A friend of a friend recently sent some email with a few of his thoughts on the rhetoric of some politicians who are claiming that tax increases will kill job creation. Our mutual friend forwarded this on to me. I thought the note expressed well a very interesting point, and deserved a wider audience.
Thus, with his permission, I reproduce his note here with no changes (except formatting):
We hear these days — from Republicans and other ultra-right-wing conservatives — that CEOs “create” jobs. And that this is what justifies their enormous salaries. And also that this is what justifies reducing income taxes on the rich (already at or near historical lows in the history of this country).
So, I got to thinking. Is this true? Do CEOs really “create” jobs.
My conclusion? No, they don’t. What really creates jobs is advances in technology and invention. Go back over the entire history of this country. Whether one is talking about the invention of the modern (i.e., step-geared) water wheel (allowing the creation of factory jobs in textile and other mills), the steam engine (allowing the creation of deep mining), the canal lock (allowing the building of the first low-cost long-range transportation network in this country – the canal boom of the late 1700s and early 1800s), the steel-bladed plow (allowing the opening of the old Northwest Territories — Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc — and the great plains to agriculture), the cotton gin, the stage coach, rubber, the Baltimore clipper, the “New England” or “Nova Scotia” clipper ship, the railroad locomotive, the gas lamp, plumbing, the indoor sink and toilet, sewer lines, water pumping stations, the telegraph, photography, steel, the fountain pen, the paddle-wheel river steamer, ocean steamers, the vacuum can, the screw propeller, water turbines, steam turbines, the internal combustion engine, the electrical generator, the telephone, electric streetcars, the typewriter, the light bulb, the vacuum diode, the radio, the Deforest electronic amplifying tube, the automobile, nitroglycerine, TNT, the airplane, the helicopter, audio records, motion pictures, the X-ray machine, radio tuners, the zipper, the superheterodyne radio circuit, the ski lift, the arc welder, insulin, frozen food, the spiral notebook, the loud speaker, contact lenses, television, the aerosol can, the safety razor, liquid-fueled rockets, penicillin, plastic, the analog computer, the jet engine, the electron microscope, the Polaroid camera, FM radio, radar, the photocopier, the ball-point pen, Teflon, freeze-dried food, the digital computer, synthetic rubber, sustainable nulcear fission, the microwave oven, releasable ski bindings, the mobile telephone, the transistor, velcro, the credit card, video tape, the bar code, teflon, the solar cell, antibiotics, the integrated circuit, the microchip, the audio cassette, the video disk, CAT scanners, kevlar, electronic fuel injection, computers with integrated circuits, the internet, random access memory, the bar-code scanner, the personal computer, the computer mouse, the ATM, the daisy wheel printer, the floppy disc, the dot matrix printer, the food processor, the word processor, video games, gene-splicing, the laser printer, the ink-jet printer, the MRI, the Walkman, roller blades, genetically-engineered pharmaceuticals, the CD-ROM, the DVD, the fuel cell, solar panels, wind turbines, the iPod, hybrid automobiles, etc, etc, etc, etc.
It’s science and technology that creates jobs. CEOs merely manage companies. Some competently, some not.
Why do the media and the American people buy into such grotesque distortions of truth? I can only conclude that it is due to the deliberate and wanton destruction of the American educational system — begun during the Reagan Administration. How else can one explain the out-of-work Ohio factory worker who consistently votes Republican — and thus votes for elimination of student loans, privatization of community colleges and state universities (with enormous increases in tuition costs), elimination of the U.S. Postal Service, elimination of muncipal services such as trash collection and transit systems, higher gasoline prices, elimination of Social Security, elimination of Medicare, tax-breaks for the ultra-rich but not the middle class or blue-collar class, and — most saliently — the continued removal of American jobs off-shore to foreign countries? That out-of-work Ohio factory worker is voting very directly against his own personal interests and those of his children and family, but is too stupid to know it.
— Eliot Gardner