First: I've been extremely busy the last two months for the seven of you who missed me.
Second: Kindergarten Cop is playing on TBS right now as I write, so if I start referencing toomahs and daddies and Maria Shriver, this is why. As if I need to defend a Kindergarten Cop reference in a political rant. On to the rant!
In light of Newt's stunning South Carolina victory in the state that beget John C. Calhoun, famous political spaz and high-strung egomaniac (you read me?), I decided to interrupt my normal news diet of D Listed and Downton Abbey Tumblrs to catch up with the election on ABC's This Week With George Stephanapolio and on the Times site. Overwhelmingly, everything spoken and written was "How can politicians create jobs?" "Here's what I'd do to create jobs." "Obama isn't trying hard enough to create jobs!" JOBS JOBS GOVERNMENT JOBS CREATE GOVERNMENT JOBS OPEN MARRIAGE.
That last one was to make sure you're paying attention.
I am here, as a scholar of The Golden Girls, taco carts, and the deadpan comedy of Arnold Schwarzenneger, to break the news that the United States government cannot create private sector jobs in a capitalist economy. It never has and it never will, unless you count the Post Office and slavery. We believe that politicians can produce jobs because America's been the beneficiary of favorable economic circumstances (again, slavery) for the better part of 300 years and we've had more than a few elected officials who've taken credit for that. It's a lie and many citizens, including our President, believe it. But more importantly: it is bothering me.
How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work." Short answer: we're not China. But the journalists lead with a telling scene between President Obama and Steve Jobs:
When Barack Obama joined Silicon Valley’s top luminaries for dinner in California last February, each guest was asked to come with a question for the president.
But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke, President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?
Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.
Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.
Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.
No, they're not. They've been in China and the Far East for a long time because manufacturers and commerce hos have always gone where labor is cheapest and most profitable since the dawn of time. (Sadface: Jesus' sandals were made in Jerusalem, not Galilee.) No corporation wants to employ more people than absolutely necessary because uhdoi that impacts profits. That our capitalistic, democratic government and its media believes that the federal body can control the global tide of labor is, I feel, extremely detrimental to finding solutions to our real economic problems.
Sure, we can eradicate unions and human rights to lure the bygone steel plants that moved to India back to Democratic-controlled Cleveland, Ohio. That's likely. And of course, states like Alabama can win the contract for a Hyundai plant with cheap tax rates, but every other state competed for those jobs and lost. Business-friendly states are just shuffling the jobs from one place to another.
And our "business-friendly" policies have never ever ever in the history of toomahs (!!) kept a company from moving jobs outside their neck of the woods when they find cheaper places to make goods. Subsidies, tax rebates, deregulation, time, and Milton Friedman's bottled farts haven't kept jobs here, have they? They have not. Twenty-five million Americans are out of work and that statistic is probably generous. To juxtapose this alarming figure with another: the population of Alabama is 4.7 million.
What's also fun about this "No, I can create jobs" GOP shriek-off is that it directly contradicts their ever-present "less government" credo. If you think the government should keep its filthy hands off of the pure "free" market and have an open marriage (just making sure you're still with me), then theoretically that should include job creation too. But in this dour atmosphere, no one's going to put that in a commercial.
Obligatory and tangential side note to the GOP: if you think the government is a great threat to its citizens and it should be as small as possible, why do you want to be in it?
Back to the lie. The most frightening part of it that the Times article reveals is that noted smartie President Obama believes it too. He thinks he can create private sector jobs. As if Steve Jobs would be like, "Yes, Mr. President. I'll move my existing manufacturing and supply chain from China to the United States for a fucking subsidy and tax rebate that Congress will take years to push through." Who is your daddy and what does he do? (!!)
The article continues with cute details about how the people in the Chinese factories who make iPads and iPhones have real shitty lives. Lucky Americans who can afford Apple's stuff, myself included, know the products we love are made at the expense of innocent people's livelihood. We choose to ignore it or stress eat tacos to cope with the guilt. But I don't have to answer to the Chinese government, the one ultimately responsible for shitty iPhone factory working conditions. Btw, I just reached a new level on Angry Birds this week!
But you and I do have to answer to the United States, and because we're not China, the U.S. has to answer to us too. I'm not saying the government shouldn't continue to deficit spend on programs that keep our fellow 25 million unemployed Americans from living in conditions like the poor iPhone factory workers. In the end, I think it's worth it to keep people from living in misery, despite the folks out there who like to use the kindergarten (!!) analogy that a country is like a household and you can't spend more than you earn. Households don't have armies and print money. Back to Mr. Kimball's class, idiots. (!!)
Answers and solutions aren't easy, but they're never going to happen if everyone keeps buying into this false belief that politicians can create jobs or encourage entrepreneurship. No one ever became an entrepreneur because of the government except Blackwater, and those employees have some real shitty working conditions. But I guess the United States government isn't going to admit they have limited powers especially when it's schmoozing with commerce hos like Steve Jobs who write campaign checks.
Unemployment isn't Apple's problem, as hard as we wish the company cared about the American labor market. It's not the President's problem either, though he has to take the blame because that's how capitalist democracies work. It's a global problem with too many rotating, interconnected parts for any one government to control, including China. But there is solace in knowing that Apple makes the products that are opening up lines of communication, knowledge, and freedom to China -- and inspiring cheaper, affordable knockoffs. When the Chinese factory workers have the freedom we take for granted -- protests, strikes, and better living conditions -- then the outputs, supply chains and profit expectations will slow, and Apple and other companies might think about returning to the United States or moving to a place with better human rights. Then we'll all feel better about whatever Apple product is being sold to massive fanfare, probably the iCouch or the iGlass, the lens that lets you see the world in Instagram.
In the meantime, everyone needs to stop yammering about how politicians can "create" jobs and start talking about more important things like open marriage, something we know Arnold Schwarzenneger can get behind. (!!)