I guess you all knew it wouldn’t be long before I waded into some political minefield. But hang in here with me. This post isn’t aimed at any particular candidate or party.
Nearly every candidate for political office, regardless of party affiliation or where they fall on the political spectrum, at some point during their campaign, will promise something to the effect of “I will create more jobs–more good, highly paid jobs–than my opponent!” For some candidates, this is their single biggest campaign promise. In many cases, no doubt, their advisors have identified “job creation” as one of the key issues where they think their candidate can score big points or out-poll the competition.
I heard this bold claim all over the news again just this morning as they replayed sound bites from last night’s big political speech. Again, I’m not picking on that particular candidate because the same words come out of nearly every candidate’s mouth.
So what’s my point? Well I’m here to tell you it’s not the politician’s job to create jobs! If elected, their job is to help create an economic environment and a business climate that encourages companies and entrepreneurs to create jobs. No, this isn’t just a pedantic distinction, or argument about semantics. It’s really important to understand the difference.
Businesses create jobs. From huge multi-national enterprises down to the smallest of small businesses. And entrepreneurs create jobs. Sometimes it might just be their own job (although many entrepreneurs don’t think of what they do as being a “job”). And when conditions are just right, really innovative entrepreneurs and innovative businesses create lots of jobs–often exactly those highly paid jobs that all the politicians love to talk about.
So if nothing else, the job of the elected official is to get out of the way and remove obstacles to business, entrepreneurship and innovation. Sadly, this can mean that a politician that does absolutely nothing is often an improvement over one that builds up governmental obstacles to job creation. I often hear grumbling about how our gridlocked Congress can’t seem to get anything done. Honestly, that’s at least better than some previous Congresses that passed truly awful legislation, killing incentives to create jobs.
Of course, we can do much better than gridlock. We, the electorate, can insist that our elected officials actively take steps to build a policy environment that encourages business expansion, entrepreneurship and innovation. If we do that, the jobs will come.