We are reminded time and time again that the only human beings in a position to rescue us from our economic woes are the enormously wealthy “job creators.” The bad news is that they are just too uncertain about the economy to tap their accumulated wealth parked far far away from City Heights to start investing again in the US, anywhere in the US.
We are also told that they simply can’t do their “job creating” job without more tax cuts and less government regulation. And they also want us to know that their feelings are very very hurt that we don’t love them enough. None of these wealthy aggrieved individuals live on my block, so I am of course getting this information second hand, but I extend the invitation for tea, even though it will not be accompanied with much in the way of sympathy.
A while back I talked to Jay Levine, who owns PIP Printing on El Cajon Boulevard. I asked him what it would take to keep his small business financially healthy. “Customer demand!” he responded without a pause. ” You mean tax breaks won’t keep everything afloat for you?” I asked. He quickly ticked off what a tax break wouldn’t do. It would not encourage him to hire additional people. It would not encourage him to buy more equipment.
Jay was clear and unequivocal when he emphasized that customer demand and only customer demand would result in additional staff and equipment. This was a no-brainer for Jay, but Congress, despite falling all over itself in extolling the sanctity of small business and job creation doesn’t seem inclined to act on that that message.
If you take a minute to think about it, there is a tremendous amount of customer demand in City Heights. Because City Heights is a poor community we tend to put every cent we have back into the economy. We are uncertain whether our wages, too often minimum, are going to cover the rent (or mortgage), utilities, bus passes or gas and car repairs, food, clothes for our kids, school supplies and monthly assistance we send to family members. We live without much in the way of discretionary spending, and even less in the way of savings. So yes, we too are uncertain about the economy but we don’t have the luxury of sulking and waiting for better times.
I feel confident saying that none of my neighbors has parked any excess wealth in a Cayman Island tax shelter. We suck up the sales tax and the property tax and the fees that are now levied in lieu of tax hikes. And we pay our income tax. In City Heights, many of us have paid a higher marginal tax rate on our salaries as teachers, librarians, postal workers, cashiers and admin aides than the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Here’s the reality–you and I are the real job creators. Think about where you spend your money and how much you spend. Imagine if you somehow ended up with two hundred dollars more a month or even two thousand dollars more a month. Would you be speculating on derivatives and investing in hedge funds? I suspect you would be pumping that money back into the economy–seeing a dentist, buying prescription glasses, getting your car repaired, a haircut, enjoying a dinner or movie out, buying shoes for your growing teenager or paying for a much needed roof or plumbing repairs in your house.
Perhaps you could even make the payments on your underwater mortgage, monthly installments on your student or credit card debt or pay the fees and lawyer costs to finally achieve legal status in the country. It could make a difference in whether you buy your monthly medications and can still afford food. Going without those things is the grim reality of “economic uncertainty” for too many of us. But we don’t “invest” in those things simply because we don’t have the money to do so.
The lives for the majority of us are going to be in the tank unless there are not only jobs but jobs that pay a livable wage and include health insurance and sick leave. Our economy remains sluggish because we are continuing to lose jobs in the public sector. Thump a public employee all you want, but behind the hypocrisy and hype is an expectation that there will be teachers, police, home health aides, firefighters and public health nurses and librarians when we need them. We need them.
What should be said about the most profitable corporations balking at paying living wages while paying obscenely low taxes and receiving taxpayer funded subsidies? Why is there political foot dragging when it comes to investing in infrastructure which would also result in significant job creation?
The path to correcting those fiscal failings is not by giving more hand outs in the form of income and corporate tax cuts to the 1%. But that is exactly what the Paul Ryan budget would do. Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential pick of Ryan cements the Republican allegiance to those among us who never earn a pay check or exist on a Social Security or retirement check. Imagine that– people so enormously wealthy that they don’t have to work because their money works for them while they are awake and while they are asleep.
We recently paid José Luis $3,500 to dig up and repair our sewer line which was on our neighbor’s property, under their cement walkway. Who knew?!! That was an unanticipated significant financial setback for us. José Luis spent five days of back breaking work jack hammering the sidewalk and replacing the broken sewer line. He earned every penny and it didn’t occur while he was sleeping.
Is there anyone among us who seriously believes that shoveling tax breaks to the same wealthy individuals and institutions which ripped us off with subprime mortgage loans, crushing college debt and publicly subsidized high credit card interest will create jobs for us? This is what the Republican party is telling us.
Here’s what job creation looks like in City Heights–people like you and I create jobs for people like José Luis. People like José Luis hire more people if there is a demand. We are the real job creators. It is a dangerous lie when anyone tells us otherwise.