The New York Times headline reads: Slumping Economy Jeopardizes Democrats’ Election Prospects. The author of the article went on to comment, “It’s no wonder that jobs – who can create them, who is to blame for the losses – are nearly all that candidates [in Ohio] discuss.” Of course this is the discussion taking place nationwide.

Here’s the interesting thing about this article. It suggests that, regardless of one’s opinion of the government, there is a clear expectation that the government is responsible for job creation. Government holds the key to prosperity and growth and the failure to create jobs is a significant result of failed federal and state policies. The corollary is that failed government policies are, also, responsible for job losses. That is, businesses are pawns of government, marionettes manipulated by the government. Businesses cannot grow unless governments adopt the “correct” combination of policies. In some quarters, that means eliminating corporate taxes. In others it means granting tax credits. That is, job creation is not possible unless business is given the freedom from any responsibility it may have to contribute to the very society that makes their success possible. There seems to be no expectation that businesses, currently sitting on over one trillion dollars in cash, have any patriotic responsibility to actively participate in our economic revival.

The expectation that government is responsible for job creation seems to fly in the face of most political pundits, especially conservative commentators. Whereas they tell us to vote against Democrats if we want job creation, they also tell us government is too intrusive and should be downsized to decrease its influence in our lives. The Republican Party still believes that less regulatory control of business is the key to growth and prosperity.  They still have the assumption that businesses, and the free market, will regulate themselves and stay in balance while producing growth.

Since the prevailing opinion is that the current lack of job generation is the result of failed Obama policies, then the tragic loss of 15 million jobs over the last four years lies at the feet of failed Bush administration policies. Are we to throw out the Democrats because they do not create jobs and re-implement the policies that cost us 15 million jobs? Assuming, of course, that you believe government is in the business of creating and losing jobs.

The Bush administration took a laissez faire attitude toward regulation enforcement, in keeping with conservative policy. Laissez faire describes “an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies.”  This “hands off” policy appears to have been the root of our economic collapse.

For job creation, we need to focus on business, not the government. Obama has been struggling to keep the economy afloat until businesses decide to step back into the game. They have the money to create jobs. More hiring means more people with money to spend and more growth. Businesses have to step up to the plate. We should not have the expectation that government must create jobs, especially if we rail against stimulus spending, believe government is too intrusive, and think government should be shrunk. If we resent governments’ role in the economy then we must focus on business and hold companies accountable for their role. The greater the expectation of government, the larger and more intrusive government will be. Blame business or government, take your pick. If you want small government, you must pick business.

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Jim Fitzgerald

Jim Fitzgerald

A clinically trained psychologist, Jim had a private practice in Cobb County for almost 30 years. For the last ten years he has been a Professor of Psychology at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT, but lives in the North Georgia Mountains.