Like Me Choreographing a Ballet

I often respond to various articles that a group of politicians are going to create a strategic plan** for the local economy that this is similar to my trying to choreograph a ballet .  TJIC has similar words for this effort:

Governor Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray plan to propose this week several ways to improve the Bay State's business climate, saying they need to be more aggressive in steering the region out of its economic malaise.

Both have lifelong careers in non-business sectors (government, academia, journalism, legal, non-profit).  TJIC responds:

Asking them to design programs to better the business climate is about like asking me to design menstrual pads "“ I don't understand the sector, I don't understand the features, I don't understand the problems, and there's no way that the effects of my work will ever come back to make an impact on me.

This is reminiscent of this great comment from Kevin Williamson  via Instapundit

The good news is that, when it comes to reshaping the U.S. mortgage market [any market for that matter "” ed.], the Obama administration's top guns are bringing to bear all of the brisk, rough-'n'-ready entrepreneurial know-how they picked up in their previous careers as university professors, nonprofit activists, and holders of political sinecures.

But we are spending more and more to get this "expertise", as documented in a depressing post at Carpe Diem on the growth of government employment and salaries.  One chart out of many:


** Footnote:  About once a month we get some group lamenting that Phoenix has no master plan to create some kind of economic focus for itself.  One of the hilarious things about this is that if you go back and look, about half of the past proposals have Phoenix focusing on some super-hot industry (e.g. semiconductor manufacturing, e-commerce) that is just about to crash.  Lately, everyone has decided that Phoenix should be the center of the solar industry, because, uh, we have a lot of sun, without any particular explanation of why having a lot of sun should be an advantage in precision manufacturing and assembly of solar components.  But we are shelling out all kinds of tax breaks and subsidies for these companies to come here.  My prediction - solar will be the next ethanol.  In ethanol, increases in government subsidies caused a lot of manufacturing capacity to be built.  But subsidies could not grow as fast as capacity, and a glut resulted in a huge shakeout.  The solar boom will occur when a technology is perfected that makes solar economic without subsidies.  When that occurs, I will be the first in line to cover my roof in the new tech.


  1. DrTorch:

    Phoenix as the center of solar industry? What about the large presence already in Tucson?

    Anyway it does make sense for AZ to be big into solar (as opposed to someplace like Toledo, OH) for two obvious reasons:

    First, you reduce costs of transport to the region of the highest demand/use.

    Second, you can troubleshoot and test new innovations in real-world conditions. For example, at one time it was observed that the desert heat can cause optical coatings to peel off from the Al panels of solar thermal systems. That's a phenomenon that you probably don't observe if you do your field tests in the pastureland of the recovered Great Black Swamp.

    However, instead of offering incentives to particular industries, why not just keep taxes and regulatory requirements low? Then many industries will come to your area, including those based on your region's inherent advantages (such as solar industry in AZ) providing a better opportunity to succeed.

  2. Will Sawin:

    Markets are so efficient, aren't they? They build more supply than there is demand because they can't predict what's so obvious to you - that subsidies have quantity limits (specifically, limits not literally specified in the legislation, right?) An efficient market could get it wrong the first time - history is not a convincing argument before it happens. Getting it wrong twice is the sure sign of a market failure.

  3. IgotBupkis:

    The spam filter being used here is a complete piece of garbage.