The Book Of Jobs
Copyright © by Len Holman, 9/2/10
I’m not economist. I have not written any texts on the nation’s financial infrastructure, nor do I even read that kind of stuff. But I DO know about jobs. I have had many, many jobs in my lifetime, and have gone for depressingly long periods without jobs. The jobs I have had were mostly bad, ill-paying ones with bosses who were either drooling idiots or the spawn of the devil. It is this life experience which gives me confidence I could write a plan to create jobs which is clearer, simpler, and more efficient than the one the experts have put forth. They DO have a plan, don’t they?
Anyway, I thought about writing my own book and mailing to the White House, but Bo would probably end up with it, using it as a chew-toy, so I guess I’ll just set down the general outlines of the plan here and wait for that call of appreciation and relief from this administration.
First, the experts need to quit screwing around with arcane and unintelligible ideas which cannot be communicated to anyone outside the Beltway or inside an econ department at an elite university on the East coast, let alone trying to articulate a plan which might work. Simple often works, though this concept is denigrated by experts whose job it is to make everything complicated so they can continue the illusion that people like you and me can’t possibly grasp the seriousness of any particular situation—and my plan is pretty simple, which is why I am not sitting next to Tim Geitner in the White House cafeteria and chuckling over the frat house pranks we used to pull. So this is what I would do:
The Federal government would set up banks across the country. They would actually be just buildings with money available. They don’t have to be existing banks—in fact, there would be no existing banks allowed to participate. A courthouse, an old unused gas station, the storeroom of Ed’s Fine Foods in San Jose, any building not liable to fall down would do. These buildings would be located in areas of the country hard-hit by unemployment, foreclosed homes, and really bad city and county planning, and they would have access to the government’s Stimulus Money, left over war money (assuming we don’t invade Somalia). And there is plenty of money. Take the “real” banks out of this plan, since they are already sitting on tons of cash, afraid to lend any since the time they lent too much and got caught with their tighty-whities around their ankles. So we’d have regional buildings, staffed by local people who know their areas better than a bunch of guys sitting at a polished table in the bowels of the Treasury Department.
What would these “banks” do? They’d loan money. They’d HAVE to lend money because that’s the only thing they’d be there for. Not to create esoteric packages of mortgages and defaults and all that, to sell to other giant financial institutions. Just loan money. And who would they loan this money to? Businesses, both already-functioning ones, and ones that someone thinks would be a good idea but has no capital to start it up. No loans for major corporations, just small business or start-ups—with a planned or actual minimum number of employees, which will be decided on-site. These businesses would be local or regional to start with. If a prospective entrepreneur eventually want to go national or global, that’s fine, but it would be on her dime. So we have a series of regional loan centers set up to loan money to people who want to start a business or grow one.
Businesses would be contract-bound to hire and expand (specific details worked out by the local people), and their loans paid back by a specific date. The money pit wouldn’t be bottomless, and wouldn’t need to be. When the loans are paid back—here’s the cool part—the money is re-used by loaning to some other business, and the process starts all over, spreading like a benevolent virus, a meme, to other business, which pay back their loans and then…well, you get the point. This is an emergent-type system, in which individuals play their part—they hire, they work, they buy groceries and clothes and Twinkies—but the WHOLE system gets itself a face-lift, an upgrade, a lift-off. It’s a feedback loop, a multiplier loop, which gets the economy moving again. No one buys a home with a porch, a patio, and a white picket fence, if they can’t get a loan or if they don’t have a job which pays well enough so they are comfortable paying the mortgage. But I see you have questions.
Why the Feds? I mean, aren’t they the very ones who helped our economy shoot itself in the foot? They looked the other way while big financial companies stole and finagled and took the cookies out of the jar, and then BROKE the jar? Yes, but Bill Gates and his foundation are busy doing good in Africa, Sean Penn’s foundation is in Haiti and on CNN, the very rich owner of the Dodgers is busy with his divorce and faced with the real possibility of losing the team and his shirt, and wealthy people in general do not want to part with more than a penny of their money unless they get a whopping payback (which is partly how they stay wealthy)—which is what got us into this mess to begin with. So, to quote a famous bank robber who was asked why he robbed those banks, and replied, “That’s where the money is,” the government is where the money is. The president just gave an “end of the war in Iraq” speech in which he casually mentioned we spent a trillion dollars for war…a TRILLION! And that we must now turn our attention to our economic concerns. So the feds have enough money—a couple of loose billion ought to do it—and that’s one good reason: this plan needs funding.
But even supposing there was available cash, why would the government let it out of its control and let a bunch of (GASP!) non-bureaucrats loose with money, which—despite what the Supreme Court says—is mostly about power than speech? Simple—and good reason for using fed money #2: there is an election in 2012. Elections are for winning, and if projections are anywhere near accurate, the 2010 election is going to be bad for Democrats, and if the jobs market doesn’t noticeably and successfully open up soon, the 2012 election will be worse. Much worse. So the government has an incentive to create this rippling, growing job market and subsequent spending boom, IF it can take the credit. And if Treasury suddenly “finds” some war money we’re no longer spending in Iraq, it CAN take credit. The lady with a new job and the guy hired on a second shift at the car company won’t care who gets the credit. What if a prospective borrower didn’t repay the loan? Well, that’s the loan business. It happens, but that’s what the local expert lenders are for. They have two main choices : make quick and reliable choices about loaning, and to grow businesses, so people can earn money, so people can spend money, so more businesses can open…that’s all. They will be able to make a profit—that’s the American way, but not much….interest, yes. Usury, no.
When, after a year, there are hundreds of business growing and hiring, and people buying iPads and diapers and cars, then the Dems MIGHT have a chance in 2012. But even if they don’t, I really don’t care. I only really care if the economy wins.
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