There are problems the solutions of which lie way down the chain, or ladder of possible actions we might take to solve them. For example, my oversleeping. The solution to that problem is myself, or perhaps the person or people with whom I am living, all of us at the very bottom of this ladder.
We wouldn’t think (although they be some who would, even in this instance) of going to government, —local, state, or federal— for help with that.
There are other problems, the solutions of which lie way up at the top of the ladder of possible steps that might be taken. Our country was attacked by terrorists, resulting, on one particular terrible occasion, in the destruction of the twin towers.
To prevent future such happenings we wouldn’t go to the bottom of the ladder, to the local police department for example, but directly to one or more of our national organizations high up there such as the Department of Defense, the FBI, or CIA.
Governments, our government, President Obama at the moment, have always struggled with the problem of deciding just when it is primarily the role of government to take action.
Struggled because, in fact, there is always a difference of opinion between those in Washington and those out in the localities as to with whom or with what the responsibility for finding a solution primarily lies.
Take the problem of the current high unemployment level of 9%, that which just about everyone is talking about. Unfortunately most of the talk is way up there, at the top of the ladder, about what the government, could or should do to get more people to work —the jobs speech by the President just the other day being an egregious example of this.
In regard to the unemployment problem government answers range from providing hundreds of billions in additional stimulus monies (Paul Krugman), to making it easier for entrepreneurs to obtain bank loans to expand their businesses and hire additional workers (Joe Nocera).
But if there is a solution, and based on our economic history there probably is —for the economy has always come back from a recession— what can be done to help bring it about? It probably won’t come, as it never has in the past, from government actions.
A Newsweek cover story suggests that this problem, as innumerable others, will best be solved, and is in fact being solved, by leaving the solution or solutions up to the people at the bottom of the chain, by leaving it to the localities to come up themselves with what needs to be done.
For new jobs, good jobs, “permanent” jobs will mostly come from individuals who decide to hire new workers in order to develop their own business plans. Government jobs, while we can make them, such as with the tens of billions of dollars the President would give to state and local governments to hire laid off public employees, will last only as long as the monies themselves.
But let’s not leave government entirely off the hook. Government should and could help by getting out of the way and therefore making things easier for entrepreneurs to get started.