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October 3, 2011 / Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce

A Word From The President: It’s All About Confidence

Chamber Views: For business and families, it’s all about confidence

By William F. Millerick
President, New Britain Chamber of Commerce

One cannot pick up a newspaper or magazine without reading about some political candidate at the federal, state or local level talking about the importance of “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

This is the “jobs’ campaign, no matter where you look.

The problem is that after they say “jobs,” there isn’t much to support it.

To politically paraphrase the old saying about the weather, everyone talks about jobs but no one does anything about it.  There are all kinds of little piecemeal plans being floated, right up to the President who wants a reduction in the payroll tax. Here’s the problem: Ask the first 10 people you meet what “payroll tax” means and you’ll get 10 different answers.

Where is the big picture, the vision, the inspiration that workers and businesses need to hear? And there is a very good reason they need to hear it. They need confidence.

People need confidence that they’ll have their job in three months, and confidence that they’ll be able to keep their businesses open next year.

It’s not about jobs, it’s about confidence.  The jobs are out there.

Companies are ready to hire, ready to expand. But they have no confidence.

Couples are ready to buy a new house or car but they fear that one of them will be laid off.

The private sector will take care of the jobs if government takes care of confidence. Government cannot effectively create jobs long term; the private sector does and can.  What government can do, and has failed miserably at, is create confidence.

In fact, it’s just the opposite, Families and business owners watch grownups argue about shutting down government or nitpicking over nonsense to position for a better reelection angle.

Real estate has rarely been a better bargain than it is right now, almost anywhere in the nation. And mortgage rates are at historic lows.

If people felt confident that government hadn’t devolved into an embarrassing, always partisan, vote-pandering incapable exercise, they’d buy those houses.

And there are plenty of companies, in this city and this area, that have weathered tough times, made themselves lean and mean, and seen a lot of the work come back. They really do want to begin adding back people. But they aren’t willing to risk a second economic turndown.

The reason is simple. And it’s not my opinion. It’s what they tell me over and over. They lack confidence. They say it with a sadness and longing because they are frustrated and carry that profound sadness that opportunities are being missed.

But they all say the same thing. How can they watch the news or read the papers and see the utter lack of visionary leadership, especially at the federal and state level, and want to take a risk.

I have been in office after office, conversation after conversation with business owners or families, who cannot believe that government won’t get out of the way or stop tinkering for no good reason besides saying that it did something.

They are insulted that career politicians are giving them advice and telling them how best to operate their businesses, who to hire, how to hire them, what to pay, how much to “tax the rich,” and how many sick days they get.

Before anyone starts taking a whack that these are sentiments belonging to any particular political leaning, know this, they are just the straight-up reports.

No D, no R, no Libertarian or Tea Party. These aren’t political hobbyists. These are working men and women, raising families, running businesses.  Many of them are doing it successfully, despite the barrage of interference, free advice and unintended consequences of all these good ideas.

They want only one thing from government — confidence.  Give people confidence and they’ll take care of the rest all by themselves.

William F. Millerick is president of the New Britain Chamber of Commerce. He may be reached at bill@newbritainchamber.com

 

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