From Steve Berryman – Contributor to the Frederick News Post – Jobless economics

The man who brought us the term “jobs saved or created,” your president, was proud of his new jobs report. A tiny recovery viewed nationally. That he was bragging based upon temporary census workers is telling.

Jobless recovery continues. A 9.7 percent unemployment rate is staying put, and there was also a 3 percent increase in productivity for the same time frame. This means that fewer people are doing more work.

In order for our productivity to increase while the total work force remains stagnant, many workers are now doing the job of more than one.

Unfortunately, this productivity gain phenomenon did not affect the labor-intensive manufacturing activities of BP Solar in time to save 320 precious jobs here in Frederick . For BP, it was mostly about the cost of labor when the once-giant contributor to alternative energy technology decided to move the jobs out of the U.S. To be fair, BP flirted with wind power as well, and to a degree lost sight of its core corporate mission.

Additionally, having Germany and Italy heavily subsidize their domestic solar panel production — where we vied for market share — played just as much of a role in these job cuts as did American cost of labor versus Chinese.

Global markets don’t just shift jobs. They can also pick winners and losers even within entire industries when not supported internally.

It was easy — for any business — to become confused in projecting hiring needs and budgets as President Barack Obama gave every indication that “green technologies” and alternative energy would receive preferential treatment in our stimulus packages to promote jobs!

One sign that solar energy support should have been more than campaign promise was that — conversely — our coal industry continues to be burdened by government regulation and lacks support, even though it is highly productive, efficient, and native to our land.

Again, job creation seems to be a minor issue relative to the feel-good politics of paying lip service to alternatives to fossil fuels.

With a stimulus or subsidy, certainly the never-occupied new building on the BP Solar campus, now being demolished, was “shovel-ready” enough to convert to other related usages … had any influential white knight such as Gov. Martin O’Malley championed the cause.

Again, it goes to the top leadership; we follow signals. Americans suffer mixed signals, and are now fully confused about planning for the future. That costs jobs, as uncertainty equals risk in business.

Today we endure “Obamanomics,” which may be fairly characterized as an end-justifies-the-means, trial-and-error method. This agenda-based political ruse will continue to stifle recovery until it is fully called out.

That classical economic theory is never used in defense of actions taken in executive branch fiat is all one needs to know about our policy travails; it’s agenda-driven, and we pay in jobs.

Jobs cannot be created within an artificial market, as is energy, without specific support or subsidy. Looming “cap and trade” legislation alone certainly kept smart business forecasting far from BP Solar.

Post-health care reform, it’s fair to assume that our current administration is fully capable of forcing through counterproductive legislation via slip-sliding arguments, as was the original justification of the Iraq incursion.

Perhaps learning from his predecessor, our president knows that the shell game works, as cover is provided to absentee congressional oversight.

And the sheep have yet to look up.


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