The Trouble With Sorcery

Obama’s magic isn’t working.

This week, the Saudi government executed a woman they accused of being a sorceress.  This marked the 73rd beheading this year in Saudi Arabia. Liberals who call Rick Perry a monster for sanctioning the execution of 13 murderers in Texas this year yawn at the multicultural exoticism of the sheikhs who wield axes in the desert.  If only Perry spoke Arabic and threatened to kill Jews, or performed regular clitorectomies rather than mandating Gardisil, or chopped people’s heads off with a large sword rather than using lethal injection, he’d perhaps be less morally objectionable.

But the execution of the alleged sorceress in Saudi Arabia raises another question.  If there are such people able to conjure why don’t we save them from death and bring them over here to practice a little white magic on our financial system.

For three long years now, we’ve been practicing financial sorcery of our own with incomparably more evil consequences than anything these alleged desert witches have accomplished.   Conjure money out of thin air and hand it to poor people, and voilà: phantom jobs.  Ratchet up spending by turning one dollar bills into hundred dollars bills, and abracadabra: the deficit’s been decreased.

How does any of this work?  Who knows?  Like any good sorceress, the Obama administration will never reveal the secrets of their dark art.  They will, however, claim the disappearance of jobs on their watch has been an illusion.  When Obama waves his hand again, we’ll get the prestige: the jobs will reappear.

In fact, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, sneered at Gretchen Carlson of Fox News: “You just said the unemployment rate is going up since Obama took office, and it hasn’t … Unemployment is nearing right around where it was when President Obama took office and it’s dropping.”  Obama has apparently convinced his supporters that his magic is working—the magic of magical thinking.

The real unemployment rate in the country – the rate based on the number of people working in 2007 – is at 11 percent.  Even Obama supporter Ezra Klein of the Washington Post had to admit, “Remember that the unemployment rate is not ‘how many people don't have jobs?’, but ‘how many people don't have jobs and are actively looking for them?’ Let's say you've been looking fruitlessly for five months and realize you've exhausted every job listing in your area. Discouraged, you stop looking, at least for the moment. According to the government, you're no longer unemployed. Congratulations?”  As Klein points out, if you count those who are underemployed – people who are working less than full time jobs – the real unemployment rate is actually “near 20 percent.”

A little bit of financial sleight of hand, and 20 percent becomes 11 percent becomes 8 percent. Huzzah! … I guess.

Economics is not nearly as complicated as our brilliant Washington D.C. minds say it is.  It is not an art requiring the ability to read the chicken entrails spilled by the accountant on the third floor of the Department of Labor.  Successful economics is about providing incentives to the individual to produce more goods and services that other people want to consume.  That’s it.  Anything that quashes those incentives hurts the economy; anything that boosts those incentives helps the economy.

But liberals have a stake in turning government into sorcery so that they can get their way while mystifying the people.  Actually, that’s the entire basis of liberal government over the past hundred years: don’t try governing at home, kids – leave it to the professionals.  That’s how we end up with the odd notion that the president of the United States “runs” the economy.  It’s a misnomer embraced by members of both parties.  When Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Obama say they will “create jobs,” the answer is: no, you won’t.  We will, if you leave us the hell alone.  Government is there to stop people from stealing our money.  It’s not there to turn our sow's ear into a silk purse.

While we continue to buy into the perverse fiction that the real sorcerers out there –those who staff the administrative agencies that control our lives – we’ll give up our liberties and our freedoms.  What’s worse, we’ll act as though if we just get the right sorcerer in office, he’ll do the trick.  Like the villagers of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we’ll search for a witch who weighs the same as a duck, and is therefore made of wood.

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