My wife and I just returned from a leisurely drive from Atlanta to Ellijay, Georgia, and back to see the fall leaf color in the mountains and to get some fresh apples and cider. We enjoyed the drive – the weather is very nice in October, and the leaves were starting to turn – but on our way back home, we also saw two things of political interest: first, we passed two Dollar General stores, the retail variety store chain once headed by David Perdue, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Georgia. Then, as we entered the small town of Dawsonville, we came upon a huge rally in progress for Perdue, at Dawsonville Gun and Pawn. Wow! The juxtaposition of these two images – the ultra-discount stores and the gun store/pawn shop – crystallized a moment of clarity in my view of Perdue, the candidate – and his constituents.
His stint at the Dollar General variety store chain is Perdue’s only claim-to-fame as a job creator in the United States (he is better known for his job creation offshore), but the company pays at the very low end of retail wages. A quick check shows the jobs pay from $7 or so per hour to start, to something over $12 per hour for a store manager. Still, I suspect that some Dollar General employees are Perdue supporters, simply because of the association that they once worked for a guy who is now a senator. But given the large audience at the gun store/pawn shop, I surmise that those folks are Perdue’s core constituents, and further, I will venture a guess that some of the Dollar General employees are customers of Dawsonville Gun and Pawn – on the pawn side.
David Perdue has created one more category of jobs: as low-paid retail employees patronize the pawn shop, more pawn shop workers will be needed. The bottom line is, you cannot have a healthy economy when a large proportion of the population has jobs, yet cannot afford the “stuff” of everyday life. Note to Mr. Perdue: if you are elected, you represent all of the people. You can no longer offshore the problems – you have to deal with them here. And with a week to go before the election, I haven’t heard anything from you except rhetoric that would indicate that you know how that might be accomplished.