A bone for small dogs

by the YES! Staff

September was another beastly month for regular American working folks. A quarter million of us lost gainful employment last month, even as the Dow Jones Industrial Index crept toward 10,000.

Triad unemployment is averaging about 10 percent, and that’s without factoring in the Dell debacle out in Forsyth, where almost a thousand jobs will be lost when the desktop assembly plant pulls up stakes in January.

They’re calling it a “jobless recovery,” those guys in suits who have seen to it that the recession does not affect their interests or those of their co-inhabitants of the top 10 percent.

They’re not as rich as you’d think: The cutoff line stands at about $150,000 a year, which is a nice living but not exactly Diddy money. The top 1 percent, which still holds more money than the bottom 90 percent, is another matter entirely.

But it’s a myth that the top 10 percent of US earners are all obscenely rich. Some of them work for large corporations where $150,000 is the minimum for the high-level executive legions. Some of them work for the government — even here in the Triad we have city and county employees pulling in more than $150,000 a year. But a lot of those in America’s top 10 percent own businesses, both large and small. More than half of the US workforce is employed by companies with fewer than 500 people on the payroll, companies that in turn make up 99 percent of all the independent enterprise in the country.

The US has always relied on small business owners to create jobs, pay taxes, provide necessary goods and services even as governments award subsidies, tax breaks, contracts and incentives to the big guys on the block.

So we applaud the whispers on Capitol Hill about tax incentives for job creation that would affect all businesses, big and small.

While big banks and investment firms have benefited greatly from government policy and feasted well on the economic stimulus packages, the national unemployment rate — now at 9.8 percent and rising — signals that the desired “trickle-down” effect has yet to be made manifest.

Jobs, we say, are what can raise the bottom of this U-shaped recovery, and it is fair to reward those who create each and every one of them.

One DC think tank endorses a two-year tax credit to any company that creates new jobs or significantly increases work hours, a credit equal to twice the payroll taxes on those jobs or hours. That’s a few grand per new hire, which to a lot of small business owners will look pretty good come tax time.

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