Posted on | January 26, 2011 | 32 Comments
— photo via Instapundit
“In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”
— President Obama, State of the Union Address
“Countless,” as in: You won’t be able to count them, because they exist only in my imagination.
Why does the president say things like this? The political appeal of Obama’s Magic Clean Energy Job-Creation Machine is that it shifts the burden of proof into the indefinite future. Government will “invest” however many billions of tax dollars into this technology and — Trust us, we’re experts! — it will “create countless new jobs” eventually.
This is the Economics of Assertion: Expecting people to accept a promise about future results based entirely on the authority of the person making the promise. Action X will produce Result Y because I said so!
Leaving aside common-sense economic objections — e.g., if there is genuine market demand for these technologies, why aren’t companies investing their own money to develop them? — people won’t buy into Obama’s “countless new jobs” promise because his past performance doesn’t justify that kind of confidence.
Why is this lack of confidence in Obama’s ability as an economic prophet not reflected in a flash-poll showing a general approval of the president’s speech?
According to the poll, which was conducted online by Knowledge Networks immediately after the president’s address, 91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks.
“Those who watched the speech,” of course, were far more likely to be Democrats than Republicans. And the poll was “conducted online” — what percentage of voters were online late Tuesday night? Not me. I went to bed early and didn’t even watch the speech.