For one, the idea of making public policy of this sort erroneously presumes that businesses aren’t already “spreading around” the workload at times. Politicians, government bureaucrats, and many academicians don’t understand this, but actual business owners and managers have to make difficult decisions with their staffs every day.
If one worker is productive and another is not, an owner or manager has to make tough choices to maintain and bolster productivity. If budgets shrink, a business must make move so as to maintain productivity while at the same time trimming expenditures. This may involve “spreading around” the workload and employee compensation, re-assigning workers to different tasks, or in some unfortunate cases laying-off workers. But when layoffs must occur, a business will generally try to retain the most productive workers, while sacrificing the least productive.
An arbitrary government policy that would force businesses to “spread the jobs around” would likely undermine businesses quite severely. Rather than prioritizing productivity, as business owners and managers must, “spread the jobs around” establishes as its goal the reduction of the unemployment rate. So what if the most competent and productive workers get their hours and wages cut, as a means of providing hours and wages to less productive workers? When desperate incumbent politicians are running for re-election, spreading the jobs around becomes an attractive policy idea if it can help reduce the unemployment rate in the short run. Thus the needs and interests of the politicians are dramatically different from those of businesses.
Another problem with “spread the jobs around” is that it begins with the wrong question in mind. Asking “why is the unemployment rate so high?” is worthwhile. But a better question is “why are so many American businesses experiencing strong profits and all time high levels of productivity, and still not hiring new workers?” Those questions are related, but they are not the same. Politicians and liberal think-tank operators don’t want to ask the “why no hiring” question, because the answer traces back to some of their favorite policy creations.
The worst part of “spread the jobs around” is that it makes mediocrity acceptable. It says “America can no longer create wealth and opportunity for all, so we must force some of that opportunity out of the hands of certain individuals, and arbitrarily place it in the hands of certain others.”
“Spread the jobs around” implies that for some people to win, others must fail just a bit. This is consistent with the Obama worldview, but it is repugnant to a majority of Americans.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.