- - Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Politicians claim they create jobs. But no, they can’t. Government rarely creates real jobs. Private individuals do that, people like Mark Cuban.

Mr. Cuban had no job and no prospects when he was 24. He got rich by starting and growing companies. His creations, Microsolutions, Broadcast.com and HDNet, produced thousands of real jobs.

I know they’re real because in the private sector, jobs must pay for themselves. If they don’t, they don’t sustain. The General Services Administration workers who made videos about the money they wasted would have been fired if they had worked in the private sector. Employers with their own money at stake can’t afford such employees.

But because government uses force to take other people’s money, we have no way of measuring whether government workers produce value. Government can spend a dollar for work that returns 70 cents.

“Government’s just not very effective and very efficient at using money,” Mr. Cuban told me.

I interviewed the billionaire at his office inside the Dallas Mavericks’ arena. He bought the team in 2000 when it was one of the NBA’s worst. Within 11 years, it had won the NBA championship.

I asked him how he improved things.

He said he told his players: Work hard or I’m going to let you go.

“People said … ‘if I play for the Dallas Mavericks, Mark will reward me if I do well. And if I don’t work hard, he’s going to ship me to Upper Slobovia.’ “

Governments don’t do that.

Mr. Cuban asked his players what they needed to succeed.

“One of our guys said, ‘Mark, we get into Oakland, Calif., at three in the morning sometimes, and because we stay at a hotel that doesn’t have room service, we are walking down the street at four in the morning looking for a 7-Eleven. Is that what you want us doing?’ “

He moved them to better hotels. Then he put TVs in their lockers and made “clips of games so that players could look at their own performance, look at the teams they were playing, look at scouting reports right before a game.”

“I told them I wanted to give them tools so they can understand their professions better.”

Mr. Cuban’s own money was on the line. He tried everything he could to get a better return.

“I did the little things. … We had one guy that was 7‘6” and he was sitting in the same chair as a guy that’s 5‘8”. So we had a guy design chairs that went up and down.”

Those “little things” made a difference. Mr. Cuban worked hard to find them. Governments rarely do that.

In fact, today government destroys jobs by constantly passing new rules. For a Fox News TV special, “No, They Can’t!” we interviewed Ed Land, who owns a small farm in South Carolina. He said today’s regulations create such a financial burden that he can’t expand. He could hire 10 more people, he said, were it not for government’s incomprehensible rules.

“The entrepreneurs, give us a chance. Get out of our way and leave us alone, and we can create all the jobs,” Mr. Land said.

But government doesn’t leave anyone alone. Mr. Cuban says the bureaucrats have added so many taxes and regulations that it would be difficult for him to create today the thousands of jobs he once created.

“Now there’s so much paperwork and regulation, so many things that you have to sign up for that you have a better chance of getting in trouble than you do of being successful. … Come on, guys. You know, you want people to start business. Why make it so hard?”

It’s a good question.

John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on Fox Business Network. His new book is “No, They Can’t! Why Governments Fail, but Individuals Succeed” (Threshold Editions, 2012).

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