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Jonathan Lewis Headshot

What Will It Take to Create Jobs? Don't Ask Meg Whitman

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Meg Whitman, like the attacking, garden variety politician she now is, may be excused her hubris. Any gubernatorial candidate needs an outsized ego to even want to head up a complicated American state government, and California is one big headache these days. We all make allowances for political ego.

Whitman is touting her business background with zeal. After successfully running an electronic flea market which she did not invent, she now thinks she can run the 8th largest economy in the world and supervise 240,000 unionized state workers (not including teachers or local government employees). After selling prepackaged Girl Scout cookies, she wants to own a chain of bakeries.

Recently touting her credentials to the Commonwealth Club in the Commonwealth (April/May, 2010), she brags, "I am most proud... that today well over one million individuals make most if not all of their living selling on eBay, around the globe, and eBay because of the platform for small businesses on the Internet."

Let's give her the pride and the pontification. After all, eBay is neither a polluter nor a profiteer.

What is less excusable is the robotic adoption of the received country club wisdom of the Right. Says Meg, "I also saw how government can get in the way of small business: taxation, bureaucracy and regulation."

Slamming her adopted state of California, she adds, "...I can tell you firsthand, this is one of the most difficult states in the country in which to do business. I saw it every day." Like Mitt Romney's presidential wet dream, she thinks she has to convince the far Right crazies that she is the real deal before she gets chance to convince the rest of us that she is not really, truly, honestly THAT out of touch.

On job creation, she knows or should know better If it is her real view, the unemployed in California will be standing in the unemployment lines a long, long time if she is elected. What should not be excused is willful ignorance on the most important domestic issue facing the government.

What is bothersome for a candidate touting her job creating skills is that, even before we know her policies, we now know she is either hypocritical or naively misleading us about the drivers of economic growth. Surely when she meets with her accountant, she realizes that the so-called hostile, intrusive and anti-business policies of California did not stop eBay from making her a rich woman, from employing 15,000 white collar workers or from growing in less than two decades to annual revenues of $8 billion (up from a $5 million when she took over the helm).

One wonders just how much more successful eBay could have been if CEO Meg Whitman had moved the company out of state. I hope during the candidate debates a reporter will ask her if she ever proposed that eBay move elsewhere, and where, and why she chose to keep the company in this ostensibly anti-business state.

What does create jobs? What does reduce poverty? One fears that Meg Whitman will only tell us what she thinks we want to hear, not what we need to know.