The person who should be the next Republican candidate for President should have a clear message on employment. Whether or not the unemployment rate is what the Obama administration claims it is, by every measure America is not where it used to be on employment.
Specifically, small business startups are down. Business ownership in general is down. Self-employment is down. A smart candidate would take a clear stance on this. Here’s what I would want to hear from a candidate who would earn my vote:
“If you’re unemployed today, tell us what stands between you and self-employment. What regulation, fee, license, tax, or other red tape stops you from practicing your trade in today’s marketplace. What can we do to help you start a company doing whatever it is you do best.”
In most cases this isn’t passing laws, it’s repealing laws and regulations that are hindering startup and expansion. Excessive fees and paperwork, complex regulatory infrastructures that require potential business owners to spend money retaining counsel to help them through the process, and other barriers discourage people from trying. This is what Conservatives mean when we rail on big government: it shouldn’t require days and weeks of investigation, paperwork, and licensing for someone to start baking cakes and selling them from their house.
One of the most important turnarounds for our economy comes when someone goes from collecting unemployment and other benefits to being a tax-paying worker. It’s great when companies grow and hire, and we certainly want to encourage that too. It’s quicker, though, to motivate and position people at being self-sufficient. The consensus is that since World War II and especially in the digital age, America is shifting towards a services-based economy. This would seem to lead to the conclusion that it would be easier to start companies; more houses means more need for electricians, plumbers, and handymen. More cars on the road means more need for qualified mechanics, tow truck operators, and related services (like Uber).
The Internet opens up a whole new avenue to employment. Traditional jobs like writing, marketing, image design, software development, and many more have become Internet-enabled and companies routinely hire skilled individuals on a project basis from anywhere in the world, assuming they’re qualified to do the work. While this may create downward wage pressure, some income is surely better than no income. The Internet also provides a way for people with certain skills to train others in that skill for income, even if the learners are far away from the teacher.
In today’s hectic world where a traditional 9-to-5 job may not be available in the marketplace near a worker, there are still many ways to earn income. We often hear candidates talk about manufacturing jobs and bringing manufacturing back to the USA. This certainly doesn’t hurt, but it isn’t a complete picture. Rallying people around self-employment is another important avenue to regaining our lost prosperity. Hopefully a Republican will find this message and bring it to the people as part of their 2016 Presidential run.