If you’re as old as I am, you might actually remember when “Saturday Night Live” was funny. If so, you might recall the classic sketch, “Theodoric of York: Medieval Barber” in which Steve Martin played the village’s barber/quack doctor who prescribed the same cure for all ills: “More bloodletting!”
I bring this up because I immediately thought of that when I heard President Biden’s response to Friday’s shockingly bad jobs report. On financial news channels, some reporters had to adjust their glasses and look twice to make sure they weren’t reading the numbers wrong. But no, it was the ugly truth: Economists were expecting a million people to be added to payrolls in April, and the media had trumpeted the upcoming “blockbuster” jobs figures. In reality, the number was only about one-fourth that (266,000), and unemployment actually went up, even with the pandemic easing and the Trump economy coming back to life.
How is that even possible when we’re seeing so many stories of employers who are begging people to apply for all the jobs they need filled? Aside from continuing shutdowns in some states, there are two major reasons:
1. Nobody wants to take lower-paid jobs because thanks to the expanded unemployment benefits, the government has made it more lucrative not to work than to work. Last month, there were over 7 million jobs open, but only 266,000 people took them. In the 1990's, even Bill Clinton finally agreed to stop incentivizing unemployment and move people from welfare to work, but compared to today’s Democrats, Clinton was Barry Goldwater.
The pandemic has also convinced a lot of people that they like working from home and don’t want to go back. Or they can’t take jobs because while businesses are opening again, many schools still aren’t, and they have no child care.
2. This is one you aren’t hearing about, but I believe that many companies are concerned about Biden’s calls for more government, more regulations and massive new taxes on corporations. His profligate spending is also bringing back inflation. They must know that all of those things will drive their costs through the roof while likely hurting the overall economy and reducing their income. So why would they want to risk a lot of hiring and expansion?
Sadly, this wasn’t at all shocking to me, nor to most people to the right of center.
I warned readers for the past year about what would happen if the Democrats took control of the White House and Congress, and now it is. I’m not psychic, I’ve just been around long enough to know that when you believe in policies that have never, ever worked anywhere, trying them again isn’t going to work.
So, what was President Biden’s reaction to this warning that his never-worked-before policies are not working now? As you might have guessed, he blamed Trump and business owners; denied that paying people more not to work than to work was discouraging them from working; insisted that the report was good news, that his policies are showing progress, and that things were moving the right direction; and said this shows we need to do a lot more of the same.
And now you know why I thought of Theodoric of York: “The economy is dangerously anemic!”