The current recession has hit North Carolina especially hard. Statewide unemployment is 10.8 percent, fifth highest in the nation. The dramatic downturn has significantly reduced available tax revenue, creating an estimated $4.6 billion budget deficit for the coming fiscal year.
But never fear, your state bureaucrats are here to save the day! House Bill 1278 (Pierce D-Hoke) would create a “Response Team” to rescue any North Carolina county that suffers an extraordinary number of job losses.
In short, the bill would provide an “emergency response” to any county whose unemployment rate exceeds 15.5 percent for two consecutive months. Among other things, an “emergency response” includes:
- An unexplained method of “simplifying and expediting” applications for unemployment compensation and public assistance
- Education to the counties’ citizens about available retraining and educational opportunities in the region
- More intense economic development and job creation activities
- Assistance to municipal and county governments, as appropriate
The most disturbing aspect of this bill: it further entrenches the mistaken mindset that government is always the answer to all societal ills.
More specifically, this bill is poor policy because government does not create jobs. Every dollar that government spends, it first must take from individuals. Every dollar government spends on “economic development and job creation activities” means one less dollar available for private, sustainable job growth. When salaries for bureaucrats and administrative costs to collect, process an disburse the money are included, more than a dollar is taken from the private sector for each dollar of government activities.
Thankfully, a large consensus of people – save arrogant politicians – recognize this self-evident economic reality. The April 2009 Civitas DecisionMaker poll asked voters who they think is better able to create jobs. 78 percent of voters replied either “small businesses” or “large corporations,” compared to just 9 percent that responded “government.”
Furthermore, with the state government facing a record $4.6 billion budget hole, how can state government even pay for such an “emergency response”? As of March, eight counties already have an unemployment rate over 15.5 percent. Nine more counties report unemployment rates above 14.5 percent. Just where will the money come from to direct so many resources to potentially 17 counties across the state?
Because it seeks to expand government dependency, will do nothing to actually lower unemployment, and promises money the state doesn’t have, House Bill 1278 is this week’s Bad Bill of the Week.