Opinion

From Kilmer, more sleight of hand

State Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor), closes his Dec. 25 Guest Opinion (“Needed services must be funded one job at a time”) with a quote meant to send the message “I get it” to his constituents (“It’s the economy, stupid!” – James Carville, political strategist).

It seems politicians use quotes like magicians pull rabbits out of hats — as a distraction while they set us up their next trick — “Quick, everyone. Look over here.”

Unfortunately, most of us have seen the TV show where the magician exposes how the tricks are done. So now we find ourselves 100 percent unable to watch the wrong hand anymore.

In this case, the “rabbit” we’re supposed to be watching is the idea that Kilmer does, indeed, “get it.”

Unfortunately for politicians out of touch with our reality, here’s what we’re actually observing — It’s the stupid running of our economy.”

When I read that his solution included sponsoring a bill to give a tax credit to small business as an incentive to hire, I actually started laughing.

I don’t mean to be offensive, but seriously, why not just say, “Let’s give everybody a ‘luxury yacht tax credit?’”

That’s a great idea, isn’t it? And maybe, if we give them enough of these, eventually they may be able to afford the yacht, right?

In a climate where you’re not too big to fail and credit is as tight as a noose on a dead man’s fractured neck bone, a tax incentive just doesn’t cut the mustard, baby.

Kilmer’s idea is just one more example of a government “solution” that doesn’t work. Perhaps it’s time for a reality check?

• Reality Check No. 1: Small businesses can’t spend money they haven’t actually made.

I know it sounds frustrating, but the song of the business cycle doesn’t start with the words, “hire and they shall buy!”

Sorry, but no.

The real cycle works like this: Revenues go down, causing unemployment, which leads to no money for hiring. This results in no money for buying products and services, which drives revenues even lower.

Get the picture?

• Reality Check No. 2: Small businesses don’t have the same absence of restraint that our representation exercises for their own purposes (didn’t they just raise the debt limit again?).

Nor do they have the laissez-faire, free reign of the Federal Reserve (when do these folks stop printing more money we don’t have?).

This means they cannot simply create jobs out of thin air in the hopes of some tax credit down that road.

Nor can they sustain any new hires on stagnant cash flow in this period of death-by-credit asphyxiation, overbearing regulation (just one example here) and growing taxation.

Now that we have the problem properly framed by how things actually work in the real world, perhaps Kilmer can explain how small businesses are going to absorb the additional costs (both direct and indirect, i.e. overhead) of hiring when they’re already struggling to make ends meet in this recessed economy?

Perhaps he can swap out generalizations and snazzy quotes for concrete specifics that demonstrate how a tax incentive for small business owners with no cash/credit and fewer and fewer customers with cash/credit is going to be an effective solution for us “little guys” he supposedly serves?

• Reality Check No. 3 (this one’s for us “little guys”): Sadly, Mr. Kilmer’s “solutions” are no different to so many others being proposed by countless out-of-touch politicians across our nation.

Do they even read the same articles we do? I recently read how, at a time when, reportedly, one in five are losing their homes, almost the exact same percentage of federal employees are now earning over $100,000 a year — a 26 percent increase in the recession’s first 18 months.

In light of such a slap in the face to hard-working Americans who foot that bill, how can we see “tax credits” as anything but a cruel joke as opposed to a real, viable solution for small businesses still being beaten down with the other hand?

Then there is this recent Los Angeles Times article that opens with this in the headline: “Small business bankruptcies rise 81 percent.”

This story is critical to Californians, but not limited to their great concern.

Have you ever heard the expression, “As California goes, so goes the nation?” I grew up in California. I now understand it’s the eighth-largest economy in the world and, added to the visual of this 40-second, time-lapse video on U.S. unemployment, it’s even more concerning that the very real needs of small business (i.e. the engine of our economy) are being so pathetically addressed.

I know, let’s get all those small businesses that are going out of business out there to now hire new people, thereby getting tax credits “guaranteed” to stave off their going out of business.

• Reality Check No. 4 (this one’s for our politicians): It’s time to stop with the smoke and mirrors.

Stop coming up with solutions in a vacuum (did I read correctly that the summit for small business didn’t include what any common-sense person would have deemed the guest of honor – representatives of small business?).

Dispense with the idea that politicians aren’t servants – that they’re somehow beyond the authority of the now (unfortunately) shrill outcry and wildly wagging fingers of we, the people.

If our politicians really want to help small business in the real world, perhaps they should spend their time finding ways to limit Big Brother’s bullying behavior — to understand that we’re a republic, not a democracy (where a simple majority rules), and to allow small business to naturally fill industry needs (instead of creating job training programs for top-down designs that target select industries via special interests — I didn’t even touch that one in Mr. Kilmer’s “solution suggestion box” here) so that we, the people, may retain our liberty and implement real solutions that actually work, to fill our coffers in our local communities.

Tristan Benz is a Port Orchard resident. Her blog can be found at tristansepinion.blogspot.com/.

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