Two lines of President Obama's State of the Union address were particularly telling.
First was a vague proposal for a new retirement account or savings bond: "tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: myRA. It's a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. myRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in."
If this is a government savings bond, it's a classic statist Obama approach. Sure, people may want government bonds as some part of their retirement portfolio. But Mr. Obama seems basically to be encouraging people to avoid risk entirely, and to invest their money in the government rather than in corporate bonds or stocks. It will be interesting to see what the "decent" return is — Mr. Obama didn't say in his speech, and the Treasury Web site only promises "stay tuned" for "more information this week."
Second was this: "Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity and reduce turnover." The president was also reportedly scheduled to appear at a Costco store the morning after the speech. That argument is wrongheaded for reasons I explained earlier here; in brief, Costco's decision to pay workers more also means that it creates fewer jobs. It uses computers and customer labor to check out merchandise at cash registers, and it uses lower-paid contractors — with wages so low the workers qualify for food stamps — to sample merchandise.