Jia Lynn Yang’s Washington Post article “Good for Obama’s jobs council, good for America?” has a great headline and theme, but it actually winds up taking a slightly odd direction. Her main point is that “decades of globalization have loosened the connection between the health of large U.S. firms and the economy” since you can both produce things abroad and sell them to foreigners.
That’s all true enough, but the problem is much more general. Job growth doesn’t generally come from the firms that are already big. It comes from the firms you haven’t heard of getting big. By the time a company gets big enough that its CEO can score meetings with the president of the United States, its fastest-growing days are likely to be in the past. Now my sense is that this whole council is a PR stunt that has no real relationship to policy, but even as PR, I think it sends a bad message about the relationship between business, government, and growth. If you’re already a successful company, what you primarily want out of public policy is protection from disruptive change, but that’s no way to create sustainable growth.