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.
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.