President Obama visited Utah, arriving last night and departing this morning. He was ferried in a plane that costs taxpayers $179,750 per hour to operate. To provide security, he was accompanied by Secret Service agents. Local police barricaded roadways and helped secure the area, obstructing the natural flow of traffic and disrupting local economic activity in the process. All of these corollary consequences of Obama’s travel come with a significant cost.
Last night, the president met with local elected officials, leaders of the LDS Church, and others. This morning, he gave a seven-minute speech in front of an array of solar panels, touting the importance of this emergent industry. In his brief address, he focused on renewable energy and announced a goal to train 75,000 workers for solar energy jobs, focusing on veterans who are transitioning back into civilian life. He mentioned that “we” must be “relentless” in adding new jobs, claiming that some 129,000 were added to the economy in March.
In short, his remarks can be summarized as a textbook example of central planning, whereby a single individual—whose claim to fame is winning a popularity contest—attempts to guide (control) the economy. The government, as any free marketeer knows, does not in fact create jobs—it can only re-allocate wealth that would have found its way elsewhere; in “creating” jobs the government slows or eliminates job growth in other areas that do not captivate its myopic, manipulated attention.
The pleasantries exchanged last night, and the talking points delivered this morning, will have no materially positive impact on the lives of Utahns, the local economy, or our future. The visit has had a negative impact, however, through the inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars and burdensome imposition on thousands of people in the name of one person’s emperor-like care and comfort.
We see bright opportunity ahead for Utah, but that future entails decentralization as opposed to the centralization Obama exhibited, and it entails removing government from the market, rather than entrenching it. Our bright future will require, and be the product of, millions of diverse people spontaneously working together for our mutual benefit, rather than the political impositions and flowery statements of an elected official. We’ve got work to do—and Obama’s visit in Utah was little more than a costly distraction.