Steve Moore tells a story about Milton Friedman traveling to Asia in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. Friedman was shocked to see that instead of modern tractors and earth-mover equipment the workers instead were using small shovels. Milton asked a government bureaucrat why there were so few machines, and the bureaucrat replied: 'You don't understand. This is a jobs program.' To which Milton Friedman replied: 'Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it's jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.'"
A more recent version of the same story is happening in Michigan, as the state ends its outdated 1976 law that requires Michigan retailers to put individual paper price tags on every item. Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney claims
that the change in the law on September 1 this year will eliminate 200 to 300 Michigan jobs.
"If it is true that government mandates can create employment and wealth, then I have a proposal. Instead of the current law, which requires businesses to have one paper tag per item, the state should mandate 10 tags per item. In fact, maybe we should up that to 100 tags per item. After all, think of how many more jobs will be created by forcing businesses to hire more and more workers to comply."