In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 5, 2017 at 1:42 pm

According to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll, voters know what they want to hear when President-elect Donald Trump gives his Inaugural Address on January 20.

  • Seventy-five percent of voters want him to talk about bringing manufacturing jobs back from other countries and keeping manufacturing jobs in the United States; and
  • Fifty-two percent  percent want to hear Trump discuss his threats of slapping tariffs on imported goods made in China and Mexico.

The poll was conducted December 28-29, surveying 2,000 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

During the 2016 Presidential race, Trump attacked American corporations that operate overseas and import their products back here, or that are considering plans to move more jobs overseas.

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Donald Trump

And he threatened to slap high import duties and tariffs on products made in Mexico, China and other countries that impose similar barriers on American-made goods.

Yet, for decades, American politicians ignored the single greatest cause of unemployment among Americans: The refusal of employers to hire.

Employers like Kenneth Fisher, chief executive officer of Fisher Investments, who said, in 2012: “Believe it or not, I’m for fewer jobs, not more.”

In the Christmas Eve, 2012 issue of Forbes, he asserted: “Job Growth is Overrated.”

“Throughout 2012 we heard politicians and pundits of all stripes yammering endlessly on the need for job growth—that we don’t have enough jobs. It’s pure rubbish.”

Ken Fisher (@KennethLFisher) | Twitter

Kenneth Fisher

According to Fisher, jobs are actually signs of weakness in the economy. Fewer employees can produce more products—and that’s good for us all.

For Fisher, the template for future economic success is Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer:  “With Walmart you get an awe-inspiring company at 13 times my January 2014 earnings estimate, with a 2.2% dividend yield.”

Of course, it’s easy for Fisher—a billionaire—to take a “What? Me Worry?” attitude about the unemployment problems facing millions of willing-to-work Americans.

And it’s certainly easier for him to identify with his fellow billionaire boys club members, the Waltons, than with the low-paid employees of Walmart.

In December, 2013, Walmart announced that it would deny health insurance to newly-hired employees who work less than 30 hours a week.

Walmart eliminates healthcare coverage for certain workers if their average work-week falls below 30 hours—which regularly happens at the direction of company managers.

Fisher certainly doesn’t have to worry about getting top-notch medical care anytime he thinks he needs it.

Another thing that Fisher clearly admires about Walmart: Its gross profits.  In 2016, its sales revenues stood at 482.13 billion.

In 2016, C. Douglas McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Stores, made $19,404,042 in total compensation. Of this total:

  • $1,263,231 came as a salary;
  • $3,406,971 was received as a bonus;
  • $0 was received in stock options;
  • $14,270,786 was awarded as stock; and
  • $463,054 came from other types of compensation.

On the other hand: Until April, 2015, only about 6,000 Walmart employees out of more than 1.2 million nationwide were paid the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage.

In April, 2015, the company’s starting pay became $9 an hour, and the average pay for full-time retail workers there became about $13 an hour.

This raise wasn’t prompted by generosity from Walmart’s owners. It came came from sheer necessity.

For more than 50 years, Walmart paid its employees such depressed wages that many full-time workers couldn’t live on them. The company became notorious for helping its new employees to sign up for state and federal welfare programs.

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This made Walmart the single largest private-sector beneficiary of public assistance. According to Barry Ritzholtz, of Rithholz Wealth Management, American taxpayers “have been subsidizing the wages of the publicly traded, private-sector company to the tune of $2.66 billion in government largess a year.”

As a result, turnover at Walmart has been correspondingly high–at 44%, as compared with six percent at Costco.

And Fisher conveniently ignores the huge emotional role that being employed plays in the United States.

The majority of Americans–especially men–derive their sense of identity from what they do for a living.

Ask a man, “What do you do?” and he’s almost certain to reply: “I’m a fireman.”  Or “I’m a salesman.”

To be unemployed in America is considered by most Americans–including the unemployed–the same as being a bum.

And Republicans are quick to point accusing fingers at those willing-to-work Americans who can’t find willing-to-hire employers.

According to Republicans such as Mitt Romney and Herman Cain: If you can’t find a job, it’s entirely your fault.

And when Republicans are forced–by public pressure or Democratic majorities–to provide benefits to the unemployed, these nearly always come at a price.

Those receiving subsistence monies are, in many states, required to undergo drug-testing, even though there is no evidence of widespread drug-abuse among the unemployed.

But America can put an end to this “I’ve-got-mine-and-the-hell-with-you” job-killing arrogance of people like Kenneth Fisher.

The answer lies in three words: Employers Responsibility Act (ERA).

If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor, an ERA would ensure full-time, permanent and productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans.

And it would achieve this without raising taxes or creating controversial government “make work” programs.

Such legislation would legally require employers to demonstrate as much initiative for hiring as job-seekers are now expected to show in searching for work.

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