Jobs are the Solution to Eradicating Poverty in America
Jobs are the Solution to Eradicating Poverty in America James C. Wilson, Ed.D. It isn’t news that jobs are the solution to almost all of society’s ills. The point is that jobs resolve many of America’s problems is far more than an abstraction. Putting people to work is good for people, good for business, and good for our society. Jobs put money in the pockets of the employed. That is the obvious benefit. The broader benefits are even more significant. The positive self-esteem of the employed is enormously significant. Self-esteem must not be underestimated. It means fewer gangs, fewer prostitutes, less crime, and far fewer people incarcerated. It means poor people will have better relationships with significant others, spouses, and other people. They will be better parents. They won’t have the very powerful anger at being left out of American society. These benefits are beyond the blatantly obvious benefit of getting paid for valued work. What becomes clear is that we all benefit. We won’t become victims of crime. We won’t have to pay for incarcerating two and a half million people at forty thousand dollars per convict per year. We can close prisons. The benefits of employing our poor are enormous in personal terms and in terms of costs. So the question remains, how do we get from here to a full employment economy that includes discouraged workers, underemployed workers, part time workers, and those who would otherwise be incarcerated? In a capitalistic society, business is concerned with making money and growing their business. From the American experience, we know that capitalism works well. It uses the incentives of individuals willing to put their capital on the line and their sweat to create their dream. Our huge mistake, however, has been the omission of sufficient incentives for American business to create jobs here at home. The sending of jobs overseas was un-American and immensely damaging to this country. This is where the role of government failed. Making money through private business is wonderful, but government should have stepped in to prevent American jobs from purposely being sent offshore. How could government not have been paying attention? Losing American jobs meant more unemployment, more gangs, more drug use, more violent crime, and more incarceration as well as more welfare, food stamps, and more prisons. Add to that list, the rash of Black American unrest. They may not understand how they have been screwed, but they are appropriately angry at being left out of the benefits of American society. Private business may have made money, but the costs to our society are far greater and ongoing. In a capitalistic system, the defender of workers has historically been the labor unions. But let us face reality, the unions have lost so much ground over the past fifty years, they no longer had the political power to stop the outflow of millions of American jobs. Due to the loss of union influence, the power structure has fundamentally been altered in America. Now, it is the President and Congress that must step up and protect American workers. Their failure to understand their role or worse, to have been bought off by American corporations, is unacceptable. The expression, “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem” applies. Losing millions of jobs overseas has been a hidden catastrophe for millions of Americans, as well as a disaster for the rest of the country. It is time to reverse this flow of jobs out of America. It is time for American government to assert its power to protect American jobs. The federal government needs a plan working with states and localities to bring back those millions of jobs. How do they go about this difficult process? First, the President personally meets with the CEO’s of the corporations that sent jobs overseas. He can jawbone with CEO’s to bring back the jobs. He can point out that much of manufacturing can now use robots and automation that makes manufacturing competitive with low cost labor overseas. He can promise to give the corporations good publicity and give them awards as “American Corporations of Merit.” He can promise coordination with states and localities on sunseted reductions on state taxes and property taxes to help pay for the transition of jobs back to the USA. He can guarantee school district creation of targeted career academies and community college career technical education programs in cooperation with specific corporations to provide a skilled workforce. Corporations that do not get on board with the President’s initiative can be publicly shamed. The President can call their boards demanding action or firing of their CEOs. If all these incentives don’t work, place targeted tariffs on goods being produced overseas. This should bring back jobs or provide an opportunity for another American business to step into the void. Is this creation of millions of American jobs possible? The jobs existed before, so why not now? I understand that automation will preclude one to one job recreation. However, we are talking millions of jobs, perhaps twenty million jobs went overseas. If we can bring back half of the jobs sent overseas, the impact on the American economy would create another couple of million jobs. We know people in the lower strata of employment tend to spend every dollar they have. This new spending will create its own inertia in further job creation in America. The benefits of this truly full employment economy can create a higher quality of life in America. This isn’t pie in the sky liberalism. We can have an essentially crime free society. We can save much of the costs of our criminal justice system. We can do all of this at essentially no cost to Americans, The incentives would be to put off tax revenue that wouldn’t have occurred had the business not relocated back to America. It just takes leadership to construct jobs that create this utopian future for America.