I admired Mark Haines, the CNBC anchor who died suddenly yesterday, as he had a gift for asking questions that regular humans (as opposed to Wall Street quant-heads) would ask. No doubt his formative years in New Jersey trained him in the art of verbal jousting (like fellow New Jerseyan big guy Chris Christie). Over the past few years, it was especially sweet to watch him deflate sunshine-spouting CEOs with this little question: “So, are you hiring?”
Now that Haines is gone, it’s up to the rest of us to keep asking this question. Lawmakers, in particular, should heed Haines’ example. To our solons, next time — and every time — a business leader meets with you, look them in the eye and ask: “So, are you hiring?”
Republicans and Democrats can debate endlessly about solutions to revive the economy, but the bottom line is that more jobs are what we need now. Whether we have those jobs depends in a big way upon the hiring decisions of CEOs and the like. Asking, “So, are you hiring?” (and knowing this question will be asked) can signal to business leaders that they need to focus on job creation in America.
I realize the question, by itself, is not the solution to our economic problems, but it’s a start. It can lead to a frank conversation about factors that are restraining job creation, and hopefully solutions that will get Americans back to work.
To Mark Haines, fancy tomato farming enthusiast and proud wearer of an American flag tie, a fond farewell.
To those of you with businesses, I ask, “So, are you hiring?”
Joanne Butler is a senior economics fellow at the Caesar Rodney Institute of Delaware. You can email her at email@example.com.