The television in my household is often tuned into Fox News (almost never by my choosing). Through the various programs (especially The Five), I overhear constant complaints about President Obama’s handling of the economy. More often than not, I find the talking heads to be demonstrating flawed, inconsistent thinking in their complaints that are not rooted in actual understanding of economics but rather are founded on a belligerent distaste for the President.
One of the more frequent complaints I hear from the pundits is that “President Obama has overseen an unacceptably high unemployment rate and has been unable to keep housing prices high.” If one were not familiar with the pundits’ viewpoint on government intervention, this complaint could possibly be consistent. Considering the strong stance against government intervention into the economy taken by Fox pundits, however, such a complaint exhibits inconsistency for the following reasons:
Fox News pundits support the position that free markets lead to low unemployment.
I believe anyone familiar with the station in the least does not need any further proof that this is the case. Fox touts the dangers of Obama’s active government policy. They warn that he is pushing the nation closer and closer to a socialist economy which would destroy our standard of living. They take the stance that the President’s aim to centrally plan the economy is unjust and futile. They advocate that instead the President should allow the market to function by extending more freedom to individuals. They believe this will result in decreased unemployment and overall a better functioning economy.
These same pundits imply that Obama should ensure high home values to benefit homeowners.
By asserting that the President is failing by overseeing falling home values, these pundits imply that he should be doing more to push housing prices back up. This is an absurd request from someone who believes a freer market is the solution to our economic woes.
The President has overseen a historically interventionist administration. Ben Bernanke at the Fed has funneled an unprecedented amount of money into the economy in hopes to keep housing prices high. There is very little basis to complain that the President has not done enough to keep the housing market thriving. Obama’s record indicates that he has used just about every tool in his central planning tool belt to ensure sufficiently high housing prices, access to healthcare, producing jobs, etc…
The talking heads ask Obama to fix the economy by staying out of it and intervening into it at the same time.
The truth is that the President is incapable of fixing the economy through government action. If you want to promote a more limited government and expose Obama’s flaws, I suggest focusing on this truth. Petition that the President should foster a freer market where individuals can utilize a division of labor and division of knowledge to improve economic well-being.
Does it make any sense to demand the President keep his hands off the economy while at the same time chastising him for falling home prices? Should we ask him to legislate price controls for certain goods (houses) for the benefit of certain people (homeowners) while being outraged with the injustice of government activism which favors some citizens at the expense of others?
To both questions, I would give a definitive “no”. Such demands are completely inconsistent and therefore completely unfair to ask of any President. Such expectations on the President implicitly wage a war on enlightened economic understanding and veil the solutions offered by market exchange.