Friday, December 10, 2010

If I hear that $!%&^#@ hippopotamus song one more time....

These days, it seems like the only place to go for some optimism and holiday cheer is one of those radio stations that play holiday music 24/7.

But even there, this holiday season, the timeless melodies telling us it's "the most wonderful time of the year" ring hollow because the underlying chorus is anything but joyful.

During a time that is otherwise supposed to provide a break from their daily lives, the headlines are making it virtually impossible for anyone to relax.

Just today, we got news that "Framingham-based TJX Co. says it plans to eliminate 4,400 jobs and shutter it’s A.J. Wright discount stores." ( story). State Street, Raytheon, Genzyme and Biogen all made similar announcements in recent weeks. (Read more.)

These aren't anonymous people. Just log into Facebook and you're likely to find a friend announcing that they've lost their job. One friend recently posted that they were about to head out to the "office holiday / job security party" at his company.

Please pass the egg nog.

During this past election year, politician after politician told Massachusetts voters that creating jobs was their number one concern and priority. So, what are they up to these days? Turns out, not much.

We learned this week that a special commission created in 2008 to create jobs never even met. In fact, when asked by the press about the commission's status earlier this week, Governor Patrick's response was, "The who? The commission that I created?" (Hear his comments at this link.)

But rest assured, just because state officials aren't finding jobs for most Massachusetts residents, they've been having no trouble finding jobs for their cronies in the Probation Department. According to the Report of the Independent Counsel released on November 9, the hiring and promotion process within the Probation Department is so bad that it "represents a pervasive fraud against the Commonwealth." (For the full report, click here.)

It's beginning to look a lot like Massachusetts politicians are too busy stuffing their own stockings to worry about the fact that countless people this year are struggling to fill the empty space beneath the tree in their living room. And, no matter how loud you crank those holiday tunes, that reality isn't going away any time soon.


  1. So should Deval, Terry and Bobby be doing to create jobs that they're not doing? Seems like they're not creating enough probation jobs to keep up with AJWright's demand.

  2. Anonymous,

    Thanks for your comment.

    We openly admit we don't have all the answers to how to turn our economy around. There needs to be a broad-based discussion about how to do that, and one of the biggest problems is that such a discussion is not happening on Beacon Hill. We'd like to see Beacon Hill politicians from both parties at least try to make an effort here.

    That said, we are confident the key to job creation (from the public policy point of view) is in restoring business confidence, thereby making businesses more willing to invest and grow.

    This requires a more stable, predictable and equitable business tax structure. It also requires a regulatory structure that makes it easier and quicker to permit new business. And, it means removing impediments that make it difficult or costly to do business here.

    Massachusetts needs to be more competitive than other states, and we need to be more business-friendly in our own right. Until that happens, expect more of the same.

    What do others think?

  3. We need to incentivize business to hire and retain people. The extension of unemployment is hurting people from going after jobs that are out there. There also needs to be business incentives for bringing jobs back from offshore. While I agree with the extension of the Bush Tax cuts, I do think we are going off course with the extension on higher earners. Moving the cap up to $1M -2M would have caught most of the small business issues but would allow more contributions from the super rich. The cut in the business tax will hurt the overall soc. sec. system. The estate tax increase to $5M is probably a mistake. Here's how I see it overall...
    1. Keep all tax cuts but stop them @$2M instead of the proposed unlimited setup.
    2. Set the estate tax limit to $3M instead of $5M.
    3. Fix the Alt. Min. Tax. by inflation indexing.
    4. Provide an incentive of a $5000 added business tax credit for every job added in 2011 and a $10,000 tax credit for every job brought back from overseas, measured from a Dec. 2010 baseline.
    5. Reinstate the energy tax credit for homeowners back to the $1500 limit for expired in 2010. Would encourage many more people to invest in energy improvements.
    6. Stop the subsidies for ethanol and other products that restrict production. We need more agricultural production, not less, since we could increase exports.
    7. Take a 50% reduction in foreign aid...they mostly hate us already, so why foster their efforts with money.
    8. Establish a WPA type program for the unemployed who are out of a job for over 26 weeks. Require 24 hours of documented public service work each week to get full unemployment compensation.
    9. In MA, provide an additional incentive for new jobs created in-state.....for any added job, allow businesses to deduct 200% of the salaries paid IN STATE for 2011 and 2012 state taxes.

    Just some thoughts......


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