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Jobs Come From Enterprise

by: scott_laugenour

Thu Dec 02, 2010 at 15:02:35 PM EST

(Amen! - promoted by eli_beckerman)

The best jobs policy for a commonwealth to adopt is to provide a quality public infrastructure that fosters private enterprise.  It is a proven engine for upward mobility.  Let's reject the two familiar non-working policy frameworks in a stagnant debate that argue either:

1) that taxes and government impede enterprise (and thus should always be cut); or

2) that credits and incentives should be extended to favored companies and industries (whose officers and lobbyists make investments to exert influence on public policy-making).

I'm not arguing against all tax cuts or against all credits, but I do argue that our public infrastructure does not support enterprise, job creation, and upward economic mobility.

scott_laugenour :: Jobs Come From Enterprise
A recent report from the Economic Mobility Project, initiated by the Pew Charitable trust, indicates that France, Canada, Germany, Norway, and Denmark enjoy higher levels of upward mobility than we do.  Many people from the US who visit these and other countries observe a lot more enterprise and economic success than the mainstream news narrative here would have them to believe.

A discussion on the radio this morning between John Krol and Charlie Deitz on Krol's radio program, Good Morning Pittsfield touched on high school drop out rates that are on the increase.

As a candidate this year I often spoke about my experience on the management team of Marriott International.  Bill Marriott Sr., who founded the company, directed his team to manage with this bit of wisdom:  "Take care of your employees and they will take care of the business."  In my mind, this mantra translates very well to the arena of public policy-making, as I discussed in a blog published in March.

The public infrastructure that supports individual private enterprise is much more than roads, bridges, and broadband.  The most important infrastructure we have is our human infrastructure, in whose health and education are investments from which we all benefit.  These investments must be made not only to ensure that people are healthy and educated, but that they are free - solvent - to be enterprising.

This is why a public investment is needed.  Current debt burdens that we impose on individuals and small businesses in their pursuit of health and education crush enterprise.  I do not believe it is a coincidence that the nations that foster better upward mobility than we do are ones whose citizens do not become bankrupt or insolvent when they suffer illness or become educated.

During the business canvassing that I did during my campaign I spoke to small business owners, asking them what their biggest issue was.  Nearly unanimously the answer was health care costs.  Most business owners understood that their peers in countries whose health insurance plans are part of public infrastructure (as it is in all the countries that are more upwardly mobile than we are) do not carry such unfair burdens.  Indeed, I know of no small business owner in any country who would relocate to Massachusetts on the basis of the health care system.

The students to whom I spoke at a rally at Berkshire Community College, sponsored by PHENOM, understood this idea readily when the concept was applied to the college debt that they incur.  Mr. Deitz, on this morning's radio program, also alluded to the real problems of education debt.  "Most students who decide not to pursue higher education are making a rational cost-benefit choice," he stated.

Our population would be more enterprising and would create more local businesses and jobs of the future if we redefined 'economic development' to include a priority investment into the health, education, and solvency of our young people.  Downtown Pittsfield would have more than the few well-connected favor-seeking entrepreneurs than it has now.

I made the argument on the radio at the candidate debate (Oct 27) that if we insisted that the students who took advantage of a strong public education subsidy remained in the commonwealth, then the presence of these enterprising, educated, healthy and solvent young people would be the environment where business executives from outside would trip over themselves to come to Massachusetts.

The solutions to our infrastructure problems are in the hands of the legislature, which controls taxing and budgeting of public revenues.  The decisions to make these investments are made in Beacon Hill.  Our policies are stuck within two paradigms that have been tried and are not working.  Change will occur when new legislators adopt these new budget priorities and a broader view of public infrastructure.

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The Evils of German Social Democracy: Lower unemployment, More green energy (0.00 / 0)

There are probably better summaries than the above, but it still gives an idea how different the economic ideals and model are in Europe compared to the US.  

Utopian that I am, I wouldn't stop there, but its so clear and obvious how much an improvement this kind of social accord is than what we have:  go in debt to go to college, get a job, use credit and loans to buy a house, car, and other stuff; then get laid off; grind yourself into poverty and economic insecurity with an inadequate social safety net...  Debt slavery is Freedom...

This is why frameworks are important, because you simply cannot explain the above situation with the sound bites and slogans that are commonly used in our explanations of political economy.  

In the above "free markets" and "privatization" are not good, their actually rather bad.  Finding ways to talk to people about these issues is a powerful step in the right direction.  (And you can still adjust how oft used terms are framed, "enterprise" the way its used in Scott's post is certainly different than how a libertarian conservative would use it.)

"The folly of giving millions to business while axing teachers" (0.00 / 0)
A great op-Ed in the Charlotte Observer on the same topic (same nonsense goes on in NC and MA):


"We are so happy to have a seat at the table that we ignore the meal being served." Jeff Crosby, president of IUE-CWA Local 201 in Lynn, Mass.

Enterprise Plus (0.00 / 0)
Yes! Improving access to health care and education will facilitate enterprise and entrepreneurs. Making these basic rights and basic services that we can all count on will alleviate the hurdles that hold small business back.

Enterprise is not the only way to create jobs - and should NOT be the only way, but it is important in the mix and health care costs are a huge obstacle right now. Too many people stay in unproductive and unfulfilling jobs in order to get health care - when they could be doing something much more useful. Too many people stay in corporate or even state jobs that take them away from their local community simply to have health care. We all benefit from having thriving businesses in our local downtown areas, even if we aren't business owners ourselves. It's sad for all of us when we see vacant storefronts in our towns and cities. And as you point out, when there are no jobs for local people, local businesses suffer for lack of customers, so a jobs program will benefit small business even if those jobs aren't in small business.

It's not a good idea to tout only one way to create jobs or to pit enterprise against other forms of employment and activity (as some politicians do). The interests of entrepreneurs have a lot in common with those of people who aren't entrepreneurs. The issues brought up in this article - health care and education - are extremely important to all kinds of workers - whether self-employed or not.

There is a problem with focusing too much on the concept of upward mobility in that it assumes that others will be left behind. (If I move up - then someone else by definition moves back.) The Green-Rainbow Party movement has the promise and potential to bring all kinds of people together under our common interests so that we can all thrive, and not just barely survive.

All kinds of 'enterprise' (0.00 / 0)
Hello Isabel.  Thank you for your post.  As Patrick Burke suggested in the first comment, I do indeed have a very broad view of 'enterprise.'  It can be anything that adds community or economic value.  Of course we do want successful local businesses in our downtowns, so we can't ignore raw economic needs.  A healthy infrastructure - health and education and transportation/transit - is a first step.  Our situation now is painful.

I've just been appointed to serve on a steering committee for my town's economic development action plan.  My downtown is important to me and it's not healthy.  The businesses that serve ordinary people are struggling.

Hope I see you around on this blog.  Thanks again.

Move forward; the center leads nowhere.

[ Parent ]
Good for you! (0.00 / 0)
Good luck Scott! Will be wonderful to see your downtown back in shape.

I used to work in South Norwalk , CT, where they had done something similar with the main downtown street, Washington St. But it was kind of a gentrified approach, made the street into a tourist attraction. I think what you and the Green-Rainbow party are trying to do is different and ultimately better for everyone.

Republicans often try to paint themselves as friends of small business. I heard Baker doing that in the debates - saying that he had spoken to small business owners and he "knew" what they wanted (fewer regulations etc.). So not true. As if universal health care and affordable quality education is not something small business owners would want?

[ Parent ]
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