There was a recent flap because three different members of the Obama administration, on three different Sunday television talk shows, gave three widely differing estimates of how many jobs the president has created.
That should not have been surprising, except as a sign of political sloppiness in not getting their stories together beforehand. They were simply doing what Barack Obama himself does — namely, just pulling numbers out of thin air. However, being more skilled at creating illusions, the president does it with more of an air of certainty, as if he has gone around and counted the new jobs himself.
The big question that seldom — if ever — gets asked in the mainstream media is whether these are a net increase in jobs. Since the only resources that the government has are the resources it takes from the private sector, using those resources to create jobs means reducing the resources available to create jobs in the private sector.
So long as most people do not look beyond superficial appearances, politicians can get away with playing Santa Claus on all sorts of issues, while leaving havoc in their wake — such as growing unemployment, despite all the jobs being “created.”
Whatever position people take on health-care reform, there seems to be a bipartisan consensus — usually a sign of mushy thinking — that it is a good idea for the government to force insurance companies to insure people whom politicians want them to insure, and to insure them for things that politicians think should be covered by insurance.
Contrary to what politicians expect us to do, let’s stop and think.
Why aren’t insurance companies already insuring the people and the conditions that they are now going to be forced to cover? Because that would mean additional costs — and because the insurance companies don’t think their customers are willing to pay those particular costs for those particular coverages.
It costs politicians nothing to mandate more insurance coverage for more people. But that doesn’t mean that the costs vanish into thin air. It simply means that both buyers and sellers of insurance are forced to pay costs that neither of them wants to pay. But, because soaring political rhetoric leaves out such grubby things as costs, it sounds like a great deal.
Costs are not the only thing left out. So are consequences in general.