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Or, at least, he tries.
In a provocative and zany post on his blog, billionaire Mavericks-owning former-internet-mogul Entourage-guest star Mark Cuban suggests a way for government to create jobs.
First, he outlines the problem:
As the Republicans and Tea-Party will tell you, we have a spending problem. The reality is that the problem isn’t how much we spend, it’s what we spend it on. Our government is not very good at funding projects/investments that generate much if any return. Our government is so overhead laden that just to get the money from the Treasury to a project automatically starts it in a hole. Plus our federal government loves to hire people. That isn’t a problem in and of itself. The problem is that they over pay and let them keep their jobs forever. A basic tenet of business is that it is rarely a good idea to borrow short term funds for long term projects or employees unless you are damn sure of the returns. Our government never is.
He identifies jobs and economic growth as the most important problem we face, and breezes on:
How is this for a revolutionary thought: Companies that would create jobs if they had more cash know who they are. Right ? If you own a company and are thinking to yourself “Self, if I could borrow or get an investment into my company I could hire X more people to grow the company/meet demand/release a new product/whatever” So rather than guessing and hoping what might happen, why don’t we let companies self identify themselves ?
And not only should they self-identify themselves as companies, they should be able to bid on Government Loans or even actual equity investments. Call me crazy, but I think we should be playing a game of “I Can Name that Tune in X Notes” re-named and reformatted as “I Can Create X Jobs for Y Amount of Money”
Seriously. Call me crazy (and Im sure many of you will), but there is no reason why we can’t quickly create a federal website that allows existing companies to say to the Federal Government how much money they need and how many jobs they can create for that money and for what duration are they committing to maintain those jobs for the money.
Okay, I’ll go first: you’re crazy. Government shouldn’t invest, or lend, or have anything to do with financing companies, whether it would “create” jobs or not. The reason the free market works is that everyone has something to lose. Once you socialize the risk of an enterprise — once taxpayer-backstopped Fannie and Freddie buy up bad mortgage securities; once public school teachers can’t be fired; once public pension benefits are “negotiated” among public pension beneficiaries — a lot of stupid and expensive decisions get made.
That’s ultimately the problem with these kinds of tech-loving, enthusiastic, let’s-build-a-website solutions: the only way they’ll work is if, somehow, those immutable laws about free market economics didn’t exist. And Cuban implicitly acknowledges this when he comes up with (inevitably) a complicated additional bureaucracy to administer his “bold” plan:
Who would be the decision makers ? I would set up multiple 5 person regional committees across the country. I’m not quite sure who would pick the members, or what their exact qualifications should be, but I can tell you what I would set as a requirement. People would only be eligible to be on the committee if they had not made a political contribution of any kind directly to a politician or to a PAC of any sort in the last 5 years. This can not be a politically dominated decision process.
And in about three weeks, the Federal Regional Committee on Federal Investment and Job Growth will look a lot like a local public school district administrators meeting.
Sometimes, when people think “outside the box” the result is something interesting and revolutionary. And sometimes all they do is remind you why there was a box in the first place.