What can we do to help commerce? the French finance minister asked a group of businessmen in the late 17th century. The reply became famous — was, indeed, the snappy comeback heard ’round the world: “Laissez-nous faire!”
Let us be; leave us alone.
Or: Get out of the way! No onerous taxes, no playing favorites with subsidies or regulations or “protection.”
It’s unlikely that President Obama keeps the works of the French Physiocrats, or later “political economy” writers, by his bedside. Speaking before the Chamber of Commerce recently, he enjoined businessmen to “hire and invest,” “get in the game,” etc.
“Ultimately,” he explained, “winning the future is not just about what the government can do to help you succeed. It’s about what you can do to help America succeed.”
Stop dithering! Hire!
But what competent capitalist, enjoying a huge and lasting increase in demand, and having the means to hire new employees to help meet it, would refuse to do so? Obama speaks as if “helping the economy” were the point of getting staff. No. One hires to produce, sell and make money. This does “help the economy”; it is the economy. But companies only hurt themselves and the economy if they hire persons not yet needed just to “win the future.”
Responding to Obama’s remarks, Harold Jackson, CEO of Buffalo Supply, says it’s “a little outside the bounds to suggest that if we hire people we don’t need, there will be more demand.”
A little? Understatement.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.