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Jewish World Review / Sept. 29, 1998 /9 Tishrei, 5759

Walter Williams

Can Clinton run the economy?

SUPPOSE SOMEBODY SAID evidence of Clinton's good job performance is the fact that the sun rose every morning and rivers flowed to the ocean during his administration. I would hope that every American, even those with the dimmest of wit, would respond by collapsing in uncontrollable laughter.

Why? No person possesses that kind of power. You say: "So what, Williams? We know that. What's your point?" The point is that an economy is far more complex and mind-boggling than the behavior of the sun and rivers will ever be. If a person can't control the sun and river, he can forget about controlling the economy.

Think about it. There are 260 million Americans. Among ourselves, we make trillions upon trillions of transactions. In order to run the economy in a way that makes for a healthy, growing economy, Clinton has to know a lot about us.

For starters, he would have to know our wants and what we're prepared to offer in exchange for having those wants satisfied, not to mention having to know our skills and abilities.

Take Williams for example. During Clinton's presidency, I landed a fun job team-teaching a course at Grove City College (which is, by the way, an excellent, civilized college). I'd like someone to tell me precisely how Clinton created that job for me.

First of all, did he know that I wanted the job? How was it possible for him to come upon that information? Did he know I had the skills sought by Grove City College? Did he call Grove City's president, Dr. John Moore, and tell him to create a job for Williams? Did he send Moore money to pay my salary and transportation costs?

You say, "Williams, that's silly; there's no way Clinton could have that kind of information about you or anybody else!" I agree 100 percent, but if it's impossible for Clinton to have the information and the job-creation tools that account for my prosperity, not to mention information about 260 million other Americans, how can he possibly lay claim to and take credit for my prosperity or anybody else's?

As far as the economy is concerned, presidents and Congress have little power to do good, but immense power to do evil. To the extent it can be said that a president and a congress are doing good for the economy, that "good" is they are not doing evil.

An example of not doing evil, which explains part of today's prosperity, is Clinton's failure to get Congress to go along with his early efforts to nationalize our health-care system -- an agenda that would have put one-seventh of our economy under government control. Another example is the Clinton administration's failure to get Congress to enact a BTU tax -- a measure that would have raised the cost of production and made us as non-competitive as Europe. In other words, it's the failure of the Clinton administration to get Congress to enact much of his big-government agenda that accounts for our prosperity.

Clinton says he's responsible for balancing the budget, which contributes to our prosperity. That's a lie, aided and abetted by the public's constitutional ignorance. The United States Constitution grants only Congress authority to tax and spend. The president can propose or veto tax and spending measures, but he cannot tax or spend one dime that Congress does not first appropriate.

The bottom line is we Americans put too much faith in politicians, and too little faith in ourselves, to do what's necessary for growth and prosperity.


9/25/98: Liberals and the constitution
9/17/98: Clinton and future presidents
9/11/98: Donate or sell organs
9/03/98: Common Sense vs. Experts
8/26/98: Mother Nature's unfairness
8/24/98: The pretense of superiority
8/13/98: Yours or mine?
8/05/98: I do my job well, so that means I can....
7/29/98: Education production

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.