Monday, August 1, 2011

Nobody creates jobs. That's Mr. Nobody to you, Mr. Wittgenstein

Stop using the term "job-creators" to address capitalists and entrepreneurs. People don't own businesses because they want to create jobs. They own businesses because business owners are permitted to profit through the exploitation of labor when and only when employees cooperate in their exploitation in exchange for agreed upon benefits such as safe working conditions and health insurance that they might not otherwise be able to afford. Cooperating employers and employees create jobs.

So let's get this straight. Let's begin using language properly. Let's think about what we say. And when you hear somebody say this, let's appropriately respond.

1. The Free Market, not as we want it to be, but as it is. We should insist that family, friends, teachers, media, and politicians properly talk about the market. As it stands, in our market, we don't--some would say, we should not--do things for others, we do with others, as in alongside others. When capitalists tell you something that clearly goes against their own principles, it's OK to admit they're lying for a reason. After all, Capitalists believe that a free market works best when people act according to their own desires without interest in others, in society, in anything actually. Capitalists believe that through this self-interested behavior and the liberty it establishes that the most happiness for a greatest number of people will result. The market, then, is said to promote a liberal social order that cultivates and nurtures our free society without the demand for much regulation. In this neoclassical framework, this Austrian dream of capitalism, there is no such person as a job creator. Thus, we live in a society where people cooperate with one another for their own benefit, not the benefit of their partners.

2. Ethics. It's unethical to permit a wealthy minority to insist that employment and labor is a measure of their magnanimity. As I've already noted, it's a lie. But it's an especially damaging lie because it's meant to manipulate the cooperation between employers and employees. It insists that the wealthy are the elite and the sine qua non for democratic culture. In other words, it's a veiled threat. It's anti-democratic. It recalls feudalism.

3. Unearned Ambition. Moreover, no one would think to call laborers "profit-creators" and distribute propaganda via popular media that states taxing workers disencourages their desire to work. And we know why. We heap unearned praise on the wealthiest and unearned scorn on the poorest without much critical thought. I have two things to say about this. The working classes--and middle class, whatever that means nowadays--do pay a greater share of their profit in taxes than do their employers. We know this because wealthy people have many more ways to create more wealth. Working class folks have their labor and that's pretty much it. When we permit discussions about taxation to become discussions about value and labor, we're cheating the poor. And we're being patently unfair. Wealthy people should pay more taxes. They make more money. It's no accident that talk about the job creators is always parallel to the discussion about how much more in taxes wealthy people pay compared to poorer people and how unfair that is.

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