Looking Out for Number One Percent

“Never get a job,” our local bowling-alley proprietor once told us, “where you have to work with the public.” His wisdom was offered a moment after dealing with an unruly customer, but we’ve remembered it over the years because not only does it apply to our own experience — in particular, answering the local paper’s complaint line during college — but also observation: Retail jobs pay shit.

Nobody wants to work retail. You only work retail when, for one reason or another, you have no other choice. One reason for going to college is to escape retail — to leave the Floor for the comfy confines of the Cubicle.

Which brings us to Mitt Romney.

His claim to have created “a hundred thousand jobs” — third-hand, through vulture-capital investments — is being (properly) criticized for only counting the Plus Column, and ignoring the Minuses. But nobody seems to be talking about the kinds of jobs Romney claims to have created.

Shit jobs.

Before we go there, let’s pick another company for contrast — say, Apple Inc., the (occasionally) most valuable public corporation in the world. Apple employs 60,000 souls worldwide — but when you hear that number, you’ll also usually hear that 36,000 of them work in the retail division. Those aren’t bad jobs for retail, from what we hear, but those aren’t the real jobs — you want one of those other 24,000 jobs, the ones where you don’t have to wear a red shirt and smile for the morons all fucking day.

With that in mind, let’s look at what Capitalist-in-Chief Mitt is pitching as his track record:

Staples: 89,000 jobs

Sports Authority: 15,000 jobs

Domino’s: 7,900 jobs

Notice a pattern?

Again, ignore the statistical spin: Forget that Mitt’s not counting jobs lost elsewhere in the Bain portfolio, or that he’s counting jobs long after he left Bain management. Instead, just look at the jobs.

They’re all fucking retail. Including, God help us, pizza.

None of them are manufacturing, unless you care to make a snarky comment about the quality of your home-delivered stoner snack meal. None of them create anything, like the iPad we’re writing this on. They’re all shit jobs, certainly better than nothing, but not those Living Wage Middle-Class jobs politicians like to promise us.

And that’s the heart of Mitt’s economics pitch: Shit jobs selling other people’s shit.

But, hey, Mitt’s a quarter-billionaire, so it’s not like there isn’t any money in it. It’s just that in Mitt’s businesses, like Mitt’s America, all the money floats to the top.


Great post, NOJO. And in the spirit of “great minds think alike” I’ve got a similar post coming up at 9:15 (right after a juicy “quote for the day” at 9:00) that takes a closer look at some of Romney’s fuzzy math on this very subject.

Before that, I think it’s worth noting that both of Romney’s most prominent campaign pronouncements concerning on job creation are based on lies or disingenuous misrepresentations. His account of his own record on job creation is bogus, and as you note, relies on absurd cherry picking. But his accusation that Barack Obama has lost 2,000,000 jobs is just as absurd. The president came into office in the midst of an economy that was in teh process of cratering. We were seeing some 750,000 job losses a month in the months immediately preceeding and following Obama’s inauguration. Tallying those losses in the Obama column is a purely fraudalent exercise, hardly any less dishonest than Rush Limbaugh’s pinning the recession on Obama before the president had even taken office. If you focus only on the period following the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, then you see a stabilization in the jobs market followed by nearly uninterrupted positive growth in private sector employment (with 200,0000 new jobs last month alone).

How many jobs did he destroy? Was it more or less than the McJobs he created?

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: Krugman describes Mitones’ fucked up math but doesn’t say how many were destroyed.

@Serolf Divad: I sometimes get annoyed at Steve Benen for being too Obama rah-rah, but I do enjoy his monthly jobs charts.

I worked on-campus library jobs during college and law school, often at the front desk. Highlights were figuring out how to game the all-campuses phone system so I could talk for free to my friends at other Univ of Calif campuses, and chasing the Reading Room Masterbator out of the Ed/Psych library.

By the way, does anyone know of a Collar for retail? There’s blue/white/pink, but retail isn’t any of those, and I couldn’t think of a clever designation.

No Collar… a Vest… a polyester Vest.

@Dodgerblue: I worked at the UT Austin campus bookstore for three semesters – but at the satellite store that catered to law, nursing and art students. Once I figured out where to locate Oil&Gas and the stethoscopes and figured out what the hell “guache” was, I scored like Dr J with an open lane.

@Nabisco: I had a buddy, an English major, who used to troll the BioMed Library wearing a white coat and stethoscope, picking up the sorority girls who were in turn trolling for med students.

@nojo: Red collar, for all the consumer debt it produces?

@Dodgerblue: I had a work study job at UNM’s Biomedical Communications Department. We used to go shoot pre-autopsy photos across the courtyard at the Office of the Medical Investigator. Not a lot of ladies rolled through that work place.

@Nabisco: And said satellite store was conveniently located near the excellent hangover curing diner Red River Cafe.

@mellbell: Not bad. Not bad at all.

Meanwhile, programming notice: New Hampshire open thread at 8pm ET, featuring Our Most Profoundly Lame Opening Gag Yet.


Imhoff’s Law – The organisation of any bureaucracy is very much like a septic tank. The really big chunks always rise to the top.

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