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September 2011

Confessions of a Job Creator

I'm a job creator.  And job creators are important.  

At least that's what we've been hearing from Republicans lately.

House Speaker John Boehner cited "job creators" and "job creation" 26 times in a speech about the economy last week.  

And in that speech, the Speaker invoked us job creators to attack the Republicans' Unholy Trinity: taxes, regulation, and government spending:

Private-sector job creators of all sizes have been pummeled by decisions made in Washington.

They’ve been slammed by uncertainty from the constant threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending, and unnecessary regulation from a government that is always micromanaging, meddling, and manipulating.

To hear Boehner's version of events, the government stands as the sole obstacle to us job creators as we valiantly attempt to create more jobs.

Indeed, the entire Republican establishment keeps talking about the special role we job creators play in our fragile economic recovery.  

In their "House Republican Plan for America's Job Creators" - a 10-page, large-type tome [PDF link] about the same length as this blog post - the House Republican leadership repeatedly promise to slash the Unholy Trinity of tax, regulation, and spending.  On Sunday talk shows, more of the same.

If only we job creators paid less money in taxes, Republicans say, we would hire more.  

If only we were free from government regulation, we would hire more.  

If only we were less concerned about government spending, we would hire more.

As much as I appreciate Republicans' apparent concern - their willingness to dump money in my pocket, their longing for my freedom to pollute with abandon, their eagerness to drive the nation to the edge of default to keep government spending in check - here's the thing:

Their efforts won't help me create a single job.

Not one.

In fact, Republican attacks on taxes, regulation, and spending do quite the opposite, because Republicans are thoroughly wrong on the mechanics of hiring.  

I don't hire because I have extra jingle in my pocket.  I don't hire because I can avoid complying with some regulation or tax.  I don't hire because the government is spending less.  I hire because there's more work to do

No responsible businessperson is going to hire simply because they have extra money lying around or because they can dump motor oil in the sewer. As generous as I might be, I won't hire out of charity. 

Entrepreneurs hire because they have work to do, and a new employee can help them get that work done.  They hire to help meet demand. And demand is fueled by customers who have money to spend.

And that's the fallacy of the Republican job creator mythos: Job creators don't "create" jobs.  Our customers do.

And the evidence proves the Republican fallacy. Taxes are at historic lows [PDF link]. Corporate profits are at record highs. Government spending has collapsed.  These are the very conditions under which, according to Republicans, we job creators should be creating jobs.

But we aren't.

Despite these supposedly wonderful conditions for job creators, one in six Americans remain unemployed or underemployed. Income and household wealth has stagnated for over a decade. Instead of hiring in this environment, corporations are hoarding record stockpiles of cash in the face of weak demand.  

No demand, no jobs.

That's not to say that we entrepreneurs - let's just drop the "job creator" garbage - are powerless.  We can foster conditions which promote growth (the right business model, the right service, the right people); but we need customers with a willingness to spend to make our businesses grow and to create an environment where hiring is possible and profitable for us.  

Bottom line: Give me money, and I'll sock it away in the bank.  Give me customers, and I'll give you jobs.

 


Introducing CivilMechanics

Since its inception three years ago, the Lowell's blog (blog.lowells.us) has been a strange beast.  

It has been an admixture of news about Lowell's, tips for car maintenance, thoughts about business and the economy, and assorted commentary on our community, on downtown, and on the city of Lexington.

While this assortment was in line with our stated intent to offer "our perspectives on cars, business, Lexington, and life," it also resulted in a divided audience: those who care about cars and what is happening at Lowell's (usually customers); and those who care about more civic matters.

As you might imagine, the practical overlap between these groups is quite small.  The car folks probably don't care about musings on CentrePointe or Lexington's streets and roads.  The civic folks probably don't care about what's happening with the Lowell's website or how a brake flush works.

Still, I could kind of rationalize the Lowell's blog as a local blog by, for, and about a local business and local issues.

::

I have been the sole contributor to the Lowell's blog.  And over the past year or so, my postings have been far less frequent than I'd like.  

Part of that has to do with the busy-ness of our business (I haven't had as much time to devote to writing), but most of it lies in the fact that I've been wanting to write about new and different things.

In particular, I've wanted to shift my focus from predominantly local issues to predominantly national and global ones - to try, for instance, to decode what's happening in Washington or Wall Street from my own distinct perspective.  These topics just didn't feel at home among car care tips and shop news.

At the same time, I've wanted to extend the content of the Lowell's blog to include new contributions and new kinds of content from my employees here at Lowell's.  As I contemplated such a move, I didn't want them to feel overshadowed by strongly-expressed views which they might not share.

CivilMechanics To resolve this dilemma, I've created a new blog called CivilMechanics (www.civilmechanics.com) - sponsored by Lowell's - in which I will express my unique perspectives on a variety of issues.  (And, yes, "CivilMechanics" is an intentional multiple-entendre. I like that kind of stuff.) Please check out our first post, "Confessions of a Job Creator".  

I've also taken the liberty of migrating a few old Lowell's posts to CivilMechanics which capture some of the spirit of this new blog.   

Over the coming weeks, we'll introduce new contributors to the Lowell's blog.  I'll also continue to post on the Lowell's blog from time to time with items of interest to Lowell's customers and Lexingtonians.

With these changes, I'm hoping to increase our overall frequency of posts, both for customers (through the Lowell's blog) and for civic-minded followers (through CivilMechanics).  Please check them out, and be sure to let us know how we're doing.

The Lowell's Blog: blog.lowells.us

CivilMechanics: www.civilmechanics.com