Biden: Facts Lost in Translation

Tom Bruner
On October 19 Jason Mattera of Human Events gave Vice President Joe Biden the opportunity to clarify his assertion that rape and murder would increase if the Republicans failed to pass the president's Jobs bill.  Mr. Biden insisted that "Murder will continue to rise, rape will continue to rise, all crimes will continue to rise," without the Jobs bill.

The curious thing about this is that, at least in this country, violent crimes have been steadily decreasing since at least 1991 according to this table provided by the FBI. With a few exceptions, like 2005-2006, Violent Crime, Murder and Non-negligent Manslaughter, and Forcible Rape have gone down just about every year. Since 1991 the violent crime rate has declined from 758.2 per 100,000 population to 403.6 in 2010. The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate has gone from 9.8 to 4.8, and the forcible rape rate has fallen from 42.3 to 27.5 in the twenty-year period.

This is from the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, generally considered a highly professional organization not given to falsifying data. The numbers are available to the vice president. So, why would he say that the rate will continue to rise? One would be that he does not understand the concept of a trend, another would be that he is using a different data set. The numbers for 2011 have not yet been published and the vice president has advance information that violent crime is on the rise? Perhaps, since most of the jobs created or saved by the Recovery act were in countries other than the United States, perhaps he is referring to the violent crime rate in China?

But this is unlikely; the vice president putatively is an intelligent man with many intelligent friends. It seems most likely that the problem is that Mr. Biden and his brilliant friends apply different meanings to words that most of the rest of us thought we knew, but were mistaken. So, in his mind an decrease in violence is a increase in order, and his allies do better with less order. I never said it would make sense, but consider that his boss has extended support for this lot. 

Other examples include naming a bill "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act", when it did not, and probably could not, contribute to a recovery or improve the investment environment. Or referring to a bill as a "Jobs Bill", as if jobs could be created by legislative fiat.  Most of us understand that jobs are not created by the government, at least not jobs that create wealth. This is not to say that jobs with the police, steadily bringing down that violent crime rate, or fire departments, keeping my home from going up in flames whenever we have wildfires, or even at the FBI creating tables that help malcontents with word processors make the vice president look foolish are not valuable. They are vital, but they protect wealth, they do not create wealth.

The administration has been a veritable factory of new regulations. To be sure, many of these regulations have no impact on the economy; they are internal rules and impact how government agencies conduct their affairs. But to the extent that they do impact the private economy regulations are by nature destroyers of jobs. This is not to say that all regulation is bad, but beyond some point regulation must become stifling, and the promise of more to come surely contributes to uncertainty and therefore stifles investment.  

So another option for an easy-to-understand Jobs Bill would be "The President shall eliminate an existing regulation each business day, and shall further eliminate an existing regulation for each new regulation created or changed." Yes, that should do it.

On October 19 Jason Mattera of Human Events gave Vice President Joe Biden the opportunity to clarify his assertion that rape and murder would increase if the Republicans failed to pass the president's Jobs bill.  Mr. Biden insisted that "Murder will continue to rise, rape will continue to rise, all crimes will continue to rise," without the Jobs bill.

The curious thing about this is that, at least in this country, violent crimes have been steadily decreasing since at least 1991 according to this table provided by the FBI. With a few exceptions, like 2005-2006, Violent Crime, Murder and Non-negligent Manslaughter, and Forcible Rape have gone down just about every year. Since 1991 the violent crime rate has declined from 758.2 per 100,000 population to 403.6 in 2010. The murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate has gone from 9.8 to 4.8, and the forcible rape rate has fallen from 42.3 to 27.5 in the twenty-year period.

This is from the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, generally considered a highly professional organization not given to falsifying data. The numbers are available to the vice president. So, why would he say that the rate will continue to rise? One would be that he does not understand the concept of a trend, another would be that he is using a different data set. The numbers for 2011 have not yet been published and the vice president has advance information that violent crime is on the rise? Perhaps, since most of the jobs created or saved by the Recovery act were in countries other than the United States, perhaps he is referring to the violent crime rate in China?

But this is unlikely; the vice president putatively is an intelligent man with many intelligent friends. It seems most likely that the problem is that Mr. Biden and his brilliant friends apply different meanings to words that most of the rest of us thought we knew, but were mistaken. So, in his mind an decrease in violence is a increase in order, and his allies do better with less order. I never said it would make sense, but consider that his boss has extended support for this lot. 

Other examples include naming a bill "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act", when it did not, and probably could not, contribute to a recovery or improve the investment environment. Or referring to a bill as a "Jobs Bill", as if jobs could be created by legislative fiat.  Most of us understand that jobs are not created by the government, at least not jobs that create wealth. This is not to say that jobs with the police, steadily bringing down that violent crime rate, or fire departments, keeping my home from going up in flames whenever we have wildfires, or even at the FBI creating tables that help malcontents with word processors make the vice president look foolish are not valuable. They are vital, but they protect wealth, they do not create wealth.

The administration has been a veritable factory of new regulations. To be sure, many of these regulations have no impact on the economy; they are internal rules and impact how government agencies conduct their affairs. But to the extent that they do impact the private economy regulations are by nature destroyers of jobs. This is not to say that all regulation is bad, but beyond some point regulation must become stifling, and the promise of more to come surely contributes to uncertainty and therefore stifles investment.  

So another option for an easy-to-understand Jobs Bill would be "The President shall eliminate an existing regulation each business day, and shall further eliminate an existing regulation for each new regulation created or changed." Yes, that should do it.