Where the Jobs Really Are
David Gergen, adviser to four U.S. presidents and professor of leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School noted in a recent Tweet that employment numbers only reconfirm the need for a jobs plan. He went on to ask his Twitter followers, "Whose ideas will put Americans back to work? Clinton? GOP?"
Former President Clinton's plan, put forth in Newsweek magazine, proposes 14 steps to kick-start job growth. From speeding up start times on construction projects (by providing certain approval waivers) to a slew of energy and environment-related jobs and improvements, to states' rights to incentivize business growth, Clinton looks to government to clear the way for business opportunities to prosper and spur job creation.
The GOP's approach focuses on "America's Job Creators" that will reduce regulatory burdens on Small Business Owners, pass free trade agreements, fix the tax code to encourage investment and pay down the national debt.
Like Clinton's plan, the GOP looks to government policies and practices to create more favorable environments for business, so that these businesses will hire more people.
Here's the problem with a government-then-business approach.
First, in a society where success in business is measured by quarterly returns, it is incredibly difficult for businesses to grow at a pace that allows for long-term planning, investment in the future, and increased employee education, enrichment and retention, all of which lead to long-term sustained growth. In a shareholder-focused, short-term, buy/sell world, it's a challenge to have faith that tax incentives and reduced regulation will encourage businesses to do the "right thing" and create new jobs.
Consider Boston Scientific Corp., which in March 2011 announced that it would cut 5 percent of its staff. On a conference call with employees, Chief Medical Officer Keith Dawkins explained, "We have to be responsible to our shareholders," adding that management believes that they can increase shareholder value by 70 percent over the next three years. The implication here is that Boston Scientific can increase revenue with less people. So why, if they can do this, would they ever consider hiring more?
Second, in a government-then-business approach, American workers are ceding all responsibility for their job creation, and ultimately their livelihoods, to the companies, organizations and entities that can hire them. In this scenario, the prevailing attitude is that "the jobs are coming" and that workers should just be patient while government and business collude to create them. So why should workers even attempt to get a job when the reports are so bad and the big "plans" proposed by the vying parties never mention the duty of the worker to make things happen for him or herself? If I were the average American worker, I'd sit back on my couch, collect unemployment benefits and wait until things look rosier.
Clearly, this isn't going to work.
We are in a different world. We all know this. With ever-emerging technology replacing the need for certain job categories, many businesses have found that they can operate without those extra hands and still be productive. So what is the average American supposed to do?
Here's something that not enough people seem to know: The jobs are actually inside of each and every one of us. It is up to us to Claim Ourand no longer wait for others to tell us it is OK to get back to work.
Whether it is starting a home business, or identifying a company of interest and proving to management that we can help solve their problems and make them successful, the key to solving our job creation woes lies within each of us, the American worker. We can all work harder, reject laziness, and strive to be successful. We can all stop complaining about what government is or isn't doing to help us get ahead, and start doing the things we need to survive.
It is time for all of us, of every color, stripe, political orientation, education level and creed, to step up our game. Where the jobs really are ... are inside each and every one of us.
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