Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel Jr. and a
Democratic state rep out of Flint, Jim Ananich, hosted a press
conference last month at the site of a Lansing home nearly lost to
Apparently, judges in Michigan can’t
protect a homeowner if a lender messes up some paperwork or isn’t
following law. A new state law should be passed to let people sue their
bank to keep their homes, they argued.
To help sell their position a sign hung from the podium. It read: "Stop Foreclosures. Create Jobs, Prevent Scams."
"Stop Foreclosures" by "preventing scams." Under this bill, judges could sniff out shady or sloppy deals. Got it.
But "create jobs?" How does this bill
create jobs? For the attorneys representing homeowners in court? For the
judges listening to these cases? Maybe more clerical or legal staff
positions within the courts?
I got my answer later from a staffer who aptly pointed out that, "These days, everything is about jobs."
He’s right. Any public policy proposal,
at any level, can be spun into a jobs argument because … well … we need
jobs. It’s just the opposing argument against that same proposal can be
The bankers could argue the
Hertel/Ananich bill would cost jobs. Lenders in Michigan would get sick
of dealing with every Tom, Dick and Harry taking their foreclosure to
court. They’d move out of state, taking jobs with them.
A "job." It’s something about every adult
needs to scratch out a living. It’s been retooled from rhetorical
overuse into a cheap political hammer. It’s been used so many times by
so many well-meaning politicians, it’s become a plastic shell that looks
good when presented right, but has no functional use.
"Jobs" and its corresponding phrases has
become one gigantic stick of cotton candy — a bright ball of fluff that
looks pretty and tastes sweet, but is nothing more than sugar-coated
They think Michigan voters will bite at
the word every time, and so far they’re right. We’re so starved for
employment, we so badly want 3.2 percent unemployment again, we’ll lunge
at the promise of jobs like a Titanic survivor to a lifeboat.
Until 2006 we thought Republicans had the
answer. They didn’t so we turned to the Democrats. They couldn’t get
the "job done" so we turned back to the Republicans in 2010. But what
have they done? The No. 1 political issue is still jobs.
The first e-mail in my inbox this morning
is from Republican presidential wannabe Mitt Romney who wrote in USA
Today over the weekend that the private sector shed 1.8 million jobs
since President Barack Obama took office.
"(G)overnment itself cannot create jobs.
At best, government can provide a framework in which economic growth can
occur," Romney writes.
The lead story in the newspaper this morning was how Obama was in Detroit this weekend. He was promising jobs.
Gov. Rick Snyder said his agenda has been
about jobs. Yet, last week I watched the "Not Really Rick Snyder Show,"
a crafty Youtube video put together by the Michigan Senate Democrats,
in which a bumbling impersonator of the Republican governor is shocked
to learn that none of the bills he’s signed into law has created a
If both Romney and the Democrats are right, that the other side can’t create jobs, shouldn’t we give up now?
No. We won’t. We’re like Fox Mulder’s UFO
poster. We want to believe. We figure somebody must know how to create
jobs. Enough office seekers have jobs as their number one priority …
unless they have three top priorities, in which case it’s jobs, jobs and
It’s gotten more than redundant. If this
were one big drinking game and we took a shot every time we heard a
politician say "jobs," the only jobs needed would be those of the people
throwing our 0.4 blood alcohol level-soaked bodies into a pit.
If these last 10 years of economic stink
taught us anything, it’s that politicians don’t create long-term
employment. Government can’t bring back the economic prosperity of late
’90s, just like nothing done by government created it. Tax cuts,
spending cuts, gobs of borrowed federal stimulus money, less regulation,
special carve-outs for special industries, concessions from labor
unions, more infrastructure projects.
Republicans and Democrats wanted the same
things when the economy was good. The difference is that everything
from a new freeway to a mowed park is flavored with "jobs."
And the office-seeker making the most
compelling argument using the word "job" will have one. The one who
doesn’t will be looking for a job.
Meanwhile, we’re stuck hoping that we can find our own job or keep the one we’re fortunate to have.