My Advice for the Chamber of Commerce: Shut Up and Hire Somebody!

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue. (Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

The media advisory advised that U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue would be offering ideas to immediately create jobs and spur the economy. And that the Chamber will be bringing these ideas to Congress and the President this month. Excellent, we’re all for jobs. And what ideas might those be? The usual suspects: investing in infrastructure and energy, relaxing unnecessary regulations, (meaning, put a muzzle on that pesky National Labor Relations Board,) that sort of thing. “Times are tough again this Labor Day, but employers continue doing their best to support America’s workers,” said Randy Johnson, the Chamber’s senior vice president of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits. Of course they are. Which explains our 9.1% unemployment rate.

Mr. Donahue, I know this might sound crazy, but here’s my idea about job creation— why don’t you hire somebody.

Here’s the way this works: the U.S. needs to add some two million jobs to replace those lost during the Great Recession. The U.S. Chamber, by its own accounting, represents more than three million businesses. So if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce adds somebody to its payroll, and every company that is represented by the Chamber does likewise, it’s a jobs creation engine. Easy, isn’t it? America needs jobs, and you have the ability to create them. No need for Congressional intervention. No need for policy wonking. How simple is this, Donohue?

I know, I’m missing the point. Companies add jobs only if they have clairvoyance. Wait, not clairvoyance—clarity! Holy clarity, let’s give them some. Let’s get everyone to sign onto the plan. That’s clarity. They would know that there are now an additional 3,000,000 customers for everything from Big Macs to machine tools. It’s not welfare, it’s an investment in the economy; an investment in America. Even if only one of three Chamber businesses hired somebody the unemployment rate would drop by half. Yes, you are asking the requisite question: what’s the return on that investment? The IRR, as they say in the C-Suites. Fair enough. But this is America, Tom, not some Euro Frog welfare state: let’s challenge your companies with figuring out how to make an investment in another job pay off. Our engineers and managers and worker bees have become used to figuring how to do more with less. Now let’s really test them: how do you do more with more? Perplexing yes, but I’m willing to bet they could figure it out. This is America, we created the Pet Rock and the Snuggie: utterly unnecessary, but millions of them have been sold.

And here’s the other thing, Tom. With all those new jobs being created and the economy expanding, the Chamber wouldn’t have to lay out so much money greasing the palms of Congress. Don’t get technical on me; I know you’re not paying payola, merely contributing to an open and healthy democratic (SMALL d) debate by bankrolling grass roots campaigns and lobbying efforts. But we’re talking about efficient capitalism here, man. The less you have to lay out for lobbying, the less your members have to pay into the Chamber, and the more they have available to hire labor. It’s a virtuous job circle!

Look, you have a job; I have a job (for now); let’s make a few more of them. Happy Labor Day.