Thursday, September 25, 2014


Joe Parker once asked his father-in-law why he farmed.  Joe knew that his F-I-L was a handy, hardworking guy.  Farming is a hit-or-miss proposition from an economic standpoint.  Joe figured his F-I-L could have made a whole bunch more money in "industry".

"Well," said his F-I-L, "I just could not see myself working for some other summabich.  One of us would have ended up on the floor and the other in jail."


Jobs are very much on my mind.

Belladonna just lost hers.  She worked for a small, regional restaurant chain.  Business has been slow.  The lease came up for renewal.  The landlord wanted more rent than the restaurant could afford to pay.  The branch was closed.

The myth of Quality Time

Many new parents are sure they can do everything they used to do and still provide a great childhood for their new bundle of joy.  They figure that they can schedule slivers of time and it will work out because those little slivers will be "Quality Time."

Here is the kicker, "Quality Time" is a small fraction of Total Time.  It is not possible to schedule "Quality Time".  One spends time with one's loved ones and "Quality Time" happens when it happens.

The myth of Targeted Economic Development

Every governmental unit only wants "good industry" or "industries of the future".  News flash:  Nobody can look into the future.  Even the Japanese, the economic juggernaut that many pundits regard as the most sure-footed, economically integrated Gov/Ind on earth has a crappy track record of picking winners.

It is all very Darwinian, something plant breeders are very comfortable with.  A plant breeder understands it could easily take 100,000 seeds to produce a plant that embodies all of the desired traits sought in the next generation.  And it may take many generations to "stack" all of the traits and genetic redundancies required to create a commercially viable apple or pear, cherry or plum variety.  Success does not come from planting five apple seeds and fiercely protecting them.  Success comes from planting a bushel of apple seeds and letting the vicissitudes of Mother Nature select the winners.


In fact, many politicians and governmental agencies seem to have the entire "jobs" thing backwards.

Rather than try to create "jobs", politicians would be better served to encourage the lavish creation of businesses.

This guy works at a local party store.  He has a small sideline where he will replace broken touch screens on phones.  He works on the phones during the lulls in his paid work.  He gets lots of practice and is very proficient at replacing the screens.  Ask for Randy.

Most new businesses are very pedestrian:  day-cares, landscaping, roofing, tax preparation and smartphone screen replacement.  They may be humble but they give citizens purpose, they create wealth, they generate tax revenue. 

In some cases being "the boss" is the only job that will work out.  Not all of us are cut from the cloth that makes "good employees".  In other cases starting your own business might be the only viable employment opportunity due to location, skill-set or the generally slow economy.

And out of the 100,000 day-cares and landscapers, roofer and IPhone repair businesses some of them will morph into charter schools and property management firms, integrated construction firms and IT firms. 


Sadly there is a tension between the public sector and the private sector.  It is a common perception in the private sector that many public servants feed their egos via the capricious application of laws.  That is, they feel powerful by saying "NO!" and watching the freight train screech to a halt.

Never attribute to malice what could just as easily be caused by apathy or ignorance.  Most likely it is a lack of leadership; leadership that is capable of enunciating a vision of public servants as advocates.  Like the story of the commercial truck garage in Perry, a business-friendly bureaucracy that guides the prospective business owner through the thicket of regulation, permitting and rookie mistakes.

A mature perspective

A mature perspective of business starts with the understanding that a very large percentage will fail.  A mature perspective will not rail against that.  Rather, it accepts that a business owner must fight their way through a learning-curve to become successful.  They may have to start several businesses before they are successful.  The question is not "How do I avoid failure?" but "How do I make failure inexpensive?"  It is easier to shoot down a strafing enemy fighter with a machine gun (1:6 tracers) than with a single cannon.

A partnership between the public sector and the private sector is mandatory if failure is to become inexpensive.  The clerks in the public sector see far more "business models" in a year than most business owners will see in their lifetime.  They see what works and what does not.  Those public sector clerks are a repository of wisdom that will accelerate the private sector learning curve and reduce the cost of climbing it.

Perhaps the key to the "jobs" problem is to identify and recognize the public sector employees who streamline business creation process.

Success comes from planting 100.000 apple seeds.  Let us stand and applaud the public sector players who are planting those seeds.


  1. Good points, but I also 'see' another issue with the upcoming generation. That is the unwillingness to actually DO work. They want to walk into a $75K a year job, and expect $100K in three years. They don't have either the fortitude OR the knowledge to actually build a business from the ground up... remember, shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations. And it's coming true again....

  2. Those are valid points and they cause me some anguish.

    It used to be that working was how one got ahead. Today, working puts you behind. You need to be able to walk into a $69K/year to be ahead of welfare.

    That which cannot be sustained will not endure. It is simple a matter of the details of how we get from now until then.

    Thanks for reading and thanks for taking the extra time to comment.