Saturday, May 5, 2012

Who’s to Blame for Slow Job Growth?

I find it ironic that Republicans blame the Obama administration for slow job growth in the current economic environment. I’m not really sure how that accountability is assigned. Here’s my take on the matter.

1.    The administration certainly is accountable for jobs in the federal government, but those job are shrinking, not growing, because of the Republican cuts in the federal budget. These same Republicans complain that the government is too big, and they want to eliminate more departments of the federal government and the jobs that go with those departments. I can’t blame Obama for that!

2.   Jobs in the rest of the economy are created by businesses, which hire and fire based on the demand for the business’s products and services. The demand for products and services certainly is affected by consumer confidence, and Republicans blame the Obama administration for the lack of consumer confidence. I attribute the lack of consumer confidence to the gridlock and intransigence that characterizes the Congress, and I think we all know which party has pledged never to compromise. The Tea Party movement in the Republican Party has exacerbated the situation by demanding pledges from its candidates that they will never vote against the interests of their local supporters (see my blog post of July 26, 2011, “The Fatal Flaw in the Tea Party Movement”). That banishes the prospects for compromise. Consumer confidence will improve when cooperation, good will, and commitment to an “all for one and one for all” spirit returns to our Congress and the executive branch. Frankly, in a bitter election year, that is an unlikely outcome; but you can’t blame Obama alone for the mean-spirited partisanship that undergirds the current environment and erodes consumer confidence.

3.   All the non-government jobs in our economy are created by businesses. Based on the salaries being paid to top business executives, you would think that our economy is doing great; but business are not hiring. The concentration of wealth in our country among the top 1% or even 10% means that most of our future economic prospects are controlled by the wealthy, not by the President of the United States. (Of course, if Romney is elected, the two categories will be merged). If the wealth of our nation is not invested in economic growth, business expansion, innovation, job creation, and social improvements, we cannot just blame the politicians for economic stagnation.

I have little confidence that we will change the current decline of our economy or our society. The attention of our media is on the frivolous. The focus of our economic power (exemplified by the current valuation of Facebook’s public offering) is increasingly on the superfluous. The greed of the wealthy and the hunger for power among our politicians offer little hope that substantive attention will be paid to our fundamental needs. And our moral voices are dying—except for those that entertain and inspire with little substance and even less attention to the core issues of the poor Galilean, whose voice has been lost in the megaplexes we call churches and the extravaganzas we call worship. The moral voices that are left are watered down by secular values that embrace rather than transform our culture. Maybe we are all to blame for the social environment that is leading to a stagnant economy and a stagnant society. Maybe we all should be giving more attention to moral and ethical dimensions of our society so that we are laying up treasures in heaven rather than treasures that moths, rust, thieves, politicians, and the super-wealthy can destroy or steal away.

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