‘Just the facts’ presented about 
Mesa County’s jobs and economy

Once again, repeat after me: “The government doesn’t create jobs. Only the private sector creates jobs.”

Now, go finish your red Kool-Aid.

There it was last weekend, the subscript to a front-page headline in your Saturday Daily Sentinel once again debunking the mythology that seems to permeate much current politically-correct thinking.

“Most employees receive paychecks from government, health care, retail,” it said, filling in some blanks under the banner headline “Mesa County’s largest employers.” 

I can hardly wait to hear the responses from my friends who use only the far right side of their brains. 

It seems that six of our top 10 employers are purely government entities. School District 51, Mesa County, the state of Colorado, the city of Grand Junction, the Veterans Administration Hospital and Colorado Mesa University combined provide nearly 7,100 total jobs, according to figures provided to Sentinel reporter Emily Shockley. 

Throw in area nonprofits such as Mesa Developmental Services, Hilltop, Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado and health care providers such as St. Mary’s Hospital, Community Hospital, Family Health West, Colorado West Mental Health, Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans, which rely on government programs for much of their revenues, and you add nearly 5,200 additional jobs.

And you also have 15 of Mesa County’s top 25 paycheck providers.

In the purely private sector, only City Market cracks the top 10. It and the remaining nine private-sector employers in the top 25, add 2,644 jobs to the mix. And that’s assuming United Companies would employ all of its 264 workers if it had no government work to do and that SM Stoller would be around without its work for the federal government. Together Stoller and the U.S. Department of Energy provide 168 jobs.

This is not to place any value judgments on government versus private-sector employment. It’s “just the facts,” as Sgt. Joe Friday used to say on “Dragnet.” 

Nor should we ignore the fact that those government jobs are funded by taxpaying workers and businesses. But it’s also readily apparent that a good chunk of those taxes are being withheld from the paychecks of government workers.  Many of the jobs they and their counterparts in the private sector hold wouldn’t be around without those government programs reviled by some around here.

Let’s also explore another bit of popular political mythology — that private-sector experience is the best preparation for governing. It’s a popular line in local, state and national campaigns, one I used myself a time or two in my own efforts to get elected, but it mostly ignores some significant differences between the public and private endeavors.

When you gather your private-sector team around the conference table or countertop, you’re dealing mostly with folks you selected (or have the power to de-select.) On the public side, many on your team are selected for you by voters. They may not have the same goals and might have a very different view of their responsibilities to their constituents. 

When you’re managing a private business, you’re able to select your target markets and/or the demographic groups you intend to serve. On the public side, your “market” is, or should be 100 percent of the population, regardless of age, income or (and sometimes this seems lost on our representatives in Congress) political affiliation.

In government, a surplus is seen as unreasonable and a reason to cut revenues. That’s not likely the case at City Market, West Star, McDonalds, United Companies, Star Tek, Choice Hotels, Union Pacific, Capco, Stoller or The Daily Sentinel — the private sector firms that cracked the list of top 25 job employers in Mesa County. Their surplus, called profit, is a cause for celebration and a justifiable reward for good management and a job well done.

Again, no value judgments. I’ve managed employees and businesses for others, signed plenty of private paychecks in my own enterprise, still operate a small business and have occasionally collected some government paychecks along the way. I’ve worked hard to generate a profit in the private sector and been forced to return some surpluses while in office.

But I do like to sip my Kool-Aid with a side of reality such as the one provided to all of us in Shockley’s front-page Sentinel story a few days ago.

Jim Spehar cashed another government paycheck, his first Social Security check, just last week. Your comments are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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Jim Spehar’s Tuesday column – “’Just the facts’ were presented about county jobs” – debunks two myths which underlie the Romney-Ryan campaign.  First, the “government” does create jobs – as well as providing the infrastructure upon which all businesses depend for their success.  Second, success in business does not necessarily provide experience that is transferable to public governance.
  This latter insight is particularly applicable to Mitt Romney – who was the direct beneficiary of a $10 million loan write-off by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the indirect beneficiary of “corporate welfare” redistributed to Bain Capital through a distorted and unfair tax code, but all in the name of mythological “free enterprise”.
  The financial strategy of Bain Capital was to cherrypick companies ripe for take-over because of their cash-on-hand or fully funded pension plans.  When Bain Capital’s infusion of private equity into a marginal or failing business enabled that endeavor to survive, Romney justifiably made money.  Because of a perversion of the tax law, profits distributed to partners in venture capital firms are taxed as capital gains, not “income”.
  However, if that business failed, Bain Capital did not loose its investors’ money (as one would expect in the context of true “capitalism”), but rather also made money – having legally absconded with the business’s cash reserves and/or mortgaged its pension funds (which were insured by the federal government and thus by American taxpayers).
  Moreover, taxpayers also picked up the tab for unemployment benefits payable to the hundreds (if not thousands) of former employees who had lost their jobs; for the Food Stamps for which many of those now newly jobless workers became eligible; and for the emergency room visits and other medical expenses incurred by families who had lost their medical insurance – thanks to Bain Capital’s involvement.
  Romney and Bain Capital used financial spreadsheets to maximize profits by targetting “low hanging fruit” – and by “outsourcing” thousand of American jobs.
  As Spehar suggests, the decisions faced by a President of the United States are not so easily reducable to spreadsheets.  Those “easy” decisions are made by subordinates in the various cabinet departments.  A President deals with the most unpredictable situations and is handed only the most difficult decisions – where there may be no “right answers” – and cannot cherrypick either the challenges he will confront or the other elected officials upon whom he must rely.
 
                Bill Hugenberg

Happy belated birthday, Jim!

Jim Spehar’s “Just the facts” might be better called “just the sophistry”.
Spehar confuses his desire to avoid “values judgments” with his inability to articulate with clarity the specific mechanics of Economics 101. In the process of doing that, he completely ignores the reality-based differences between the manufacturing and service sectors of any economy. Government is ostensibly a “service” sector, hence the misleading euphemisms “public service” and “public servant.”
Spehar might benefit from reading Ludwig von Mises “Human Action” and comparing it to Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital”. I had to wade through the latter twice to realize the entire work failed because Marx incorrectly presumed “value” was an objective thing regulatable by government. It isn’t. It’s an individual subjective notion existing only in the eye of the beholder. (You might love liver, I hate it. What’s it’s “value”?)
Spehar mistakenly sees wealth in terms of being “money”. It isn’t. Wealth is material THINGS which have to be made by LABOR and either used directly by the maker or sold to willing buyers for a profit in the marketplace. LABOR creates all THINGS which are made. Without profit, all enterprises go broke. Without profit, there can be no taxes for government, part of the alleged “service” sector, to forcibly collect and fund its exploits and agendas.
Food, clothing and houses are material THINGS which have to be made by labor for human survival. Things are made by MAKERS who provide REAL jobs making things useful to humans. Government is a TAKER. Government is not reason or logic, it is FORCE. It doesn’t make either things, profits or real jobs. It takes the labor (via coercion/taxation) of the Maker class.
I realize full well that the government clerk who goes home at the end of a hard day with tired feet can’t be convinced she doesn’t have a real “maker” job. But it might be explained to her in a comprehensive essay on the difference between flexible manipulation-based political money and inflexible commodity mediums of exchange. She might also benefit from understanding the inherent unsustainability and injustice in legal tender laws which politicians hate to talk about.
But that is too long a discussion for this space. Plus Spehar, in all his sophistic glory (or ignorance), would call that “far right”.

Where does Mr. Wilkenson place private service sector jobs (jobs that do not “make things”), since the service sector is much greater than the manufacturing sector of the US economy?

It seems obvious to me that food, clothing and shelter are a more important priority than “service sector” considerations. It is a complex study well worth the undertaking.
For any persons who have intellectually serious questions, rather than merely mindlessly supporting an unexamined political agenda, I highly recommend “Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis”, by Ludwig Von Mises - http://bit.ly/PGxvBY and “The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism”, by Friedrich Hayek - http://bit.ly/SREerc
Both can be purchased as books or read free online and downloaded as pdf files.

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