A recent article from Fortune interviewed successful entrepreneur billionaire, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. She provides three issues that, according to her, will stimulate job growth for the middle class.
Increased Infrastructure Spending: Everything "from broadband to bridges." Pritzker said there were trillions of dollars in deferred investment in our infrastructure. With Capitol Hill essentially in gridlock, the private sector needs to step in and invest in this "enormous job creator."
More investment in research and development: Government and the business community need to work together on this endeavor. "Business does the development," she said, while the government provides the research.
Encourage more workers to go into STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math): "Fifty percent of the workers on the smart grid are going to retire within the next five years," she said. These middle-class jobs do not require a Ph.D., but they do need skilled workers. Training the workforce to fill these vacancies is critical. "We need training geared towards jobs," Pritzker said. "Which means the business sector has to get involved."
My Rebuttal to Gov’t Job Creation
The problem with Commerce Secretary Pritzer’s line of thinking is that government is not a long-term job creator—small business is the job creator. Even with Pritzer’s success as an entrepreneur and billionaire, it is puzzling as to why she is trying to sell gov’t job creation, when she even admitted recently, that she is not really sure about how gov’t works in the face of business development.
Steep Learning Curve: From Private to Public Sector
Here is an excerpt from a recent interview with The Atlantic's James Fallows who asked about her six months of new public sector experience: “Well there are a lot of things I didn't know. The most interesting thing for me as coming from the business world, having run businesses, knowing how business works has been really trying to understand how does government work? And who does what? And we were just talking about China. And I said, you know, one of the things that I've learned coming into this job is what does it mean to be a deputy? What does it mean to be a Chief of Staff? What does it mean to be an Under Secretary and Assistant? And what do those folks actually do? And how does it work? And that's been a big learning curve. Whereas I know what a CEO does. I know what a Chairman of the Board does. I know what a CFO does. And so learning these things has helped—it's taken me a little bit to understand, and frankly I have to live it a little bit to get the feeling and to better understand how to be effective."
Gov’t Should Step Aside
The problem right now for most businesses in the US, is the level of uncertainty created by the gov’t, particularly at the Federal level. With all of the uncertainty, the high tax rates, and not knowing if the rule of law is still good here in the US, makes it hard for business to plan, invest, and even consider hiring workers. This is the discussion we need to have.
Yes, investing in building and repairing roads and bridges will create jobs, which are typically short-term project type jobs. Just ask my boilermaker union friend who only worked a total of 6 weeks this year. And, don’t mention to any unions, that Chinese firms have been hired to do more than just some of this work.
Of course it would be great if government and business worked together. After all, the government was put in place to help support and when necessary, regulate business and consumers—nothing more. The problem is that the current US Federal Government, has simply been hostile to businesses to the point of being out of control.
I fully agree that we need more students to graduate with math and science degrees. However, this discussion is about CREATING jobs, not being able to fill vacant jobs. Filling vacancies does not stimulate growth! Then there is the wonder of how folks will get educated in math and science with the price of higher education through the roof.
Ways to Spur Long-term Job Growth
Speak with some small business owners yourself to see what we have to say about hiring. The reality is that there are four ways to spur long-term job growth: bring back certainty for small business owners, stop punishing those who have had success, and reign in the overreaching control of the Federal gov’t. The fourth one is a biggie: increase demand for goods and services. Businesses that are busy are the ones who will hire first. Until that happens, any discussion on job growth is just rhetoric.