Getting jobbed by Washington

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Column by Jim Flynn

“Job” has many definitions – work, occupation, profession, employment, and others. When a headline reads “Obama says he will focus on job creation,” we know we’re being jobbed.

The British definition of “jobbed” is being victimized by something done ostensibly for the public welfare, but actually done for personal gain. The president’s recent announcement that he has a plan to train 10,000 engineers a year isn’t job creation. It’s a feel-good, re-election campaign announcement that more money will be spent training people for whom no jobs are available.

The president’s highly educated and generously paid council of economic advisers has been pushed out of the jobs discussion in favor of his “Jobs Council” of successful big business executives. Chumming with people who actually create jobs casts a better campaign image.

The president jokes that the architects of his $800 billion 2009 stimulus program had no idea that “shovel ready projects” would take years to get going. Those of us who have participated in hundreds of meetings concerning the design, licensing, financing, and contracts for many multi-million dollar projects know from experience it takes years before a backhoe (not a shovel) breaks ground.

The president and his advisers on the other hand have spent all their working years in academia, community organizing, and government service. Much of the 2009 stimulus money was spent “saving jobs” of state, and local government employees and other supporters of the president’s campaign for re-election.

Government creates jobs more quickly than the private sector, by increasing its bloated bureaucracy. In the first two years of our current Great Recession, Washington added 140,000 employees. Last year the administration added another 80,000. 

In the private sector there are seven million fewer jobs than there were at the start of the Great Recession in 2007. Those jobs aren’t coming back any time soon. Many will never come back.

Washington prefers to tell us unemployment is around 9.1% of the workforce, because that sounds better than 14 million unemployed and 4.4 million out of work more than a year. The 2010 census was even more bleak, reporting 27 million non-working adults.

Economists and political optimists said the 2007 recession was over in 2009. They were wrong. Now they’re hinting we may be in a double-dip recession. Wrong again. We’re still stuck in a deep plunge Great Recession.

There’s an adage that suggests when significant numbers of economists draw the same conclusion, it’s likely they’re all wrong. Lately some economists are suggesting it may take five to 10 more years for a jobs recovery. This time they may be right.

Until debts, foreclosures, war costs, and irresponsible government spending have been dealt with and put behind us our shortage of private sector jobs will likely persist. Hopefully we’re wrong, but we don’t think so.

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