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Mary Pitt: America's New "Entrepeneurs"

America's New "Entrepeneurs"

by Mary Pitt

President George W. Bush, in an effort to counteract the news of ever-increasing unemployment as the result of out-sourcing and recession, constantly harps on the fact that Americans are turning to ''entrepeneurship'' in droves, going into business for themselves and ''growing the economy''. This claim could use a little closer look. I know a few of these "entrepeneurs" and their stories are not nearly so rosy as he depicts them.

One man of my acquaintance lost his job three years ago, and began to work in the local gas fields as a maintenance man for the pumps and lines through which the natural gas is distributed to surrounding communities. The gas is directed from local fields through a metered system and purchased by local comsumers who are billed for it by the multi-national petroleum companies who, in trun, pay the owners of the gas fields. Now, you might call the men who do the work of pumping and delivering this product "entrepeneurs" since they are not considered "employees".

These men are considered "contract workers" which relieves the employer of responsibilty for collecting Federal withholding taxes, Social Security payroll deductions, or of maintaining workers' comprehensive or unemployment insurance. In any other business, this would not be allowed but, for some reason, the oil companies are exempt from the requirements with which all other employers must comply.

The wages these men are paid are sub-standard for the amount of hard labor and professional knowledge that is required for the work involved and, in many cases, they are required to furnish their own vehicles. While they are struggling to survive on their meager earnings, they are also building up debt to the Internal Revenue Service for the taxes that are foisted onto them by the circumstances of their employment. This is often dangerous work and, in the event of injury, not only must they pay their own medical bills but they have no income during their absence from work.

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Since these people are not counted as being "employed", they are not counted as "unemployed" when they cannot find work. I guess you could call them unsuccessful "entrepeneurs".

Another young friend exhausted his unemployment benefits and, having a family to support and child support payments to make, he does whatever he can find to earn money. He knocks on doors, makes contacts and, when called will mow lawns, repair roofs, erect outbuildings, or work on your car. In the meantime, his wife works full-time to keep the rent paid and food on the table. I suppose the President would call him an "entrepeneur", too.

When you see the campaign commercials or hear the President in a campaign speech talking about how "these entrepeneurs are starting small businesses, going into business for themselves, employing people, and growing the economy", you will know just what he is talking about. The bum on your street, carrying a sign that says. "WILL WORK FOR FOOD" is one of Bush's new "entrepeneurs" as well as the guy who is living in his car because his unemployment insurance ran out and he has no place to live.

This canard which the president shouts about with the utmost confidence is merely more Republican "spin" to excuse the failure to protect the American worker either by stopping the out-flow of industry from our shores or by urging the Congress to pass legislation extending the duration of unemployment benfits.

Mr. President, we need more jobs and fewer "entrepeneurs!


Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan who is self-employed and active in the political arena. Her concerns are her four-generation family and the continuance of the United States as a democracy with a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people". Comments and criticism may be addressed to mpitt@cox.net .

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