The Incredible Bain Jobs Machine
The Incredible Bain Jobs Machine: In a competitive economy, $5,000 computers become $500 tablets. Consumers get to spend the difference elsewhere in the economy
By Andy Kessler @ WSJ (July 16, 2012)
Did Mitt Romney and Bain Capital help office-supply retailer Staples create 88,000 jobs? 43,000? 252? Actually, Staples probably destroyed 100,000 jobs while creating millions of new ones.
Since 1986, Staples has opened 2,000 stores, eliminating the jobs of distributors and brokers who charged nasty markups for paper and office supplies. But it enabled hundreds of thousands of small (and not so small) businesses to stock themselves cheaply and conveniently and expand their operations.
It’s the same story elsewhere. Apple employs just 47,000 people, and Google under 25,000. Like Staples, they have destroyed many old jobs, like making paper maps and pink “While You Were Out” notepads. But by lowering the cost of doing business they’ve enabled innumerable entrepreneurs to start new businesses and employ hundreds of thousands, even millions, of workers world-wide—all while capital gets redeployed more effectively.
This process happens during every business cycle and always, always creates jobs. Yet is ignored by policy mavens.
It is now four years after the wheels fell off our financial system. The government has tried every gimmick to revive the economy: fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, loan write-downs, foreclosure modifications—all duds. It seems like no one remembers how an economy creates jobs anymore. The right answer, in fact the only answer, for jobs and better living standards, is productivity.
In good times, no one notices. But in slow-growth economies, especially in the last 10 years, regulations and hiring rules and employer mandates and environmental anchors have had a cumulative dampening effect on productivity.
How can government do the right thing to help productivity and the employment it fosters? Get out of the way. Every government-mandated low-flow toilet, phosphorous-free dishwasher detergent, CFL light bulb, and carbon-emission regulation is another obstacle on the way to a productive, job-creating economy that produces things consumers really want.