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Best Methods For Fixing Unemployment
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Best Methods For Fixing Unemployment:

 1 Barkey, Mon, 30th Apr '12 3:26:47 PM from Bunker 051 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War Profiteer
In the 2012 American Elections Thread, we started to discuss ways to spend money on welfare, and on fixing unemployment. I wanted to make a thread to extrapolate further, particularly in the arena of job placement agencies.

For my own specific example, I was laid off from my job in Security along with four other people due to budget cuts, and went on short tour orders with my Guard unit to sustain myself. I was technically unemployed and my orders had an expiration date to where I would go back to being a weekend warrior, which doesn't pay the bills.

I applied for jobs all over the place, and for every 50 jobs I applied for, I maybe got one interview. Most of these didn't yield second interviews or anything of the sort. When my orders ended, I sold my stock portfolio and a ton of my guns, and decided "Employment or Bust" on the condition that there was no way in hell I would apply for any sort of welfare.

Eventually I broke down and sought out unemployed veterans services in an effort to either get sent to a trade school or get help finding a job. Through some networking I found out about EDD, a public service in California that helps people find jobs, both civilian and veteran alike. I went in, did some paperwork, and sat down with a case manager who was a veteran herself. She helped teach me to write a more comprehensive resume, find good places to search for jobs(including a job board website specifically with EDD, with Employers who "opt-in" to post their jobs on the website. Many of these have actual posted wages so you know if its in the pay grade you want)

I continued to search for myself, while my case manager searched for jobs and would kick jobs my way that she felt fit my skillset. I had a few more interviews, and after those interviews my case manager would call these employers to discuss my interview, as well as the tax breaks received both for hiring a veteran, and for hiring through EDD itself. In the beginning of this month I got a job at an engineering firm that produces electric and hybrid vehicles, and I'm really enjoying it(Though I'm part time right now, working my days off since I got back on duty at the base. After the middle of may I'll be off orders and full time at this job)

I feel that funding needs to be increased for this service and that a federal level centrally focused employment agency would really benefit the country. In the long run I feel they save money by getting people in the workplace, off welfare, and producing more tax money by working a job. I think services like this are the best hope we have of kicking unemployments ass. It's basically like a temp agency that isn't out to fuck you.

Any Californians interested, take a look.

What do y'all think are the best methods for lowering the unemployment rate and getting people jobs?

edited 30th Apr '12 3:51:44 PM by Barkey

The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.
 2 drunkscriblerian, Mon, 30th Apr '12 7:16:46 PM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
Limit automation and outsourcing.

The second would actually be more difficult than the first, due to the power of the corporate lobby in America. However, outsourcing is a short-term solution to a long-term problem that the businesses of the world are going to have to come to terms with; that workers have steadily been demanding better working conditions down through history. Simply moving to another country with less labor laws looks good on a quarterly balance sheet but doesn't last forever.

As to the first...well, we limit the creations of science when they start to threaten our quality of life (atomic weapons/nuclear non-proliferation treaties, take a bow), and just because a machine can do a job, it does not mean that we as a society should allow that job to be taken by a machine. As an example, there are few jobs an earthmover can do that 15 guys with picks and shovels can't do just as well...and while fossil fuels are finite, manual labor isn't. Also, earthmovers don't have kids to feed. those 15 guys do.

The economy needs more jobs available where the only requirement is a willingness to get one's hands dirty. I see limiting automation as a way to do this.

If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
Moar and Moar and Moar
I like services like that, although I don't think they actually lower the unemployment rate, in most cases. The exception being when you need someone with a very specific skillset that is rare to find, but this is basically a drop in the ocean.

They're good because they help unconnected individuals find the connections to find gainful employment as well as lessening the pain of unemployment, and as some unemployment is a necessary evil, it's something we should accommodate for.

The "best" method for fixing unemployment is raising aggregate demand. Now, how that we should do that is the entire argument. Some people think tax cuts, some people think social spending, personally, I'm in favor of labor reform in the long run, although it's all about the same place. Raising wages in order to increase demand while at the same time encouraging competition to keep prices low.
Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
scratching at .8, just hopin'
Barkey: We have a government program similar to that up here, called Employment Ontario, and they're pretty cool.
The Federal EI program is also attached to a jobs board but in both cases I find they are probably lacking for a lot of people. Most of the jobs I see there are for lead or manager positions; positions that they wouldn't give to someone who is unemployed.

In general though I think a job board for unemployed/employed alike is useful. Just a national job board for all employers to post up a position and possibly indicate the salary/wage range, then let people drop in resumes electronically. I think it would be a good use of tax dollars, lower unemployment and push up people with better skills into better jobs.

 6 They Call Me Tomu, Mon, 30th Apr '12 10:46:13 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
While I'm all for services for job placements, aside from the side effects of expanding the economy by making it more efficient and removing friction, this is not a way of creating jobs. Why? Because all you're doing is placing people into positions-meaning that everyone that is placed into a job through a program that says "Hey, you're perfect for this, " that's a job someone else didn't get. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing, but the net number of jobs available remains fairly static. Ergo, this kind of thing, while helpful in times of low unemployment, isn't really a solution in times of high unemployment.

Long story short, this is mathematically unfeasible. That's not to say the program couldn't use more support, but basically it just means people not taking advantage of it are unemployed longer than those taking advantage of it-and if everyone starts taking advantage of it, what we have is a big program where we're paying people how to find jobs, but not actually creating any jobs. Again, when you have a lot of friction and a mismatch between supply and demand of labor, it's actually quite helpful, but in the current recession, this isn't the problem we're facing.

I'm afraid "You idiots-we can solve unemployment if we just stop throwing money into the poor and instead throw it at these programs" isn't right here-the math just doesn't check out.

edited 30th Apr '12 10:55:45 PM by TheyCallMeTomu

 7 Vericrat, Mon, 30th Apr '12 10:57:12 PM from .0000001 seconds ago
Like this, but brown.
Sorry Scrib, I'm gonna have to disagree with you on the whole automation thing.

While the earthmover may not have children to feed, the guy who invented it did. So did the guys who built it. Automation makes things more efficient, and while it sucks for the guys whose jobs are lost and have no other skills, it makes things cheaper for everybody, including the poor. That's not to say that things reliant on fossil fuels are great, but what if that earthmover was solar-powered? Manual labor is too.

I think that the answer is in education reform. Not about making everyone go to college - fuck that. More about making mandatory education worth a damn, so that people with a high school diploma have actual, usable skills. Our school system is designed to churn out factory workers and, as automation has reduced the need for such jobs, is badly in need of an overhaul.
THIS IS A PSA: As of 1/1/13 there is a 1-year moratorium on No Pants Thursdays. Instead, we shall celebrate No Pants 2013.
 8 They Call Me Tomu, Mon, 30th Apr '12 10:59:31 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
I'm all for reforming education-I mean, at that rate, it's about being competitive in a world market.

Of course, a lot of GDP is service related, in ways that can't be outsourced because it's domestic services. These fields are less competitive.

As always, I encourage investment in infrastructure.

Well, Tomu brings us a great point, spending money in things that don't provide jobs doesn't actually increase the total number of jobs available, thus does nothing to lower unemployment. It does a lot to improve the quality of employment though, which is also important.

One of the things I find really laughable about America is that just two or three weeks ago I read an article where a small business owner (at least that is what he professed he was) said he offered the "competitive" wage of 6.50 an hour, and if you were a manage, whoopee you could make 7.50 an hour! Then goes on to say that because people could earn more if you combined the estimated value of foot stamps, plus housing subsidies and so on, it was better to be on welfare... and his only competition would be to offer 100/hour to compete and go out of business!

Really, 6.50 is competitive? That's not even legal in any other Western country. Does that mean other countries should slap tariffs on American goods because they don't comply with our labour standards?

Wages are so low in America that China is out-sourcing to USA today.

There's a lot of things wrong with America and I think it comes in a few flavours:

  • America's premier industry, tech, is dominated by non-Americans. Are these corporations lowballing Americans sourcing out cheap labour? You know, a Google employee in India makes the equivalent of around 100k USD/year. Basically an emperor's salary over there. So no, I don't think it's that these tech companies are cheaping out, they actually can't find qualified labour in America. So if the post-secondary education in America can't compete with places like India, China, Canada, UK, France etc, Americans don't get jobs. With multinational corporations today earning more than half their income outside the USA, they can give up on the American populace and hire foreign.
  • The constant demand for throwback economy, blocking automation or other advances in society aren't useful. While they could potentially get jobs for Americans, you have to ask yourself what kind of job. The only way you do better than a machine is to get paid like shit.
  • On the flipside, people who demand that unions breakup or that Americans are too pampered seem to ignore how the median household income of America is far below everyone else, and the poverty rate is edging closer and closer to third world status. You don't just lower unemployment, you have to have meaningful employment.

So what is there to do? I'd say that you can go for several things:

  • Unemployment in the hands of the government based on your pay-in. No rules attached, you pay in, you get it.
  • Welfare assistance to the poor. Above a certain threshold income you start lowering the assistance at a 2:1 scale. This system is automatic. There's no point in having either proud people dying in the street nor is there a point in having people waste time gaming the system, they get what they get based on a computer calculation.
  • Start-up business program, in the order of 250 000 to 1 000 000 grants to individuals starting businesses that pass a spot-check (possibly hire the assistance of a bank to do the "grant approval")
  • Grants to small businesses
  • Tax credits for maintaining employment of individuals for small businesses
  • Special grants based on neighbourhood conditions, poorer the neighbourhood the more grants are given (I really dislike how the American system of grants is based on pencil pushers writing fancy essays to prove the government a bunch of things. Let's get results and stop trying to blame people)

 10 Ira The Squire, Tue, 1st May '12 2:04:20 AM from No idea. Measuring speed
Phyrexian Dalek
While the earthmover may not have children to feed, the guy who invented it did. So did the guys who built it. Automation makes things more efficient, and while it sucks for the guys whose jobs are lost and have no other skills, it makes things cheaper for everybody, including the poor. That's not to say that things reliant on fossil fuels are great, but what if that earthmover was solar-powered? Manual labor is too.

Apart from that, machinery also saves time. Time that low skill workers can spend on upgrading themselves to become high skill workers (and get better jobs) or other economic activity.
 11 Deboss, Tue, 1st May '12 3:36:26 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
I could make a crack about doom fortresses once again being the solution to all of life's problems.

Automation lets us do more with less. Educate the guys who are willing to sweat into a career field more worthwhile.
Moar and Moar and Moar
The proper way to deal with automation isn't to ban it. It's to find ways to spread the productivity growth through the population at large. It's why I say the long-term goal will HAVE to include labor reforms.

In short, we simply cannot afford the 40-hour workweek anymore, either on a social or an economic basis. It's going to have to be shortened, to account for increasing productivity. This will push us towards full employment, and eventually higher wages. It will hurt low-income workers in the short-run, but very few of them are getting 40 hour weeks anyway.
Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
 13 Barkey, Tue, 1st May '12 8:15:59 AM from Bunker 051 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War Profiteer
I don't see a problem with the 40 hour work week, the problem I see with productivity is that it isn't necessarily increasing, just that companies keep trying to do more with less. They lay off workers when the workload has not changed.

Essentially they are overworking the crap out of what they have because they "trim the fat"

Funny how the fat that never gets trimmed is the overabundance of "manager" or "analyst" positions. One manager to every 3 people is ridiculous.
The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.
Moar and Moar and Moar
And they're able to do that because the stuff still gets done.

Eventually, IF the labor market is able to recover and unemployment gets down to reasonable levels, this might have to change, as overworked people will leave to go to other jobs that are easier to do (people always underestimate the importance of Quality of Life), it might force a change.

Then again, the biggest productivity improvements over the last decade or two have come from computers being able to more accurately predict incoming business and create staff schedules accordingly. (Doing this used to be part of my job)
Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
 15 Barkey, Tue, 1st May '12 8:23:55 AM from Bunker 051 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War Profiteer
Yeah, it gets done with an unacceptable stress load on the employees, and a horrible work-life balance.

It's morally objectionable as hell in a lot of ways, and in the long run it isn't good for productivity. The productivity doesn't stay the same when you start slashing employees. The money spent goes down, but so does efficiency. Companies seem to lean back and smirk to themselves that they never have to pay for vacation time for their employees because manpower doesn't allow for vacation time or sick leave.

I've seen this in spades in the last industry I worked in. Vacation? Fuck no. Get sick? Best hurry up and get better in like two days, or you're gonna get laid off.

It's fucking sickening. Most businesses are so short sighted, they can't see past the two quarters ahead of earnings to their long term future.

edited 1st May '12 8:25:02 AM by Barkey

The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.
 16 Karalora, Tue, 1st May '12 8:41:45 AM from San Fernando Valley, CA Relationship Status: In another castle
Manliest Person on Skype
Most businesses are so short sighted, they can't see past the two quarters ahead of earnings to their long term future.

I read somewhere that we can thank Enron for that. If the officers of a corporation can't prove they're doing all they can to increase shareholder profits every quarter, they risk being indicted for fraud and embezzlement. Dunno how credible the claim is, but it would explain a lot.
 17 Barkey, Tue, 1st May '12 8:46:39 AM from Bunker 051 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War Profiteer
That's why despite being active in the stock market myself, I would never want my company to go public. Forsaking the integrity of a company for the sake of appeasing shareholders is wrong. That's why I always judge the business strategies of the companies I buy stocks in, they are all companies that won't yield tons of profits, but are stable. I go for companies that pay out dividends for just that reason.
The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.
 18 They Call Me Tomu, Tue, 1st May '12 8:48:51 AM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
Well, CE Os are hired in the here and now. You can't really reward them on the basis of 10 to 20 year profitability. It's actually a huge problem, with management having different interests from the shareholders and other stakeholders.

I'm not convinced that that's really the problem when it comes to unemployment though.

INVESTMENT NOTE: Really, unless you're Warren Buffet, it's really really hard to beat the spread (the indexes) by investing in stocks.

edited 1st May '12 8:49:53 AM by TheyCallMeTomu

 19 Barkey, Tue, 1st May '12 8:54:21 AM from Bunker 051 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War Profiteer
I invest in things like high income funds and stable stocks like a certain maritime transportation company. 12.5 percent dividends, careful slow growth, and they don't have any debt, they own their entire fleet of 12 suez-max tankers free and clear. I've done nothing but make money off them.

Greedy bastards out for a quick buck are people I have no interest investing in. The larger a company, the less of a regard they have for any of the ethics of their business practices. I do my best to vote with my money by investing in people who have both sound and ethical business practices.

Honestly I'm just disgusted with upper management types in general. Complete bastards with greedy and fucked up priorities.

edited 1st May '12 8:55:03 AM by Barkey

The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.
 20 They Call Me Tomu, Tue, 1st May '12 8:57:29 AM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
My point is, are you making as much money as if you'd just invested in the S&P 500. I'm pursuing finance, it's my job to get you the maximal return on your investments! (BTW: When I say "beat the spread" I am including risk factors and long-term earnings, not just "Oh hey, it makes 10 times as much, but let's ignore when you lose a shitload of money" and the like). Of course, if that's not your concern and you just want to "help the little guys" then by all means. Anyway, I digress.

Anyway, let's get back on topic.

edited 1st May '12 8:58:22 AM by TheyCallMeTomu

 21 Fighteer, Tue, 1st May '12 9:01:56 AM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
We need massive investment in job-creating programs that also provide tangible benefits to society (i.e., not just digging and filling ditches). Any economist who hasn't forgotten Econ 101 can tell you that growth begets growth, while stagnation begets stagnation. There is not a fixed amount of productivity available within our economy.

There are several areas that require focus.

  • Matching skilled workers with skilled jobs. This one is needed because businesses these days are reporting record levels of difficulty in filling highly skilled positions. We must invest in subsidizing training programs, increasing the deductibility of moving expenses, and otherwise facilitating this process.
  • Investment in infrastructure and similar capital improvement projects. There's no shortage of stuff to do: we have roads crumbling, bridges falling apart, major transportation projects unfinished. National fiber-optic and wireless networks need to be built to give everyone access to broadband Internet. Our power grids need massive improvement.
  • Investment in energy self-sufficiency and climate-responsible technology. We're doing some of this, but we can be doing so much more. Fuck Soylendra, the point is that this stuff is an ongoing investment that will pay dividends down the road.
  • Keep supporting the poor and unemployed/underemployed. Nobody should starve because they can't find work, if they are honestly looking. Correspondingly, raise the minimum wage to a living level. That poor businessman who can't afford to hire people for less than what they get on welfare? That's an abomination. Either he's doing it wrong or we are.
  • Embark on a nationwide program of consumer debt forgiveness. Cram down underwater mortgages. Relieve credit card debt. Part of the job market crisis is lack of mobility among workers, many of whom are tied down by houses they can't sell and/or the lack of available funds for moving.
  • Nationwide healthcare coverage. Keep ACA moving — sick workers are not productive workers.

If anyone asks, "How can we pay for this, " ask them, "How can we not pay for this?"

edited 1st May '12 9:08:25 AM by Fighteer

Neoclassicism, AKA the Tinkerbell school of economics.
 22 They Call Me Tomu, Tue, 1st May '12 9:06:32 AM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
"How can we pay for this" should be met with "with added revenue drawn from the additional growth of the economy" really. I mean, we wouldn't be doing a whole lot more than we're doing now. It's not like we'd be creating solid gold statues of people or anything.

The vast majority of the budget is split between Defense, Social Security, and Medicare/Medicaid.

 23 Vericrat, Tue, 1st May '12 9:17:25 AM from .0000001 seconds ago
Like this, but brown.
Fighteer, I only take issue with one of your points.

Embark on a nationwide program of consumer debt forgiveness. Cram down underwater mortgages. Relieve credit card debt. Part of the job market crisis is lack of mobility among workers, many of whom are tied down by houses they can't sell and/or the lack of available funds for moving.

I almost completely disagree with this. First of all, contrary to popular belief, lenders are just as deserving of being able to run a successful business as anyone. As long as they conduct their businesses legally and ethically, I don't see any problem with allowing them to collect on what's owed to them. I know if I decided to give you a loan for any reason, and you weren't paying me back, I'd exercise my legal rights to default under the contract. Should lenders just be SOL when borrowers can't pay back under the terms of the lending contract?

Secondly, even if you don't care about lenders, this will hurt consumers too, as less credit will be available all around if you follow this policy. If I know that there's a chance that the government is just going to say, "Well, you know what? Your contract that you took the time to craft and legally entered into is void, " I'm going to offer fewer loans, and all of them at a higher interest rate. Poorer people will have fewer opportunities to make large purchases (such as cars, houses, and start-up business capital) as well as decreased flexibility from an inability to obtain consumer credit.
THIS IS A PSA: As of 1/1/13 there is a 1-year moratorium on No Pants Thursdays. Instead, we shall celebrate No Pants 2013.
NCC - 1701
I sympathize with what you went through Barkey.

I think the problem with unemployment is the same problem with the economy in general, too few control the fate of too many.

In Hollywood, you used to have a dozen major studios, many more minors, and a fair number of independents. Then you got to a point where Columbia, Tri-Star, and Dimension are ALL owned by Sony.

So of course after a spate of flops, instead of just having one studio not hiring, you have three.

Just as many people are advocating a move from big banks back to credit unions, so to, I think that if we tell the big corporations to fuck off, and start revitalizing small businesses, we'll get more jobs.
It was an honor
 25 They Call Me Tomu, Tue, 1st May '12 9:26:07 AM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
The US can't just negate existing debt. They'd have to pay it back. Buying up failed mortages and letting families keep the collateral isn't somehow invalidating the lender's holdings.

The real issue is that, the adjusted-present-value of underwater mortages are basically near zero, because, well, they've been defaulted on. So it becomes a question of what's the best price to pay to get those loans. Obviously, if lenders know the government is going to buy all their underwater mortgages, then that knowledge raises the effective price of those mortages.

Anyway, I don't want to stray too far off topic, but the bottom line is, lenders aren't hurt by debt forgiveness because debt forgiveness does not mean "Ha ha lenders, you're no longer allowed to collect." At least, not as far as I understand it.

edited 1st May '12 9:28:07 AM by TheyCallMeTomu

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