One again, John Boehner thinks he has his finger on the pulse of the American economy . . . and if paramedics were that far off finding a pulse, they'd be trying to check it by groping your right calf.
disposable income, we wouldn't be in this mess.
That's moronic. Boehner and all the other self-declared "pro-business" conservatives are acting on an ideological fantasy that bears no relation to how business actually works - namely, that businesses are hell-bent to add to their payrolls, if only taxes were lowered and regulations rolled back. If they could pad their profits just a little, the "job creators" would be out there hiring right now.
Here's the truth: they don't want to hire you. And that's not just the economy, or tax policy, or profit margins, or the weird, Galtian "strike" that Boehner thinks the top 1% are taking now. It's not just your resume or that long stint of unemployment you've just had. They don't want to hire anybody. Ever.
Read on . . .
Say I decided to start a small business. Going with what I know, I decide to take the amateur wine-making I'm doing in a spare closet and try taking it commercial.
I need a commercial space. I need equipment to make the wine in bulk - 1000-liter stainless steel tanks, a six-spout bottle filler, filters and pumps, lab equipment. I need to learn, and then conform to, the stringent health and cleanliness requirements for businesses producing something human beings are going to consume. Then I need to find a good source of quality fruit that can supply the volume I need. I need to get good yeast lines, and set up what I need to care for the little buggers.
Press the fruit, stir the wine-must, manage fermentation, clean meticulously to keep within the regulations. I'm working 80-hour weeks, or more, trying to get my business off the ground. I'm living at the winery. I'm sleeping on the floor.
What I'm not doing is hiring someone else. Not yet. Assuming I started turning a profit, I'd upgrade my equipment first. I'd trade in that bottle filler and shell out the extra for an automated bottling line, to streamline my process and reduce my workload. If I'm selling faster than I can produce, I'll get an extra tank and ramp up production.
And then - if the workload became more than I could keep up with - I'd hire someone. Only then. Because until then, it's money I don't need to spend. So I don't - for as long as I can possibly avoid it. And at every step beyond that, every time the business grew, I'd put off the next hire for as long as I could. And the next one. My business would grow as fast as I could manage. My payroll would grow as slowly as I could manage. Because that's how businesses operate.
They don't want to hire you.
Employees are a cost, a necessary evil, like taxes or leases or equipment maintenance. Businesses are no more willing to hire extra employees than they are to buy extra office furniture. They only hire when they have to, when there's demand - when there are so many people, with so much money, coming through their doors that extra hands are the only way to keep up.
It's customers that want you employed. Customers want to buy stuff, and they want it delivered, and they want to be able to call someone at 2 a.m. when they can't figure out what the stupid instructions are telling them about how to make it work. They want someone to be right there at the counter when they walk up, someone refilling their water glass every time it gets half-empty at lunch, someone offering them spritzes of sample perfume as they stroll through the cosmetics department. They want enough bottles of Jaxpagan's Special Reserve Blueberry Wine on the shelves that there's still at least one sitting there when they stop by to pick one up on the way home.
It's those customers, clamoring at my door for more blueberry wine (it's really, really good blueberry wine), that will finally make me hire someone. And even then, I'll hire them as cheaply as I can, for as few hours as I can, and for as short a term as I can.
It's those customers again, coming back day after day, that make me realize I'll need extra hands on a permanent basis, even if I manage to streamline the work. It's that need that gets me doing the math on hiring and training new workers over and over, or just hiring permament workers. It's that pressure, applied across the whole commercial sector, that puts me in competition to hire the good workers, so I can get the most for my money. And it's that competition that makes me start pimping better benefits and/or working conditions to be more attractive as an employer.
I don't do any of that of my own free will. I don't do it just because I'm nice. I sure as hell don't do it just because I'm raking in more money and I can afford to - what's the point of making more money just to spend it on business stuff? That's not getting me my private zoo - and ye gods, do you have any idea what Lea Michele charges to pop out of a birthday cake?
Which gets to the point - we're now some thirty years into the delusional lunacy of supply-side economics, and there's still a whole end of the political spectrum that doesn't understand this simple truth: when rich people have more money, they spend it on themselves.
They buy big homes, yachts, solid-gold plumbing fixtures, genetically modified micro-giraffes. They play high-stakes poker. They play hedge funds and derivatives - which, honestly, is just as much about rich guys gambling among themselves for thrills as high stakes poker. And for that matter, high stakes poker has about as much to do with investment as hedge funds and derivatives.
And in all that, the only jobs that get created are for the people that serve drinks at the poker table, maintain the homes and yachts, work in precious-metal plumbing, and clean up after the micro-giraffe. In other words, the only jobs they actually create - or want to create - they create by being the customer.
Which would be awesome, if we could get the top 1% to roam the highways and biways of the land, criss-crossing the country week after week and running into every mom-and-pop they see to buy something. Then there could be an uptick in demand, and all those businesses might actually find the need to add to their payrolls ("Jeb, hire a stockboy - the Merry Banksters are supposed to swing through again next week").
But they don't. And they won't. Because however extravagantly they try to live, most of the hoard will ultimately stay tucked under Smaug's love handles. Even Paris Hilton couldn't shop constantly enough to keep all her money in circulation.
Supply-siders will never accept this. Either they really believe in their job-creation mythology, or they just want to win the favor of the super-rich for their own benefit. Maybe they want that micro-giraffe gig after it's all over. I don't know.
But we know what works - a strong middle class, millions of people with enough economic stability, confidence in the social safety net and disposable income to crowd into stores and buy stuff. Customers. We need to fight for the policies that build them up, protect them and pave their way.
Because they want to hire you.