Living in Manhattan, I get funny looks when I say I would prefer the president of the United States not be an intellectual. New Yorkers think we're smarter than everyone else, and we'd like our president to be smarter than everyone else, too. I wouldn't. I don't care which books he's read or which Ivy he attended. It doesn't matter whether he got a perfect score on his SAT, if he went to law school, or whether our European friends find him enchantingly brilliant. In fact, the less Europeans like him, the better.
Intellectualism in public office gets us phrases like "jobs created or saved" as a benchmark for measuring economic success. Any uneducated person with a little bit of street smarts knows there's no way to measure that we spent X amount of money to "save" Y amount of jobs. It simply makes no sense. Furthermore, anyone who has even the slightest interaction with the government knows that it doesn't "create" anything, particularly jobs. Getting in the way of job creation — that the government knows how to do.
The phrasing was mocked, and the Obama administration stopped using it, but the problem isn't really in the phrasing — it's in the reality that we are spending stimulus money on nothing. It's hard to keep up with just how much we've spent on this unstimulating "stimulus" boondoggle. And don't worry, liberals: I blame George W. Bush just as much as I blame Barack Obama. Both tried to save their own political skin by wasting our hard-earned tax dollars. And while only one is considered "smart" by people who don't matter, they both took the intellectual approach to the economy instead of the gut one. In the article linked above, just one of the stimulus bills spent $787 billion to "create or save" 640,329 jobs. I'm bad at math, but that's over a million dollars a job. To put it in a way that will actually matter to New Yorkers: Our income fell for the first time in 70 Years. And that's with the government "helping."
There's a reality show on TV right now about scrap metal workers in Brooklyn. I'm awfully fond of the show, and not just because it takes place in and around my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, or because the guys on the show are so authentic and endearing. I really appreciate the work ethic portrayed on the show and the simplicity of their economics. These guys didn't go to Harvard, but they know they have to take in more money each day than they spend. It's just that simple. They know that a successful day ends with money in their pockets, as small an amount as that may be. President Obama and the rest of our freewheeling, free-spending politicians should watch the show. It'll simplify for those "smart" people what Americans need from them. It doesn't involve complicated language, or showy ads. It's reigning in spending, quitting the pretense that the government can be involved in job creation, and letting the American people keep more of the money we make. It isn't rocket science; let's stop pretending that it is.
Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at http://www.alarmingnews.com and about life in the city with her husband and baby at http://www.212baby.com. She can be followed on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/karolnyc