Friday, December 4, 2009

What the Jobs Summit was Really About

Yesterday the White House hosted a "jobs summit" that brought in 135 corporate CEOs, labor leaders, academics, economists, and government officials. President Obama said he wanted to generate ideas and hear from the attendees what the White House could do to help the jobs situation. The summit then broke into brainstorming groups on assorted topics.

All good and fine. But I feel obligated to point out that not everyone at that meeting has the goal of creating American jobs. Corporate leaders don't want to create jobs, let alone jobs in America. They want to increase profits for their corporation. Job creation is sometimes an unintended corollary of that. But a big-time CEO does not wake up each morning wondering how his company can provide more solid jobs for the American people. If anything he wakes up wondering how he can squeeze more out of his workers and avoid democracy's meddling in his business--workers organizing, environmental regulation, occupational safety laws, taxes, etc. (In most cases, he'd be a bad boss if he didn't.)

What the jobs summit was really about was the Obama administration broadcasting this message:
"We are about to do something--maybe even something big--about job creation, and we are approaching this in an open-minded, bipartisan, non-ideological way. See? Look who we invited to the White House."
I think it's kind of the same way they approached the health care debate, going way out of their way to include conservatives. And what they should have learned from that adventure was that Republicans are not their friends. They don't want to help the president find solutions for the American people. They want to pursue their own narrow interests. I'm afraid there's a similar lesson to be learned about jobs. We're not all on the same team. Not everyone comes to the table with benevolence and goodwill toward man.

Obviously Obama knows this. So I'm left to conclude that it is still part of the White House's long-term strategy to project an open-minded and pragmatic image. If maintaining that image helps him politically isolate and wallop his right-wing opponents, then great, but most of the big issues facing us will require isolating and walloping the right wing.


Camp Papa said...

We swallow all manner of corporate perfidy in the name of increased value to the shareholder. If I hurt my neighbor for pay, I am a criminal. If I hurt my neighbor for a penny increase in my stock value, I am a free enterprise hero.

Expecting a mega-corporate CEO to be interested in creating jobs is like expecting a fox to be more interested in veterinary medicine than in eating the chickens.

Chris said...

Should the government help create jobs by funding projects like the proposed Sun Rail in Florida? Should the people of North Florida be required to help pay for something that benefits only central Florida? Does this inadvertantly benefit the people of North Florida in that their state wins out in the long run? Or are they right in tea bagging the proposal because it is not fair? It's a complicated issue but ultimately I believe FL should fund it because it benefits everyone in a utilitarian way. I think the arguements against it are mostly rooted in selfishness.