Who really cares about jobs in this country? The short answer is anyone that doesn’t have one. So if you’re out of work, or afraid of being out of work, here’s some things you need to consider before the next election.
- Any job you seek will be there (1) because government created it or (2) because business created it. Sometimes business creates the jobs with the help of government subsidies, tax incentives, and other job initiatives. Sometimes not.
- Both parties say they work for the American people, but they each work more for some Americans than for others. Traditionally, the Democratic party has supported labor unions, government employees, and workers of business. The Republican party has traditionally supported businesses, particularly owners and shareholders. They talk a lot about small businesses. Neither party ever talks about large business, but it is that which today runs both parties.
Any job created by government falls into the “public” sector. They are mostly service jobs and include these examples: law enforcement, military, public school employees, firefighters, judges, prison guards, social services workers, and numerous city, county, and state workers. If you work a government job, you will always be subject to the political tides that occur from one election to the next.
Government workers earn a predetermined salary for performing a particular job or service. Raises may occur if economic conditions are good, or salaries may be frozen when economic times are bad. The best opportunity for increasing your salary in a government job is to move up the ladder to a higher position in your field. If you have collective bargaining for public employees in your state, the opportunities to increase your salary improve somewhat. Some states have no collective bargaining for public sector jobs. Salaries for public workers originate from taxes that are collected by the local, state, and federal government. The fewer taxes the government collects, the fewer programs and workers it can maintain.
Jobs created by businesses fall into the “private” sector. The purpose of business is to make money, specifically enough money to achieve a significant profit for the owner. (A veterinarian may have chosen to be a veterinarian because she loves animals, but once she opens that clinic, she is a business person.)
Jobs created by businesses include jobs in manufacturing, construction, communications, health care, real estate, agriculture, sales, private institutions (hospitals, schools), etc. If you work for a business but are not the owner, you will be paid by the hour, by contract, or by commission. Your salary is paid by the business, so its success is imperative to you having and maintaining your job. Businesses must collect and pay taxes and fees imposed on them by the government. How much they pay varies, but almost no business wants to pay them. Business owners complain of government regulations and taxes being too high.
The businessman’s concerns are reflected in the mantra of the Republican party which for decades has been “lower taxes and less government”.
- Businesses make more money if they pay their workers less and provide fewer benefits. Republican legislators have consistently voted against minimum wage, overtime provisions, increasing health care, etc. They have worked against labor unions and have done little to reduce outsourcing of American jobs.
- Businesses make more money if they control more markets. This is one of the reasons the Republican party supports privatizing social security. Think about the money that business people could make if they had access to all that money to play around with in the markets. Plus, they could hire their own workers (at lower costs) to administer the clerical duties, and get rid of some of those government workers.
- Businesses make more money when they can take over jobs and services that are currently handled by the government. Many private businesses have contracts with the government to perform certain tasks. This is mostly a good thing for business and government. Sometimes, though, you have to wonder if the government pays too much for these services, especially in deals where there is very little (if any) competition for awarding those contracts. Haliburton racked up some large money deals during the rebuilding of Iraq. Blackwater also received large contracts. They performed jobs that the military once did itself. Promoting fewer government workers and more private contracts adds up to a lot more money for business.
- Businesses make more money when government is smaller. First, smaller government requires less money to operate, thus fewer taxes need to be collected. The fewer taxes collected, the more business owners get to keep. Secondly, the smaller government is, the fewer people the government can hire to inspect and regulate. With fewer watchdogs, businesses can operate in ways that are quicker and more efficient for them. What is better for business sometimes means ignoring practices that are better for the environment, the consumer, and/or its workers.
The Democratic party seems to have no mantra of its own. It is often slurred by its critics as a “socialist” party and defined by them as “tax and spend liberals”. The Democratic party has traditionally rallied for causes such as equal rights, environmental protections, and fair labor practices. It represents mostly middle class workers of business, public sector workers, the unemployed, and the working poor.
It was a Democratic congress and a Democratic president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1935 passed the first Social Security Act. This act established the social security program. It also started our unemployment insurance program, included aid to dependent children, and provided temporary grants to states for some forms of medical care.
It was a Democratic congress along with the Democratic president, Lyndon B. Johnson, who in 1964 passed the Civil Rights Act that outlawed major forms of discrimination against blacks and women, including racial segregation. Johnson’s War on Poverty also brought about programs such as Head Start and the Jobs Corp. The food stamp program was also created in 1964 and has been rewritten and revised several times. The Social Security Act of 1965 was also passed and signed by Democrats. This act created Medicare and Medicaid.
It is true that these programs do cost something, and that government has grown every year for decades. However, the spending and the growth of government have occurred under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
What have the Democrats done to create jobs? (1.)They have supported the extension of unemployment benefits. This does not create jobs directly, but supporters claim it does help the economy because, while people are looking for jobs, they can continue to spend money on food and other necessities which helps businesses too. (2.) They passed a stimulus bill that allowed many public employees to keep their jobs. It set up incentives for small businesses, and it gave breaks to some businesses and consumers through green energy initiatives and mortgage breaks to home buyers. These incentives and breaks probably saved some private sector jobs as well. (3.) They bailed out General Motors, Wall Street, and many of the big banks so that people there kept their jobs. (Yeah, that one irks me too!)
The unemployment rate is still high but not as high as it was when most of them took office. Despite their attempts to save the economy and what jobs they could, they were run out of office, presumably because they had not created enough jobs and were spending too much.
What have the Republicans done to create jobs? It is still too soon to know for certain since they have only been back dominating the House for a couple of months. So far I have found nothing being proposed by the 112th congress that actually creates jobs. They have introduced a bill which they call H.R. 2 Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.
I have read the letter that was sent to Speaker Boehner from the Congressional Budget Office on February 18, 2011. (I wanted to copy parts of it here but the option was not available when I tried to copy and paste.) I have included a link to it and recommend that you look at it. It does not mention jobs specifically, so I guess that “Job-Killing” part is being inferred somehow through the information that is provided. I didn’t want to think that hard, but I did learn some useful information on how repealing the health care law would impact the deficit. Read carefully. You may be surprised to learn that the CBO says that the repeal of the healthcare law would actually cost more than keeping it. Read it for yourself.
On February 15, 2011, Speaker Boehner responded to a question about how spending cuts would impact jobs. His response was :
“Over the last two years since President Obama has taken office the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs. And if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. We’re broke. It’s time for us to get serious on how we’re spending the nation’s money.”
The jobs numbers of 200,000 have been disputed as greatly elevated. Politico.com reports that the federal government hired 379,000 new workers in 2010, but most of these were temporary census workers. The real number they claim is 46,000 jobs when the census jobs are subtracted. Thus, it appears that the Republicans are more focused right now on eliminating public sector jobs than on creating jobs in the private sector.
For all the talk, there is little that either party can do now to create jobs. The jobs will eventually come, but it will take more time. My guess is that job growth will not increase substantially between now and 2012. The Democrats cannot afford to spend any more on stimulus; and the Republicans don’t want the President and the Democrats to get credit for jobs before the next election.
- DC Democrats are ceding the entire traditional Democratic economic ideology (dailykos.com)
- “The Forgotten Laborer – Raising the Retirement Age” and related posts (disabled-world.com)
- Les Leopold: Main Street Goes to War Against Itself as Job Crisis Persists (huffingtonpost.com)
- Kevin Zeese: As the Race to the Bottom Picks Up Speed, Are Americans Finally Fed-Up? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Poll: Voters deficit-worried but wary of cuts (msnbc.msn.com)
- Midwest battle over unions a grab for political power (seattletimes.nwsource.com)