The August 13, 2012 issue of Time examined the financial implications of the 2012 presidential campaign. Letters to Time’s editor printed in the August 20, 2012 issue noted, among other things, that the money spent on presidential campaigns, particularly the 2012 edition but possibly generalizable to other elections, could have been used to create jobs. It might be argued that different spending creates different kinds of jobs in different locations, but it seems that most spending on most elections directly or indirectly employs somebody somewhere. With all the conversation about jobs moving offshore, it might also be interesting to see how much election-oriented spending stays in the United States to employ residents of the U.S. rather than employing residents of other countries.
During this election cycle and the previous one in the U.S., pundits frequently expressed the desire to end the U.S. military’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and, almost in the next breath, proclaimed the need to fix unemployment. Some pundits added the need to reduce government spending and to make government agencies more efficient. Reducing the number of service members deployed would seem to eventually reduce the number of people serving in the military and reducing government spending would seem to rather quickly result in fewer government workers; in both cases, wouldn’t unemployment probably rise as a result of both actions?
It seems that the only way to reduce government-related payroll, whether civilian or military, and government spending and not increase unemployment is to create a coordinated, comprehensive plan to stimulate sustainable job creation that is synchronized with implementation of a strategy to improve efficiency of government services and reduce government payroll. Treating them as unrelated would seem to offer dire consequences for unemployment and the economy.
Klein (2012) encouraged President Obama to redouble his efforts to reduce the budget deficit and the national debt. Klein noted that the Simpson-Bowles plan received minimal support in part because it was not comprehensive enough to allow anybody to ascertain the consequences. It seems that politicians frequently vote for legislation that leaves too much to chance or unwritten future laws and policies. Perhaps one of the challenges of governing the United States in 2012 is that the systems and structures have grown too complex and too intertwined for simple or straightforward solutions to practical problems. As demonstrated by the attempt at comprehensive healthcare reform, it may also be that attempts at comprehensive legislation also do not get read by those who vote.
The United States still seems to have the best system with the most peaceful regime change in the world, but sometimes it surely seems that a better way must be out there somewhere.
Klein, J. (2012, August 20). The trouble with Simpson-Bowles. Obama has tried to reduce the long-term deficit, but he should try harder. Time, 180(8), 19.
Various authors. (August 20, 2012). White House for sale. Time, 180(8), 4.