America’s Non-Employment Policy

by Paula Apynys for The Economy, Working

Currently America lacks an Employment Policy. There are a hodge-podge of efforts trying to mitigate unemployment but there is no proactive effort in Washington to develop and sustain employment in America.

I think  (obviously this is a broad statement) there is a widespread belief that jobs are the natural fruits of other things — that if deficits are low or taxes are at the “right” levels and/or the stock market is thriving or new markets become available overseas — if some combination of these is effectively managed, then jobs will naturally follow. So far they haven’t. But rather than questioning the underlying assumptions, our leaders continue to try to improve the results by adjusting interest rates (or refraining), trying to open overseas markets through trade agreements and making various tweaks to the tax code, etc.

What they don’t do is sit down and address the issue directly. They don’t ask: “what can we do to ensure that people who want to work can find employment?” (Ideally at a living wage or better, with decent benefits and security). Tackling the problem directly would lead people down several uncomfortable paths of inquiry wherein they would have to question a number of assumptions and conventional wisdoms — something people in general tend to avoid and politicians positively flee from.

(To be fair to Politicians, it’s hard to balance trying to change things that people are used to while also trying to please people who don’t like change WHILE keeping campaign dollars flowing from people who fear they will be financially impacted — negatively — by such changes.)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Economics and one thing I’m gathering is that WHAT-THEY-TEACH-IN-COLLEGE about Economics is almost completely irrelevant to the real world. Economic theory deals in abstractions and seems to be based on the idea the humans are rational actors. That right there is absurd on it’s face. People engage in rational behavior certainly, but we do not, I repeat, DO NOT, live rationally. We live emotionally. We are swayed emotionally. We make meaningful decisions emotionally and use logic primarily for things we don’t care about. (I.E. people compare prices for dishwashers but they pick Colleges because of Football Teams, as an example.)

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I think Employment is inextricably entwined with Environmentalism. This is because legacy industries use “jobs” as a wedge. They essentially tell people “if you do the right thing by the earth you will die unemployed, poor and miserable”. Fracking will bring jobs! (Never mind that it poisons groundwater and causes cancer.)

We have to start making Employment/Jobs a GOAL, not a lucky side-affect.

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