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Friday, August 12, 2011

Home Depot founder hammers us with propaganda

You'd think that the Wall Street blowout of 2008 would have silenced those voices who insist that the gummint must stop regulating the free enterprise system. Yet we now see a growing propaganda effort -- obviously coordinated, obviously well-funded -- designed to convince Americans that regulation (not lack of demand) is the obstacle preventing "job creators" from creating jobs.

Much of the propaganda I've seen cites a recent interview with Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. He's hardly the only one assailing Obama's allegedly stifling regulations on business: You can find more or less the same words spewing out of dozens of spigots.

When Investors Business Daily (playing the role of Mr. Interlocutor) asked Marcus what was the single biggest impediment to job growth, he answered:
The U.S. government. Having built a small business into a big one, I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we'd tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business. And I mean every day. It's become stifling.
This quote was sent out to millions of people in various mass-mailings. Several examples ended up in my own humble inbox.

My question to Mr. Marcus: Could you humor us with a few specifics?

We didn't see this coordinated anti-regulation campaign during the Dubya years. The recent propaganda bombardment would lead one to believe that the problem has grown much, much worse under Obama. But, strangely, nobody offers any actual examples of onerous regulations in place today that were not in place throughout the 2001-2007 period.

Gosh. Could it be that the regulatory environment is pretty much unchanged? Could it be that guys like Marcus are tossing bullshit at us for partisan or ideological reasons?

Gee. Ya think?

Although Marcus, in the above-cited interview, does not refer to Obamacare, Darrell Issa (or rather the hack who clobbers a keyboard on behalf of Issa) puts those very words into Marcus' mouth. In other examples of this meme that I've seen (here and here, for example), Obamacare is the only specific regulation that anyone dares to mention. But the health plan (which, as you may recall, I never did favor) has not been implemented yet -- and there is a good chance that it never will be: An appeals court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional.

More than that:
Obama’s plan exempts small businesses from the requirement to provide health care benefits or contribute to the costs of the national plan.
So this particular Republican talking point is pure fertilizer.

What these guys really want is for WalMart to continue its policy of letting taxpayers pick up the bill if an employee develops serious health issues.

Marcus did say something about taxes, which I guess are a form of regulation:
If we don't lower spending and if we don't deal with paying down the debt, we are going to have to raise taxes. Even brain-dead economists understand that when you raise taxes, you cost jobs.
Oh yeah? If that were true, then we should be swimming in jobs right now, because the top tax rate is at its lowest point in living memory.

Bush rammed through his tax cut for the wealthy in 2001, then he offered another tax cut in response to the 2008 disaster. Soon thereafter, Obama's non-stimulus cut taxes even further; he also did not fight (much) the continuance of the 2001 cut. So why didn't these measures create jobs?

At the risk of committing Thoughtcrime Most Foul, I must ask: Is it possible that tax cuts don't work?

By Marcus's reasoning, there should have been no job creation during the Reagan years -- or the Nixon years, or the Eisenhower years -- when taxes on the rich were much, much higher than they are at the moment.

By Marcus's reasoning, unemployment should be skyrocketing in Canada, where taxes are higher than they are here. Right now, Canadians can boast about their 7.2 percent unemployment rate -- significantly lower than ours.

By the way: There are Home Depots in Canada! Plenty of 'em!

Those stores remain open for business even though those despicable job-killing gummint regulations are even more severe north of the border. (And yes, employers there do like to bitch about that situation.) Those unlucky Canucks agonize under the burdens of a socialized health care regime, which businesses large and small must help to fund.

And yet -- how can this be? -- Home Depot Canada is doing fine!

In Canada, the minimum wage is higher -- between $8.75 and $11.00 an hour (figured in "international dollars"). The government also imposes stricter environmental standards.

So, Bernie Marcus -- may I call you Mr. Brain-Dead? -- I have some further questions.

If you hate government regulations, I'd like to know just when you plan to close down all Home Depots in Canada. Also, can you explain why Canada, with its larger number of regulations, is much closer to full employment than we are right now?
I will say you are absolutely correct, but such analysis is absolutely useless. Small business as defined by the govmmit is really huge. a small start up business does in fact encounter numerous and various obstructions. I remember the hippie businesses on South St Philly in the old days where there were pradctically no restraints on opening a crafts store, a restaurant, etc and the street flourished. Now to open a restaurant there you would need at least - at least - a quarter of a million. Then you could do it with a hot plate, and thrift store dishes and good cooking.

So it is hard to counter the concrete common sense experience with the abstract regulation needed in the speculation markets. There is where the criminal abides, protected by the law. This is what Cosmopolis is saying. But the very small business bears the brunt of liberal demands for regulation.

This is known as Deterrence.
...those must have been the 1840's Philly Hippies. That's when the first private sector standards came into place.

In fact don't mean to preach to the choir but there are now over 41,500 such regulations (PRIVATE sector standards)

...these bastards regulate the way we have to make elevators (that damn ASME A17.5/CSA B44.1), and how efficient they have to be (a la California's Appliance Efficiency Regulations-- which BTW has been GROWING JOBS IN CA since 1976 according to `Saving Energy Growing Jobs` by David Goldstein). They regulate our air bags and seat belts and speed limits! Can`t they just let us sell shoddy bandsaws and crapy door hinges? Oh you know what you won't ever see outside of a Canadian Home Depot? You won't find any illegals to hire for the day

When the libertarians strip the USA of all remaining standards, people will say Thank GOD we only import from China... at least they have standards
A good bit of that 7.4% unemployment in Canada is due to the slow down in U S auto manufacturing. Employees with 20 plus years seniority were being laid off. One of them was upset because he was losing his insurance. Turns out it was Dental and Vision his company paid for. His health insurance is untouched because those damned Socialists set up province wide single payer plans.

Oh and those waiting period bugaboo the Marcus and Koch types try to scare us with?
Turns out Canadian doctors keep banker's hours because they make enough to do so.

But this is something you won't hear from the corporate propaganda machine that passes itself off as the print and broadcast media.
In response to abbeysbookss: sounds like government regulations do a great job in protecting the well established megarestaurants (cough "Olive Garden", cough, cough) who rightly value the CEO's annual compensation over those restaurants which might have "local community ties." Look, you get to make the regulations work for you AND you get to complain that they are Satan's Tool. It's a perfect world.

It's America!!!
Nailed on right Angry Hippy!

"Businessmen dont like government regulation. Why oh why does the government (in the form of congress passing laws) insist that food shouldnt poison us, and toys should kill babies.

Didnt Adam Smith say something about this? That two businessmen couldnt meet without discussing some conspiracy against the public.

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