoning regulations hurt economic mobility, worsen income inequality, and damage economic growth. Laws restricting housing supply make housing more expensive -- such as in high-productivity, high-income cities such as Boston and San Francisco -- and make it harder for workers to move to where the good jobs are. Only high-income workers can easily move to these places, "which reinforces existing inequality," as CEA Chair Jason Furman recently noted.

You'll have to look long and hard to find those clear-eyed...

Posted by at July 10, 2016 10:30 AM