Fox Business had an article last week about 9 countries where everyone has a job (unemployment under 5%). Interestingly, most of these countries are in Asia or are former members of the USSR and many of them are agriculturally based, or in the case of Austria, have a large manufacturing base.
What does that mean for the US? It is possible to have a fully employed workforce.
What else does it mean? We need to take another look at business in this country and bring ourselves back from the brink of disaster. We need to do something to encourage manufacturing jobs to stay in, or return to, the US. Obviously, with the highest business taxes in the world at 21 or 22%, the first goal is to lower taxes and penalties on companies that choose to stay here in the US. That just makes sense. No large corporation is going to stay here in the US when they can pay fewer taxes and make more profit by moving to Asia or former Eastern Bloc countries and exporting those items back into the US. Another thing we should do is examine our import and export taxes, again if its going to cost more to ship goods out of the US than it is to bring them in, why should any self-respecting corporation stay here in the US?
I’m not an economist or a business major, but some things make sense. If I’m going to open a multinational manufacturing company, I’m going to look for the cheapest place to build that company. If the business taxes are 21% in the US, 15% in Russia, and 12% in Taiwan, Taiwan appears to be the logical choice as the base of my operations. A smart business person is then going to reinvest the profit from their company back into the economy that is treating them so well. The economies of Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, Chicago, and other former manufacturing hubs in the US could really use some reinvestment, but if there are no businesses, who’s left to reinvest? The federal government? 26% of GM is owned by the federal government (thank you bail-outs!) and they just cut their research and development sections so that they could show more of a profit during this fiscal year. (Which just happens to end in October-just before a huge national election. Must be a coincidence). Where is GM’s reinvestment in Lansing? Sure, bringing in the Lugnuts minor league baseball team in the mid-1990s was a good idea, but what about housing, cleaning up the streets, and assisting with the things no one wants to see? Like poverty…
Which brings me to another part of the Fox Business article-Belarus. Interesting country, I don’t know much about it, but one thing in this article caught my eye and gave me an “Ah-HA!!!!” moment. In Belarus, in order to receive unemployment benefits, one must register with a public works project. If one stops their public works commitment, then their benefits stop as well. Can you imagine! Let’s imagine that the US instituted something like this-in order to receive welfare benefits, unemployment, or any other public assistance (aside from accurate, DOCUMENTED, social security disability-and I don’t mean because alcoholism is a “disease” or your drug abuse keeps you from working) you are required to perform X hours a week of community service with the local public works department. WOW! You want to see the number of assistance dependent people drop, just require them to work for benefits!
I like this idea for a number of reasons. 1)The potential workforce is HUGE! 2)There is a never ending list of public works projects that these people can choose from: cleaning toilets at the local ballpark (because they are always nasty), picking up trash on the side of the road, mowing lawns for elderly people, cleaning up abandoned property, scrubbing graffiti, fixing fences, mentoring at the local Boys and Girls Club or YMCA, the list goes on and on. 3)The entire nation would look better. 4)These individuals would feel a sense of accomplishment and MAYBE they would use this work experience to segue into a career or more permanent job. Its a win-win-win for everyone. Those individuals who feel that the government should assist those who cannot help themselves win because this is a public assistance program and these individuals are receiving benefits. Those individuals who feel that the government gives assistance to people to easily and there is not monitoring of government assistance win because in order to receive the benefits, individuals need to work and may, GASP, learn a trade that allows them to get off public assistance. And the individual communities win because there are fewer people at home doing “nothing” or very little because they are living off the government, you should see a drop in crime and drug use because people are out doing something and idleness breeds crime, and the unemployment rate theoretically should drop because people are learning trades that can be translated into jobs. Not to mention the benefits everyone gets from having well taken care of communities.
Where is the problem? Implementation. How do you transform our current system into one that is beneficial to all? Who’s going to run it? Is it going to be a federal or state run program? Cost. Who pays for it? What is this going to cost? Is there a cost-savings in the end? Benefit. Who benefits from this program? Limitations. Do you allow those with criminal records to participate? Do you drug test participants? How does an individual get placed on a project? Is there going to be mandatory training for certain jobs or do previously held jobs play a part in the decision of who goes where?
I think that if someone took this seriously, they could come up with the answers to those questions. But, will anyone with the authority take a suggestion like this seriously? Probably not, after all, the running theory is that “if something is broke, let’s throw money at it instead of fixing it.”