Things We Can Do For Free To Put People Back To Work

Wednesday, August 8, 2011

Hi. While spending money to put everyone back to work may be necessary – although our President and Congress haven’t a clue how to do that – there are some things that we can do immediately that won’t cost anyone a dime.

One is a suggestion I heard from someone being interviewed the other day on MSNBC. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who was talking, if the idea was even his, but it’s simple. Instead of giving people unemployment compensation, give them chits which can be redeemed either for money or by prospective employers. Suppose, for example, that an employer is reluctant to hire a person who, for this particular job, would be paid $40,000 per year. Okay, let the unemployed person give that employer his chits, the total value of which might be, let’s say, $10,000 over the next year. (I’m making this stuff up, but hopefully you’ll get the point.)

If the employer can redeem those chits, on an ongoing basis and not as some future tax credit that’s not going to affect his behavior, they’ll have the effect of reducing the cost of hiring that person to only $30,000 – and that might make a difference. Perfect? No, but it’s an example of a good idea that recognizes that, in the face of serious, widespread, it may help to pay employers, in real time which is the key, to put people back to work, and not just pay people while they’re unemployed. Leave it to the unemployed person to use his chits as he or she sees fit, but let the prospective employer be able to cash them in if he hires that person. Don’t just discontinue unemployment support as soon as the unemployed person finds a job.

Another idea would be to use funds we would spend for unemployment benefits to help relocate families to places, to other cities and states, where employment is available. Many unemployed find themselves stuck in the communities where they lost their jobs, waiting for local employers to recover which could take forever, if ever. Part of the problem with this continuing recession is that the economy is in the process of restructuring itself geographically. Simply put, jobs are moving and, in the process, there are places in the country where companies are looking for people who are unemployed elsewhere, but who don’t know about those openings and can’t afford the costs of relocating their families even if they did, know about them that is.

One more… Discontinue the policy of giving other countries and special causes foreign aid in the form of money in favor of goods and services we manufacture domestically, with special focus on the products of companies who have laid off people and are operating below capacity. With respect to “special causes,” for example, we need to do what we can to help the hundreds of thousands who are starving and otherwise suffering in Somalia. Fine. Don’t send money or goods in token amounts. How lazy and insensitive is that? If we’re going to help them, let’s do it – and do it in a way the generates employment. Mobilize American industry to provide food, water, shelter, medicines – whatever it takes to help these people as best we can, and do it in a way which increases the demand for American labor. What better way to help put our people back to work? And doing the same for our countrymen here at home who need help wouldn’t hurt.

Oh, and stop… Will President Obama and Congress puh-lease stop talking about using public works projects and new industry development (such as for the greening of America) to put people back to work? Please, stop it. These projects take forever and will not likely produce any significant, immediate demand for the specific unemployed people we need to get back to work. Ask yourselves instead, where are there jobs begging to be filled, and what can you do to increase the need for employees elsewhere by increasing the demand for specific company products and services. “When?” (If you need to ask, you really are part of the problem.) Now. Not over the next 5, 10 or 20 years. Right now.

So, I came up with three suggestions. Any ideas you’d like to recommend?

-wf

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