The White House has taken heat for assigning czars to oversee many major issues. These official czars have proven to be largely ineffective. However the most effective czar in the White House does not officially exist. The job of this Hoodwink Czar involves invention of numbers and theories to tout imaginary success of policy, and offering platitudes to downplay failure. He's a magician who gets people to concentrate on his silver tongue so they don't pay attention to his hands. The czar's stage name is President Barack 'Hoodwink' Obama.
His greatest acts of 2009 include:
Act I – Obamanomics is the real Freakonomics:
General understanding among economists is that redistributing tax revenue and destroying assets does not spur lasting growth. The czar showed his disdain for such nonsense through the Cash for Clunkers program. The idea was to help consumers exchange their old cars for new by setting arbitrary mileage rules and offering free money. To further aid growth, the perfectly working 'clunkers', i.e. assets, were destroyed, instead of reselling (to South American countries for example). Thus by simply advancing the transactions of consumers who would have bought a car anyway, Mr. Obama claims to have helped the economy and the auto industry.
Analysis of the program suggests that this scheme cost taxpayers over $20,000 per car sold and has raised used car prices. This means consumers who couldn’t afford new cars, now can't even afford used cars. Of course the czar has dismissed such reports and added Edmunds to his enemies list.
Act II - Economics can be injurious to health:
Economics dictates that if you increase demand and keep supply constant, the price should go up. Mr. Obama has decided to challenge the silly laws of supply and demand. He will raise demand for health care by bringing in millions of uninsured people into the system. Since this will not increase the supply of doctors, nurses, or hospitals, it should lead to higher prices and/or lower quality.
Obamanomics however, has a way (which only the czar knows) to reduce costs, increase quality, raise demand and keep supply constant. The plan is to reduce overall costs by taxing businesses and mandating people to buy a private good.
Constitutional implications aside, there are no details available to compare the inflow of revenue from the mandate and the cost of insuring millions. These details might make an appearance when the president comes on TV to force a jobless college graduate in Lexington to buy insurance so a former gang member in Chicago can get his knee replaced. My advice on further reducing costs: merge clinics and the DMV together.
Act III - Stimulation job:
Thanks to advances in economics under Obama, spending billions of nonexistent taxpayer dollars on random projects (volcano research, arts endowment, etc) has helped revive the economy and decrease the rate of unemployment. The White House admits that job creation has not been up to expectation but they claim to have 'saved' over 650,000 jobs. They even have a way of measuring these saved jobs down to the exact number. The official number is 640,329! Mr. Obama should introduce the nation to Mr. 508,541 and Ms. 640,327 to motivate discouraged job seekers.
Common sense suggests that, short of companies sending Mr. Obama a weekly list of employees that they would have fired but did not, it is impossible to measure saved jobs. Luckily common sense and Obamanomics are mutually exclusive.
Assume, for argument's sake, that these numbers have not been pulled out of the nether regions of the human anatomy. It still means that each job cost over $165,000 (real cost is around $220,000). Imagine what an American entrepreneur could do with $200,000. Alas, this is unacceptable to Mr. Obama, because the government would be out of the equation. The president does not believe in such non-governmental private sector job creation. He also does not pay much attention to tangible numbers like the double digit unemployment rate and the thirteen digit deficit. Details like that interfere with the suspension of disbelief required to truly enjoy the illusion.
To be fair, The President did show his concern for the 'sobering number' of job losses by offering this gem; “My economic team is looking at ideas such as additional investments in our aging roads and bridges, incentives to encourage families and business to make buildings more energy efficient.” I knew it! Those unemployed bums should have insulated their homes properly if they wanted to keep their jobs. Having solved the jobs problem, Mr. Obama then headed to the Capitol to push health care. The stimulus/saved job con is the Hoodwink Czar’s greatest trick yet.
Mr. Obama's last show of the year is scheduled for December in Oslo to a full house of starry-eyed Scandinavians. Look for a dazzling display of useless platitudes, childish idealism, and self-congratulation. Next year the Hoodwink Czar will perform at the Capitol during the State of the Union Address. He will feature an additional neat trick where the the Candidate transforms into the President for a couple of hours.