Every now and then someone inadvertently says something that is truer than intended. Such is the case with a quote that appears in Robert Samuelson's column today.

The piece is devoted to bemoaning the reduction in entrepreneurship which Samuelson somehow thinks is tied to slower job creation. (This relationship is pretty damn weak, but no reason to waste time here.) At one point Samuelson list five possible reasons for the decline in entrepreneurship. Number one is:

"Schools — K-12 plus colleges and universities — aren’t turning out enough skilled workers. 'I have jobs,' said one Texas entrepreneur. 'I just don’t have the talent to fill them.'"

This entrepreneur is likely closer to the mark than he or she realized. The way you find skilled workers is by offering higher wages than your competitors. There are undoubtedly people in the country who have the skills that this entrepreneur needs. If he can't get them to work for him then obviously he is not offering a high enough wage, or as he said, "I just don't have the talent to fill them."

Of course it is possible that this entrepreneur could not afford to offer a high enough wage to attract the skilled workers, but then he really doesn't have the jobs. This would be like someone complaining that they couldn't get a doctor to treat them, without noting the fact that they were only willing to pay $30 an hour. The problem in that case is that the person is unwilling to pay the going wage for doctors.

This story is about as simple as economics gets. If there were a shortage of skilled workers then their wages would be rising. As it is, there is no major group of workers who are seeing rapidly rising wages, therefore it is not plausible that there are shortages of skilled workers.

The problem is likely just what Samuelson quotes the entrepreneur as saying, he lacks the talent to properly run a business.

(Btw, if Samuelson is really looking for causes for the decline of entrepreneurship, the collapse of anti-trust enforcement should probably be on his list.)

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