I have seen economists termed “growth fatalists” for the fact that we don’t believe that there is much government can do to change underlying economic fortunes. Greg Mankiw posted a quote that summed up the position well:
Politicians are in charge of the modern economy in much the same way as a sailor is in charge of a small boat in a storm. The consequences of their losing control completely may be catastrophic (as civil war and hyperinflation in parts of the former Soviet empire have recently reminded us), but even while they keep afloat, their influence over the course of events is tiny in comparison with that of the storm around them. We who are their passengers may focus our hopes and fears upon them, and express profound gratitude toward them if we reach harbor safely, but that is chiefly because it seems pointless to thank the storm.
If I’m honest, I think that the belief that government can create growth magically stems from the fact that people want to feel like they have control of things – economic growth is something that impacts upon our daily lives that we have no control over, but if we can tell ourselves we have control it is easier to live our lives.
In the same way our forefathers would worship the sun, or a “god of the harvest” our modern society worships government policies that “will provide economic growth”.