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Lily Eskelsen's picture

I’m sorry. I’m not normally a violent person. But how can you not want to slap the next clown that routinely and without an pinky fingernail-size of evidence continues to characterize the mega-wealthiest amongst us as “Job Creators”?

A bona-fide mega-wealthy rich guy is Nick Hanauer. He’s got millions and millions and says he wants politicians and pundits bent on protecting his millions and millions to cease and desist calling him a Job Creator. He’s had great ideas. He’s taken big risks. He’s made smart business bets. And God bless him for it. But he says, “I’ve never been a job creator.”

He says if any jobs were created by his ideas and risks and bets, it’s because there were customers for what he was selling. Without customers, there’s no one to buy your product or service. And if customers don’t have jobs and decent pay to go along with those jobs, they can’t buy what you’re selling.

Customers with a paycheck create jobs. And when customers lose their jobs and their paychecks, giving all the tax breaks and tax credits and tax loopholes in the world to the mega-wealthy won’t create a consumer.

In fact, giving the mega-wealthy more may actually mean you’ve given them some loophole that pays them to create jobs… in China.

It may mean tax rules and loopholes lead Big Business to see it in their best interest to lay people off and ask those who remain to do the work of two, or cut the pay or their benefits of frightened employees who know that there’s a waiting line of unemployed who are giving up hope that they will find something. Anything. Including your job.

In short, the mega-wealthy are going to protect their bottom lines, and even as we speak, they are fighting for more and more ways to maximize their profits, jobs be damned. If profits increase by moving jobs to another country where they can pay people starvation wages while damaging someone else’s environment with impunity, why wouldn’t they do it?

One can make the case that the American worker is as much a victim of mega-wealth as the beneficiary. Any second-grader could do the math. The rich have been getting richer, and as tax breaks for big business and big wealth have exploded beyond reason, jobs here have been shrinking, not growing.

High employment and millions without a good paycheck are the problems to be solved here. Not how to filter more riches into the pockets of the “haves”.

Five million good people; people who were working hard; people who want to work hard again, have not been able to find a job. Their unemployment benefits are about to run out.

President Obama has proposed an extension of their federal unemployment benefits – benefits that are providing no more than modest food on the table and a roof over a family’s head. But he can’t get the votes he needs from the folks who would take a bullet for the Job Creators.

Here’s something that may seem counter-intuitive to the “Rich People Are Job Creators” security detail.

People on unemployment benefits are not rich people. But every penny they get in these vital benefits is spent on something that creates a job for someone else here at home. The grocery store clerk. The electric company meter reader. The gas station cashier. People on unemployment insurance aren’t taking European vacations.

They’re living check to check while they hit the pavement, ready to take any honest job that comes along. And every dime they spend on what they need to get by until the next job interview is spent in their communities, keeping their friends and neighbors working.

Five million men and women are in danger of losing these modest benefits unless Congress acts on the president’s proposal.

Some (ironically the “Rich People Are Job Creators” guys) want trade offs, demanding cuts in public projects and services to “balance” the dollars it will take to extend the unemployment benefits.

from Mother Jones

Cuts that would lay off special education teachers, construction workers, health care workers, public safety workers, park rangers, cancer researchers, librarians – their cuts would result in the loss of government and contract workers, perhaps in the millions.

This is crazy. We would throw millions of men and women out of good, middle-class jobs to extend the unemployment benefits of millions of men and women looking for good, middle-class jobs?

Alternate proposals to ask the mega-wealthy to even approximate a shared sacrifice in a modest tax increase are met with screams that we must put our patriotic muscle behind protecting our national Job Creators.

Indeed, mega-wealth has been protected by policy design, part of that design being to scream only carefully crafted words like Job Creators to replace less poetic verbiage like Rich Guys Who Don’t Pay Their Fair Share. To be against the protection of mega-wealth is to be against America. For thirty years, politicians have been more than patriotic.

For thirty years, the current rules have benefited the top 1%, of Rich Guys. The current rules have made it possible for the top 1% of incomes to go up 275%. Middle-class incomes went up 40% in that time period. Poor incomes went up 18%.

I say the Job Creators are the 99% who clip discount coupons from the Sunday newspaper so they can get 4 cans for $1. Job Creators are the middle-class and the poor and the folks scrapping by on unemployment checks who buy shoes for their kids and oatmeal and a bus pass. They’re customers.

And this country would be in a whole different position if we had understood that the middle-class and making sure they have what they need to stay in the middle-class – a decent paycheck, a good public school for their kids, retirement security - is what made this country an economic power in the first place. What’s happening is a travesty, and I’m trying not to become violent.

I believe in the peaceful, political process, and I’ll do it.

I will call my member of Congress to support the President’s plan to extend unemployment benefits and funding for more jobs. I will talk to my friends and neighbors to call their members of Congress. But I wish I could do more.

I wish I could slap every single one of those pundits, pontificators and politicians who’s forgotten that the primary Job Creators in this or any other country are millions and millions of ordinary, middle-class hard-working people with good jobs.

Lily Eskelsen is the Vice President of the National Education Association, publisher of the education blog Lily’s Blackboard as well as a contributing blogger to Prior to her prominent position at NEA, she had a successful decades-long career as a teacher. Among her many achievements, she was named Utah’s Teacher of the Year in 1989.

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