And explaining the costs and uncertainties as a result of government.
He is trim and white-haired and bursting with energy. He’s proud of the business he has built: not large by the way things are measured these days, but certainly successful. He shows me sales figures, award citations, stories from trade magazines. I congratulate him, then turn to the window and enjoy the view for a bit.
. . .
He tells me that it doesn’t much matter which party is in office. Every change of power means a whole new set of rules to which he and those like him must respond. ‘‘I don’t understand,” he continues, “why Washington won’t just get out of our way and let us hire.”
. . .
He reflects for a moment, then finds the analogy he seeks. “Government should act like my assistant, not my boss.”
. . .
On the way to my connection, I ponder. As an academic with an interest in policy, I tend to see businesses as abstractions, fitting into a theory or a data set. Most policy makers do the same. We rarely encounter the simple human face of the less- than-giant businesses we constantly extol. And when they refuse to hire, we would often rather go on television and call them greedy than sit and talk to them about their challenges.
. . .
Recessions have complex causes, but, as the man on the aisle reminded me, we do nothing to make things better when the companies on which we rely see Washington as adversary rather than partner.
Why even an assistant? We need a culture of freedom, to stop thinking of government is a problem-solver, to stop thinking government can provide services such as health care for no cost, no ill effects, and no unintended consequences.