Jobs

Barack Obama on Labor Day

I was going to skate past Thursday and not comment on this big jobs speech that President Obama is going to deliver tomorrow, but then @caroljsroth tweeted this morning:

I want to know what #jobs creation efforts/policies you are looking for as a small business owner. What would incentivize smallbiz to hire?

Oh, crap! I took the bait and replied:

Guaranteed customers. Seriously, that’s what I want.

I know, I know, it was flippant and snarky but it was what bubbled up on my brain at that exact moment. And I just blurted it out. I think a lot of other small business people are thinking the same thing. Washington and the media keep asking the wrong damn questions.

Here is the small business reality: Yes, we know that by hiring someone, that person will then spend money into the economy and eventually, when there are lots of other small businesses hiring, that will create more demand for the goods and services we provide. We get that. We really, really get that.

Theoretically.

But on a practical level, we’re all sticking our heads out the store front, not seeing any potential customers and saying, “I’m not gonna try it; you try it.” just like the Life cereal Mikey commercial.

In the back room, the banks — who have nothing to lose because they will get bailed out — are pressuring us for personal guarantees on any loan we sign. If I am the first to stick my neck out and nobody else follows, it is MY house and MY car and MY retirement fund that I will lose. And my government will not give a puppy’s pooch about me. Same with the SBA and other government-backed loan programs. Modern-day natural selection.

But back to the original question.

The president will most likely do some tax policy deal. Ugh. Tax policy tinkering never works for small business because the only thing we hear is the ear-piercing screaming of our CFO who just got back from a workshop learning about all the changes to the tax code from the last time Congress messed with taxes. Yeah, we all hate paying taxes, but taxes are a sign of success. If you make money, you pay taxes. If you spend money, you pay taxes. If you are neither making nor spending money, taxes don’t matter; even if they are set at 100%. 100% of $0.00 is still $0.00! Congress can’t give us a big enough tax incentive to hire anyway, so just quit trying. Please quit trying.

Policy change #1: Quit farting around with the tax code. When you make these “deals” it only sounds like someone is getting screwed somewhere. And that someone be us. Leave it.

Put your money where your mouth is. US government, YOU hire people to do stuff. Start with writers, artists, sculptors, filmmakers and musicians to create works open to the public. If we see that work, chances are people you are paying will start buying our goods and services and we’ll have to hire people to staff up. Pretty soon, the private industry employees every other small business is hiring will start spending money on our stuff and Uncle Sam can quit hiring people. We’ll probably offer better wages and benefits anyway and then those government jobs will just dry up.

Policy change #2: Direct hiring. Do not give money to the states and private contractors to hire people. They will just use the cash to shore up their bottom lines and bloat their stock prices.

That’s pretty much what I want to hear tomorrow. I’m not going to, but that is what it will take.

Otherwise, it will be the same ol’ waiting game we’re all playing right now.

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About Rufus Dogg

I'm a dog who writes a blog. It is not a pet blog. It is a real blog that talks about real ideas. No, really. I do my own writing, but I have a really, really cool editor who overlooks the fact that I can't really hit the space-bar key cause I don't have thumbs. I talk about everything from politics to social issues to just rambling about local problems. And, sometimes I just talk about nothing in particular. Google+
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7 Responses to Jobs

  1. James Dibben says:

    Okay, so you want the Governement to hire people to create art?

    I like the idea of the Government paying people to do something over just handing them money. I’m guessing that the pay would be better, but that’s a guess.

    So, I’m an artist, who doesn’t make any money, so a normal every day run-of-the-mill artist, because I’m unemployed and all.

    The Fed hires me to just create art or movies or something and I’ll spend that money on my kids or milk or something? And people will actually buy my art or watch my movies?

    I’m not convinced the Government can create a business model that will be profitable.

  2. Rufus Dogg says:

    Yes. Is art not important? Is art not what makes us innately human? There would be a hiring process and you would have to have some sort of portfolio, etc. but how much talent are we wasting as a nation just simply because we don’t value the creation of art in a recession? How many people become copier salesmen because nobody is buying their books, even though they are an amazing writer? Probably more than we know. If we knowingly throw away that human treasure, how do we live with ourselves?

    Most great art never gets created because there is a very short gap between the artists’ means and the market demand. In short, they give up because the rent is overdue. (Another book to read: Virginia Woolf, A room of one’s own)

    It is not about government creating a business model. It is about government lifting us up when the bottom of our humanity starts sagging. Not everything worth doing has an ROI. Like lighthouses. If left up to the marketplace, there would be no lighthouses built. No single company could justify the expense. They would rather just buy insurance.

    If you were good enough, people would buy your art. And the government would make royalties back on you when you get famous.

  3. Rufus Dogg says:

    One more quick thing: Unemployment benefits are earned and should never be conditional, but we should think about a program that enables people to sign up for extra stipends for mowing foreclosed lawns or planting communal gardens and such… we’re all in this together; we should start acting like it.

  4. James Dibben says:

    Well, first off, I’m willing to try your idea. Nothing else the government has tried is working.

    Secondly, I would rather the government get involved in the arts over goods and services. I’ll admit I would rather they take on an industry no one else wants or values.

    My daughter is a very talented artist and we all know she won’t likely make a living doing art. Most companies that employ artistist treat them like complete crap.

    Let’s just assume the government will lose money on the idea. It’s inevitable. If the general market doesn’t value it then nothing the government does will change that. On average, it’s a money loser.

    Why feed a losing machine? Can you really pump enough money into something that isn’t profitable and expect the circle of cash flow to be sustainable?

    I get your premise, and I like the concept. My main beef is the selfish, vote grabbing politicians the will have their dirty fingers in the process. I have lost my faith in the entire group. I know giving up isn’t a solution but it’s tough when you can tell they will feed you a line of anything if they think it will get a vote.

  5. Rufus Dogg says:

    James, it is not about money. It is about preserving our humanity despite our financial situation. Money comes and goes; we should be striving to advance our species in the only ways that make us uniquely human… the arts, music, philosophy, words, language.. and none of those things come with an ROI.

    Watch The Shawshank Redemption. Really, really listen to Andy’s philosophy on life. Where else can you say the Sull’aria…che soave zeffiretto from the Marriage of Figaro can have more meaning than when it lives on in the human mind? Music — once created — never dies regardless of what medium is exists on. Money is transient; music and art and literature lives on past whatever currency we think is valuable for this day.

    If we are building bridges and expanding roads, why not put an artist and writer on staff in addition to the engineers to make each bridge unique and inscribed with verse that is created specifically for that bridge? What an awesome thing for you to be standing in front of a magnificent piece of art that withstood the elements of 50 years with your granddaughter or great-granddaughter and say, “We built that. There were those who wanted us to die out, but that bridge/tower/monument is a tribute to the tenacity of a generation of humans — my generation — that would not be defeated by the ravages of a recession or the rape of wealth by the rich classes.” How awesome would that feeling be?

    That is the true value of art. And that is why it is not a trivial or frivolous thing. It is real; it is what defines us as a species. The truth is no less than that.

    And if you think you were gonna get away with me not recommending another book, sorry. Solitude, A Return to Self by Anthony Storr. It examines how art, music and literature lives on in the mind and how it can sustain human beings condemned to isolation in an attempt to break their spirit. It explains why Andy came out of solitary stronger than when he went in. It explains why GitMo was doomed from the start and what GW Bush and Cheney did not know about the human animal.

  6. James Dibben says:

    http://www.rushkoff.com/blog/2011/9/7/cnncom-are-jobs-obsolete.html

    Someone shared this article with me this morning. I thought it fit well with this conversation.

  7. Rufus Dogg says:

    It did fit well! Thanks for sharing