It's Official: The Left Is Out of Ideas

With a little over a year to go until the next national election cycle is complete, it has become apparent that from an economic standpoint, the SS Liberal has officially run out of steam.  Hull weighted down with the barnacles of false promises and rudder crippled by the reckless mismanagement of a spendthrift captain from Chicago, she sits there floundering in a sea of unemployment and malaise not experienced since Jimmy Carter was at the helm.

And despite all the rosy window dressing provided by the beaming ship attendants of the mainstream media, who pretend to be shocked every time another leak opens up, we passengers are fully aware of our surroundings. 

CNBC reports that the private sector job market is still shrinking, with employers announcing over 37,000 more job cuts this month.  That's up nearly 2% since April.  In addition, Forbes reveals that home prices have dropped to their 2002 levels, falling another 4.2% in the first quarter of 2011.  David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices, released a chilling statement that, "This month's report is marked by the confirmation of a double-dip in home prices across much of the nation."

Any rational person hoping that we were righting our economic ship knows the words "double-dip" signify the exact opposite.  Of course, not all numbers are down.

Government statistics show the number of food stamp recipients is at an all time high -- up 39% since Barack Obama took office.  And though things are lean in the private sector, it's never been a better time to be employed by the federal government.  Beyond just salaries soaring to the point where roughly 77,000 federal employees are making more money than state governors, a new study has found there has been a 73% increase in the amount of federally owned limousines to cart our central planning VIPs through the streets of the peasantry.

Along those streets, it's a different story.  Bloomberg reports that as jobless claims jumped another 10,000 last month, "more Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the labor market is struggling to gain momentum." 

With economic numbers like these, it's no wonder that liberal commentators are advising Barack Obama -- the man who got elected as the anti-war president -- to run for re-election on his record as a war commander.  Still, some left-wing economists aren't ready to give up the ship.

Take Paul Krugman, the intrepid little socialist and Nobel laureate who writes for the New York Times.  Faced with the abject failure of the very excessive government spending he has promoted as the solution to our economic woes, Krugman's allegiance to Keynesian Obamanomics nevertheless remains undaunted.  That might be admirable if it wasn't so foolhardy.

His recent column is the best evidence yet that when it comes to stimulating economic recovery, the left is simply out of ideas.  Far from innovative, creative, or progressive, Krugman actually proposes bringing back one of the greatest failures of FDR's New Deal.  He writes, "We could have W.P.A.-type programs putting the unemployed to work doing useful things like repairing roads -- which would also, by raising incomes, make it easier for households to pay down debt."

For those unfamiliar, the Works Progress Administration was a controversial policy of the 1930s to put unemployed people to work doing various construction projects just so the government could give them a paycheck.  Yes, sometimes that meant doing constructive things like building roads and highways.  But more often, it included boondoggles like hiring one group to go out and dig a ditch, while hiring another to come through after them and fill in the ditch.  The object was to put people to work so you could pay them -- the job they were doing was not important. 

Did the WPA work?  Nope.  When FDR initiated it, unemployment was around 20%.  Three years later, unemployment was around 19%.  In the intervening 75 years, most rational people have figured out why it failed.  Government jobs are paid from the general tax revenue that is created and produced only by the private sector.  Thus, a plan like the WPA did nothing to generate prosperity, but rather merely allocated what was already there.  Once the ditch was dug or the road resurfaced, the job disappeared and we were right back to where we started.

Not to mention that such a program cost an enormous amount of money to maintain.  As our private sector continues to shrink under the backward policies of this administration, I'm not sure where Krugman thinks we will find the money to finance more government workers. 

Yet this futility is all that remains in the left's idea bag.  The only thing that is unclear is whether Americans will recognize it. 

As much as we should, the danger comes in the reality that liberals have been rewriting textbooks and ingraining an anti-capitalist, pro-socialist message in the minds of America's youth for decades.  The extent to which they have been successful will be determined by whether our nation decides to chain itself to the deck of this Obama-piloted Titanic, or do the smart thing and abandon ship.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email, visit, or like him on Facebook.

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