The left and jobs

Don't worry -- tax breaks are on the way!

Wow, there's a new coalition in town! It's called "The Bay Guardian Left." And it's so influential -- and so misguided -- that it's destroyed progressive hope of winning the mayor's office. This from Randy Shaw at BeyondChron, who is sounding more and more like someone who thinks the private sector is going to pull us out of this recession:

In the real world of San Francisco in 2011, voters care most about jobs. Yet many on what I call the “Bay Guardian left” oppose private sector projects that create jobs. ...

Unlike the Left nationally, the Bay Guardian progressives have no viable local job creation strategy. And promoting jobs through public sector expansion and the building of affordable housing does not resonate when voters know there is no money to fulfill these plans, while jobs are needed now.

This has been a mantra of the Ed Lee supporters for months. Only Lee has a "job creation" strategy. The progressives have none. What a bunch of horsepucky.

For starters, the largest employers in San Francisco are not in the private sector. This city's employment base, and its economy, are extraordinarily dependent on government. The City of San Francisco, the State of California, the University of California and the federal goverment all provide more jobs in San Francisco -- most of them good, union jobs with benefits -- than any single private company. Add in all the nonprofits that get city and federal funding (Randy Shaw runs one of them, so he should know) and you get thousands more jobs.

The greatest threat to the job market here is cutbacks in the public sector (which get worse, of course, when you cut taxes). And to say that "voters know there is no money" for public-sector jobs is to ignore everything that OccupySF has been talking about all these weeks -- something that most voters know very well. This is a very rich city, full of very rich residents and very rich corporations. Even a modest effort to increase local revenues (by, say, 15 percent) through progressive taxes would create more jobs than all of the Twitter tax break policies that Lee and his allies have been promoting. And those jobs can be created quickly and reliably, without waiting to see whether the private sector will decide to use its tax break money for more hiring or for more profits.

Besides, tax breaks are a dumb way to try to create jobs. For the most part, that strategy doesn't work, any more than tax breaks for the rich stimulate the economy. There's no shortage of hard evidence -- we've been trying that for years now. Look where it's gotten us.

In the private sector, the new jobs in San Francisco come overwhelmingly from small locally owned businesses. And for most of those businesses (trust me, I help run one) the single greatest obstacle to job creation isn't taxes. It's lack of access to capital. And that's something that the left, particularly John Avalos, is talking about constantly.

Then there's the question of what type of jobs are being created, and who gets them. Frankly, Twitter and other tech firms that Lee is touting will indeed hire some people -- but most of them will be college graduates with a very specific skill set. Yes, we can train more people in tech skills (but wait -- that takes (gasp) the Public Sector! Schools and colleges, which also create jobs). But the population with the highest unemployment rates isn't young white software engineers. And the policies that Ed Lee (and Gavin Newsom before him) have promoted are driving blue-collar jobs out of town.

Why? Because those employers need space. Just Desserts didn't move to Oakland because of taxes; the company moved because it couldn't find adequate space at an affordable price for a 65,000-square-foot bakery. Market-rate housing in the Eastern Neighborhoods will absolutely, quantifiably destroy jobs; even the City Planning Department admits this.

No, Randy, the Bay Guardian Left talks constantly about jobs. But some of us don't trust that "incentives" and tax breaks for the private sector are the answer.




He's not sounding more and more like it he is and has been sounding like that since January.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

of the problem Randy describes. SF politics gives huge incentives for businesses to grow in neighboring Counties which, after all, are only ten miles away.

The most obvious example is Silicon Valley, which is arguably the biggest wealth creator on the planet, and yet which is almost exclusively in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Ironically, many of their six-figure workers choose to live in SF, but the City doesn't see any payroll tax for them, nor can the City impose an income tax on them. Nor property tax on their gleaming high-tech campuses.

One third of all jobs created in recent years in all of the US have been created in low-tax, low-regulation Texas. While businesses like Twitter won't stay here unless we bribe them.

Even a progressive like Randy gets it. Will you be the last person in the city to see it?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

Low tax, low regulation Texas, has only created low wage, no benefit McJobs. Hardly the way to build a vibrant middle class. But It is the way to build cheap service providers for the 1%.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2011 @ 10:17 am

makes sense that most new jobs are a good fit for them. But increasingly such jobs will be done overseas. So we do need the "hgh-value, six-figure" jobs. The problem is that they're more likely to be in adjoining Counties that are much more pro-business than SF.

Have you ever noticed that as soon as you cross the County line, there are huge retail malls? Emeryville, Serramonte and Corte Madera. Could just be a coincidence, I suppose.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2011 @ 10:30 am

Everybody makes a living wage, gets healthcare and retirement, etc. We can do that. We have enough wealth. The fact that the American people are getting poorer is not an inevitability of globalization. America itself is not getting poorer. Over the last 40 years, productivity is way up, Americans are working far more hours, and the country is richer than it ever has been. But all the wealth is accumulating at the top, while ordinary people's wages are flat when adjusted for inflation, and actually trending down over the last few years. We can change that paradigm. All it takes is the political will.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 03, 2011 @ 11:52 am

get paid too much, relative to most other nations. Therefore our exports are not competitive, leading to a trade deficit, outsourcing and illegal immigration.

That can only be remedied by a fall in the US dollar or a fall in US incomes. In practice, again, both happen, and have to happen. The laws of economics make that inevitable.

It's not about "sharing" US wealth more evenly - that's a peculiarily socialist perspective. It's about growing the economy which we can't do if we're all being paid too ,much.

Compared with those forces, the fact that a few CEO's get paid too much is a footnote. A focus on that is mere envy and clas warfare. it's not making us more competitive. We need to get our costs down to a level where people want to buy our goods again.

And the fact is that the successful US exports are high-end, high-tech products, which are made by folks making six figures. It's actually the better paid people that are saving our economy, which is why we pay them more in the first place!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

I have no doubt that you sincerely believe this but growth in government and the growth in government control of the economy is not the answer to our ills. Never quite sure how anyone could look at how the City runs the bus system for example, and think that govt needs to play a bigger role- boggles the mind.

And yes, businesses migrate to low cost environments for the same reason you shop around when you buy anything.

And please ignore Randy Shaw. His motives in this race are painfully obvious and they are not altruistic.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

Randy Shaw
Editor of BabyKron.
Poverty Pimp.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

Was wondering if you were going to let that slip by.

A municipal bank saved North Dakota and I have no doubt it would have saved San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

Wow, I didn't know anyone belived that crap about Texas any more.

Posted by tim on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

Does it seem likely to you that a low-tax, low-regulation approach to free-market capitalism would repel business? Can you explain the logic behind that belief?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

The goal is to get a government job, pay dues to unions that lobby for politicians that will promise more government jobs...

"the single greatest obstacle to job creation isn't taxes. It's lack of access to capital. "

No one is going to loan money to a failing newspaper.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

is a lot like the direction California is taking - high taxes, high deficits, a distrust of business, overblown government.

Luckily we have a booming high tech business, at least for now. But when you hear people craving a public sector job for those fabulously unaffordable health and pension benefits, you know the tail is wagging the dog, and that it can't last.

A prescient observation, my friend.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

I don't see the private sector doing much about jobs all over the country. They have been supported by the government with lesser taxes, etc. and they still don't create jobs. They are just interested in more money in their pockets. I wouldn't invest in big business because you can't trust them to do what the say and they may end up by providing less jobs while reaping all the benefits of an agreement with the city.

The public sector has been providing good, varied jobs in this city for a long time. But, with the cuts to these institutions, like The University of California (a wonderful university which is being destroyed), we are loosing jobs in this important area (which I call the backbone of the city).

Also small business has provided many more jobs than big business, so I think this city should support small business and the public sector in increasing the income to the city coffers.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

The sad fact is that there is very little that can be done on a municipal level to create jobs. The employment level for the state depends mostly on the state of the national economy. That said, the city can make some important differences at the margins. Business tax breaks do not by and large lead to net new job creation in the regional economy, though they may have some influence on whether a business locates in SF or in a neighboring city. Cities playing off against each other on business attraction through give-aways is a game we all lose.

The place where parts of the SF left have missed the boat on job creation is on land use and economic development decisions. When the Labor Council, ACORN and SFOP negotiated a community benefits agreement for the Bayview Hunters Point Shipyard that will lead to thousands of permanent jobs, many others on the left opposed the development in principal, or made demands that could not possibly be realized. If we're serious about job creation and equity we need to support accountable development, rather than opposing all growth.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

Neither the left nor the right nor Jeff Adachi nor The Bay Guardian have espoused collecting much of the market value of nature (the land under San Francisco). Aside from socializing the right of way for PG&E (including the value of power from Hetch-Hetchy, etc.), the lefties above have neither the moral resolve nor the umph to support socializing the community-generated value of nature.

If they had and did, the city would be flush with social revenue, taxes on business could be eliminated, there would cease to be land hoarding, and we, as a community would, in a most meaningful sense, be occupying SF.

LeonPhat (dot) com

Posted by Guest on Nov. 02, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

your statement is incorrect. What we need is to create jobs and wealth, not endlessly mentally masturbate about how we can re-arrange the deckchairs on the Titanic.

No place on the planet ever taxed it's way into prosperity.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 02, 2011 @ 2:56 pm