“Job Creators?”

I was what conservative business interests would have you believe is a “job creator.” I, and several very smart managers ran, and some still do, a company that worked with national clients.

At our peak, we employed more than 250 Vermonters. Today the company employs fewer than 100, but not because its current owners are paralyzed by fear of taxes or regulation, but because the market has shrunk to that level and any company committed to its own survival must adjust its overheads to profitably match its revenues.

I hate to disappoint you, but as president and part-owner I was not the “job creator.” The market was. We were entrepreneurs and an overheated consumer market created our jobs. Neither tax rates nor regulations played a role in our decisions to hire. We had no choice but to hire as many Vermonters as we could, knowing full well that the market could shrink at any time, and when it did, so would our company.

Promoting the idea that all business leaders are “job creators” is as shallow as the assertion that all business leaders should be exempt from regulatory and statutory oversight, while the rest of us should not.

The paranoid language trumped up by those who dislike government assumes that most Americans are much less intelligent than, in fact, we are. We learn by education, example and experience. An MBA and accumulated or inherited wealth are not the only determinants of wisdom.

The obvious effort to create and embed a popular language coded deftly with terms like “free-up the job creators,” “government intrusion,” and “tax and spend,” arrogantly assumes that most Americans live in a perpetual state of fear-induced ignorance. This is frankly an insult.

We have lived through much worse: the labor abuses of the industrial revolution in the late 1800’s, The Great Depression, the self-sacrifice asked of us during World War II, and now the economic slump that was largely created by a deregulated finance industry, over-marketing, and a culture of excess consumerism. In time, this, too, will correct through the resilience of the American people and the relentless acceleration of innovation.

In fact, conservative ideologues do their own long-range business interests a terrible disservice by pretending that the current economic slump is simply the result of over-zealous government. They preclude any intelligent discussion with working Americans about the critical importance of quality education, environmental intelligence and the new impacts of automation and innovation on the future workplace.

The assumption that Americans with their collective experience must be managed like children to ensure the well-being of the job creators is self-serving and shortsighted.

Business interests have always been well cared for in this country – especially since President Reagan took office.

It would be much more productive to lead an honest conversation about our place in the global economy and the economic well-being of all Americans – and not just the privileged few.

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