The President’s Jobs Speech: First Draft

Mister Speaker, members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

We have a jobs problem. Believe you me, I’ve spent a lot of time lately wrestling with this thing.

You know, the 2009 stimulus bill – wait, don’t laugh! – it was supposed to employ armies of people in construction, on infrastructure projects, which Lord knows we need. Remember “shovel ready”? Yeah, right. FDR somehow was able to just hire guys and put ‘em right to work. But today, we’re too balled up in bureaucracy and environmental impact reviews and all that crap, the government can’t even find its backside anymore with both hands.

Then a lot of people say we should give businesses incentives to create jobs, with all kinds of tax breaks and other subsidies. We actually have a lot of experience with that sort of thing; and it does work; only it seems it always costs taxpayers like a million or two per job created. We could job-create ourselves into the poorhouse that way.

Then there’s that old stand-by, job training. Yeah. Give me a break. Government already has, like, 867 job training programs going. Ain’t none of ‘em worth diddly squat, ‘cept to the bureaucrats who get paid to run them.

And that’s a real shame, because if you step back and look at this thing a different way, it’s not so much a job shortage we’ve got, as a skill shortage. Oh, there’s actually plenty of work to be done; but we don’t have the folks who can do it. Lookit, a third of them don’t even finish high school – who the heck is going to employ them? Considering that fact, you should be giving me a goddamn medal that the unemployment rate is only 9%. Job training is all well and good, but what you gonna do with all those folks who can hardly even read or write worth shit? In today’s high-tech economy? Come on.

So then you step back again and ask yourself why so many people are so uneducated. You know, we actually have a lot of good schools. In the nice affluent neighborhoods. Kind of goes hand-in-hand. But where the neighborhoods suck, so do the schools. It’s actually ironic, the affluent kids don’t even really need great schools, they’ll be fine no matter, but the kids from the crappy neighborhoods, they’re the ones who really really need good schools or they’re cooked; and they’re the ones who get the worst schools. But I can’t mention “school choice” or the teachers’ union’ll have my head.

But it’s actually not a mystery how to educate even the most disadvantaged kids. Time and again we see when you get a real fireball of a principal in there, seeming miracles are accomplished. Leadership matters. Unfortunately, however, not every school principal can be a break-the-mold fireball. In the real world, we have to put up with mediocrity. No one’s figured out how to overcome that.

But then you want to step back again and ask yourself why these neighborhoods gotta be crappy, and filled with “problem” kids that ordinary mediocre school folks just can’t deal with. Yeah, yeah, single moms are heroic, tell me all about it. So how come all the neighborhoods I’m talking about are filled with single moms? You know, it wasn’t always like this. Couple generations ago, black people had the highest marriage rates. Today 70% of black kids are born fatherless. Seventy percent! How many of them gonna wind up in college?

So I’ve wrestled with this jobs thing, and I conclude there isn’t much I can do about it, in the sixteen months I’ve got left anyway. You might say, “We need a different president.” I think we need a different population.

Anyhow, you can have yourselves a different president. I’m moving to France, where I’m appreciated, and run there.

God bless America.

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3 Responses to “The President’s Jobs Speech: First Draft”

  1. Alfredo De La Fe Says:

    “In the real world, we have to put up with mediocrity. No one’s figured out how to overcome that.”

    Unions deserve a nice chunk of blame for this. The mediocre get rewarded on a regular basis just for showing up to work, or in the case of a city like NYC, sometimes they dont even have to show up to work.

  2. Lee Says:

    I agree that many of these issues contribute to inefficiencies in our economy, but I think the biggest issue is one that you didn’t state. Specifically, economics is a cycle: if I don’t have a job then I can’t buy things from the store; if the store isn’t selling things then it can’t justifying hiring me as an employee. In other words, in a very real sense the economy is a self-fulfilling prophesy that will do tomorrow what it did today. All the other issues serve only to tweak that somewhat.

    The cycle can spiral downward with more and more lay offs leading to fewer and fewer sales and so on, or it can grow wonderfully. To get to the latter from the former we need to prime the pump. We need to get people who aren’t spending to spend and we need to get companies that aren’t hiring to hire. We need them to do this even though today’s economy gives them many sound free-market reasons not to do so.

    Three ways to accomplish this are fiscal policy, tax policy, and monetary policy. Our current political climate that focuses on deficit reduction and the economically inefficient hawkish approach to foreign policy means that fiscal policy is very difficult right now. Tax policy is also problematic, as those who already are unemployed aren’t going to benefit from a cut in their income tax rate; we’d have to have actual “undeserved” cash payments to consumers to make much headway there. Similarly, “undeserved” tax incentives to companies to directly encourage hiring might work. Fortunately things aren’t worse than they are already, because Benanke has monetary policy in full gear; but that means there is little additional we can do with that.

    [FSR comment: Of course people without jobs can’t spend, and that fuels unemployment because businesses can’t hire or keep staff if they’re not selling. That’s why govt simply hiring people to dig ditches, a la 1930s, makes some sense — but as I said, the problem is that govt doesn’t seem able to do anything simple and direct like that anymore. Likewise programs giving businesses incentives to hire — which have a tendency to unfortunately cost more than they’re worth.]

  3. Mac Says:

    Lee,
    Yes economies are cyclic but they tend to recover on their own when allowed to. Compare the 1920 depression to the 1929 depression. The 1920 depression actually started off worse than 1929 but Harding cut spending and cut taxes. By the summer of 1921 the depression was over and the “twenties roared.” In 1929 Hoover and later FDR raised taxes (especially on the rich) and spending. The 1929 depression lasted into WW2, more than a decade later. The basic message here is that Keynesian economics while it sounds plausible really does not work well at all.

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