Friday, November 7, 2008


I missed the last meeting of my large writing group. I heard they just talked politics and not writing. Today they mostly talked politics. I read some of Suffrage and we read two poems--one of which was political. Then most of them talked politics.

I like to talk politics with people who analyze the issues, but my writing group has an emotional approach to politics. They believe that politicians can "help us" and think in terms of good and evil.

Here is an armchair analysis, as opposed to emotion. I have heard that the president can "create jobs." Politicians could create jobs by hiring people to stand under trees to catch falling leaves. That will also destroy jobs, since the "leafcatcher" salaries will be appropriated from people who are now, with their spending, paying other people's salaries.

Private markets, left alone, can create jobs only when those workers create value for consumers. If the private market has not already created leafcatcher jobs then those jobs must not support enough value in the market to pay the workers' salaries and benefits.

The politician will create more jobs than he destroys only if government is smarter at spending your dollars than you are--if the most massive bureaucracy in existence is more smart, knowledgable, and efficient at pleasing us than we are. Alas, I am begging the question, since the answer is obvious.

This kind of analysis leads me to believe that politicians do not have much power to make our lives better. We have that power, and politicians can help us by giving us more power to act in our own interest and in the interest of others, but they cannot, by their own actions, make us better off.

Alas, few politicians want to run on the platform, "I am going to leave you alone." (I can just hear the response those with the emotional approach, "Leave us alone? Please don't! We don't want to be alone.")

The writerly types and others in the publishing industry seem oriented toward emotional, rather than analytical approaches to policy. Perhaps I will always be the quiet one in the room, since I do not want to try to convert the convinced. Policy is more of a religious matter with those folks and I do not want to try to talk them out of their religion.

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