On Tuesday the PG’s editorial page writers were adamant in arguing that Congress and the President take dramatic actions to accelerate growth job. Decrying the awful state of the job market and lack of employment gains, the editorial said the time for political bickering must be set aside. Unfortunately, the calls for action do not ask Obama to offer up any rollbacks of the regulatory nightmare that has been created since he became President. How the writer expects the business world to shake off the impacts of the reduced return on investment and the higher levels of risk produced by the piling on of new regulations is not made clear.
Amazingly, one day later, the same editorial page offers up a sharp criticism of Obama’s decision to delay for a couple of year a job destroying EPA plan to lower the ozone level standard for a couple of years. The editorial argued that opponents’ claims the tighter ozone standard would create billions in additional business costs was an old rerun of the argument that a cleaner environment is the enemy of economic prosperity.
The problem with the editorial position is that ozone levels have fallen significantly over the last two decades, locally and across the country (California remains the poster child for serious ozone problems). Moreover, if the EPA’s desired reduction in the standard of 75 parts per billion to a range of 60 to 70 parts per billion were imposed at say 65 parts per billion, virtually every county in the country with suburban levels of population density would fail to meet the new standard-based on the latest EPA data. Locations in the northern tier of Western and Midwestern states will not be slapped with a non-attainment ruling. Hawaii will also escape the impact.
In short, with the new lower level standard in hand, the EPA would be in a position to go after any company contributing to ozone levels. The negative impact on new investment as well as current and future jobs would be substantial at a time when job creation is at a standstill.
The irony is that the cleanest air in any of the lower 48 states in terms of ozone concentration is in the 50 parts per billion range. So the EPA and the editorial writer are willing to do untold damage to the economy in an effort to get every monitoring station to within 15 to 20 parts per billion of the lowest readings currently being taken. The efforts to get everyone under the current ozone cap are costing enough already. Check with California where environmentalism reigns supreme and many ozone monitor readings are routinely100 per parts billion or higher. The EPA’s effort is designed simply to continue expanding its power.
For the people supporting the EPA, the costs imposed by what they do are irrelevant. Their objective is zero pollution beyond what nature itself creates. Although, if they could sue Mother Nature they would take a serious look at doing so after a volcano or earthquake throws out pollutants.
It must be the time of year for some to engage in the kind of intellectual vacuity that represents total abandonment of reason. The Keystone Research Center just released a study purportedly showing Pennsylvania’s employment situation to be worse than the 7.4 percent current unemployment rate depicts. Fair enough. Everyone who follows the labor market knows there are lots of folks who are underemployed or have dropped out of the work force because they have become discouraged. That is not news.
But come on. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is well below the national average-for several reasons. First, because the state has been such a slow performer for many years prior to the recession and did not have a housing boom as did many states, the housing induced downturn was not as dramatic in Pennsylvania. Second, the industry mix of jobs in Pennsylvania has changed substantially over the decades away from goods producing jobs that are subject to recessions toward industries that are more recession resistant. Third, the state is in the midst of a booming growth in the natural gas business thanks to Marcellus Shale that is greatly improving the labor situation.
There is no mention in the report of the reasons Pennsylvania has been a perennial slow growth state. That list would include punitive anti-business labor laws, lawsuit abuse, environmental regulations, business taxes, prevailing wage requirements and a generally unfriendly business climate.
But the report does have recommendations on how to grow jobs. More government spending, especially on infrastructure, extending jobless benefits and job training.
How predictable. Government spending of money the state does not have to create prevailing wage jobs to support union workers. Job training to do what? To learn how to work on roads that are in endless need of repair?
Not a word about addressing the obstacles to growth in the state. There is no talk of Right to Work, ending teacher strikes, eliminating prevailing wage and getting environmental regulations under control. In short, this is nothing more than the failed policies that have crippled Pennsylvania’s economy for decades. It is stunning to see how resistant to facts and reason some people can be.
In a statement about Governor Corbett, Richard Trumka (head of the AFL-CIO) proves that even union bosses have a sense of humor. Trumka accuses the Governor of not spending enough to create jobs in Pennsylvania and upbraided the Governor for his unwillingness to raise taxes. What makes this so funny? Simple. The union movement which Mr. Trumka now heads has done more to destroy jobs in Pennsylvania and it continues to press for policies that will worsen the business climate further.
By pushing for card check, ever higher minimum wages, opposing the elimination of prevailing wage laws, opposing the greatest freedom enhancer of all, making Pennsylvania a right to work state, and supporting nationalized health care, the union leader wittingly or unwittingly is creating a reluctance of companies to invest and grow their businesses.
Unions live in world where economics is about using power to subvert the laws of the free market and competition. But even worse perhaps, in union economic thoughts there is no recognized role for, or respect for, the entrepreneurs who create the products that create the jobs union members feel entitled to. Indeed, much of what unions do-with the help of their handmaidens in government-is to strip away the rights and privileges of property owners and entrepreneurs necessary to carrying out the critical role of generating dynamism and growth in the economy.
In short, the union mentality is one of unbridled selfishness that cares not a whit about its effect on the general welfare as long as the senior members of the union are taken care of. What’s worse is that the laws of the United States and many individual states take a strong position in favor of the unions and against the people who hire the workers. So, reading that Mr. Trumka is offering economic advice to the Governor evokes some hilarity.