I felt the need to highlight this piece, not only because Democrats have been hailing and will undoubtedly continue to hail ObamaCare as a “job creator,” but because the very misleading notion that the federal government is always a necessarily effective “job creator” ranks among my biggest pet peeves of all time. On a very technical and superficial level, sure — this is all perfectly true. From the National Journal:
Cottage industries always crop up after the passage of major legislation, and the 2010 Affordable Care Act is no exception, notwithstanding GOP predictions that it will be a job-killer. Businesses are hiring lawyers to interpret new rules, consultants to advise them on how to adapt to new regulations, and even dinosaurs to tromp around drugstores. …
The cottage industries are part of the “on the other hand” narrative. They fall into three general buckets:
-The coverage-oriented category, which includes call centers set up to answer questions about the law and in-person navigators and “assisters” who will help sign people up for insurance coverage. (The law requires all states to have navigators; assisters are required only in the seven states that are running exchanges in partnership with the federal government. Both are government-sanctioned helpers tasked with spreading awareness of the law and helping people enroll for coverage; they perform basically the same tasks, although states have some flexibility to define the roles and required training for each.)
-The technology jobs needed to launch insurance exchanges, manage the federal data hub, and provide better digital performance measures for health care providers.
-The typical cottage industries that follow any major piece of legislation: the lawyers, consultants, and former administration and congressional staffers who are now advising companies on how to deal with the new rules and regulations.
“On the other hand,” nothing. Claiming that ObamaCare is causing the same sort of productive job-destruction and job-creation that goes on in the private sector is like saying we should keep our tax code convoluted so that we’ll all need to enlist accountants with dedicated tax expertise into our employ in order that their jobs be preserved. If that were the case, why not just purposefully make the tax code more complex while we’re at it instead of less, and then “create” even more tax-accountant jobs? Hell, if we really want to get some job creation going, let’s just muster up every miniscule regulation we can think of to such a degree that dealing with all the red tape requires new cottage industries with necessarily specific proficiencies for everything! Great idea, right?
Wrong. We could enact new programs and regulations to beget cottage industries and inspire entrepreneurs and appoint more public-sector workers ad infinitum, but that wouldn’t do much to contribute to a truly robust employment scenario, would it? Making needless toil for ourselves and calling it “job creation” is getting into “the broken window fallacy” territory all over again: That which is seen, and that which is not seen.
There are opportunity costs to the expenditure of any resource, and just because ObamaCare is consuming resources does not mean that they are being used in the most productive and efficient ways possible. What would/could/should all of these thousands of workers/companies/local governments being doing with their time/money/assets if they weren’t devoting it all to coordinating ObamaCare? More productive and useful activities that contribute to a more muscular prosperity replete with more and better-paying jobs, rather than meeting artificial market signals injected by the federal government from the top down? Maybe? (And please do not try to argue that, in this time of bleak employment, we need whatever types of jobs we can cook up — seeing as how overbearing and centrally-planned programs and policies from the administration, like ObamaCare, are exactly what’s weighing the economy down and encumbering the growth of our net prosperity.)