MusingsHeaderThis week I’ve been spending lots of time doing research and writing about GMOs for a presentation I’ll be giving Thursday at the request of Iowa State University Extension (ISUE). One might think I’d decide to write about GMO’s in today’s blog post, but I’ve decided to instead cover a topic that’s been bugging me for a long time. Yep, it’s political!

The current Administration claims that rebuilding “the middle class” is one of its highest priorities. In actuality, the middle class has been shrinking… Or so we’ve been told. Millions more people have been added to some type of welfare rolls during the Obama presidency. I’ve read reports stating as much as 50% of our population is collecting some type of aid!

One reason this figure is cloudy is because it’s hard to consistently define “aid.” Regardless of how its defined, entitlements are holding back job creation. Contracts negotiated by unions when the economy was expanding and workers could demand whatever they wanted has come home to roost! Money was not put away as it should have been to fund the future draw of the retirees. The current workforce is being made to fund the retirements.

Yet, our current administration claims “putting Americans to work” is one of its highest priorities! The stated goal is to create more jobs and get our workforce strong and growing. I want to examine where our president thinks we should go and why I don’t think that’s the direction needed: 

  • Close tax loop holes and keep our jobs from going overseas. Now, being trained as a farmer and not an economist (although that is part of my job), I don’t see how more taxes creates new jobs.
  • Build and improve infrastructure to increase jobs. Here again, more taxes are needed to fund the building. Taxes stymie business growth.
  • Fund energy-saving, “green” jobs. Solar panel fields, wind turbines and new ways to fuel our transportation needs will certainly stimulate the economy from new energy efficiency, right? Here again, more taxes are needed to fund them. Unfortunately, America has taxed its cheapest types of energy out of existence. We’re losing cheap energy from coal, nuclear and oil, but cheap energy makes jobs – period!

Speaking of creating jobs… we have a major shortage of semi-skilled workers in Iowa. Folks with a trade school education are needed as welders, electricians and assembly folks. Almost anyone with some type of computer skills can be trained and these types of candidates are in high demand.

When I was trying to hire for my construction company, it was tough to find someone willing to run a cordless drill or operate an air nailer. It didn’t matter what I paid. Honestly, it was hard to motivate people to come to work when they can stay at home and make the same amount of money with better benefits!

Now, I have no problem with someone being on temporary unemployment. It happens. Believe me, I know! Some jobs come and go. Jobs get finished and sometimes the next project doesn’t start right away. But unemployment was never meant to replace employment. After a certain period, say three or six months, something needs to change.

Let’s implement a training program instead. Line up jobs that serve a public purpose, so American taxpayers see some benefit and “underemployed” Americans can regain pride in having a purpose. Not everyone can work just any job, as we all know, but some type of service can be done by a lot of the people “looking” for work. Plus, a training program will help equip people with skills they’ll need to hold full-time employment. Win-win.

Notice that I’m not advocating for a higher minimum wage because honestly, that’s a double whammy: (1) People are less incented to work; and (2) Small businesses can’t afford to pay what the government programs do. I’ve heard those who know how to “work the system” are drawing upwards of $50,000. Minimum wage in Iowa is $7.25, so this person is going to need overtime to make $50K. Why work that hard? Our current system leads to a disincentive to work.

Healthcare is a whole other story. Requiring young workers who don’t need health insurance to have it, or a potential employer to buy it for them, is a serious financial drag. Young, healthy workers should be in huge demand! Let’s not shut them out of the job market. There’s more that I could go into on this topic, like paperwork, but I’m going to keep it simple today.

Let’s keep job creation simple:

  1. Seek low-cost energy options.
  2. Eliminate costly regulations that hamper business.
  3. Provide training rather than entitlements.
  4. Practice fair trade and supply the world, rather than buying from the world.
  5. Keep the government out of jobs that private enterprise can do!