The reason it is difficult to solve the unemployment problem in this country is that the problem is systemic in nature. That is to say that rather than being the result of a simple coincidence, ‘the recession’, our unemployment issues arise from a number of institutionalized processes which have been in place for quite some time now. Consequently, simply addressing unemployment the way that we currently do is not productive in terms of solving the actual problem; in fact I believe that it in its current incarnation it may in fact be counterproductive. Instead, we need to come up with a plan for dealing with unemployment by correcting the faults in our system that create a steadily growing population of unemployed adults.
The first change we should make is, and I know I harp on this all the time, but we need to turn our trade deficit into a trade surplus by making America once again competitive on the global market. Of course, some will say that America is competitive, yet most of the labor and profits of America’s biggest companies end up acting only as a drain on the economy here. When we buy goods made in China from large multinational companies, the bulk of the profits end up in offshore ‘holding’ accounts, where they benefit no one except the owner (and this is particularly true with the drastic reductions in estate and capital gains taxes). In order to fully understand why this is a problem, it is important to take into consideration the benefits of other forms of spending. Spending locally, my favorite kind, puts your money to work for you in every way: the tax from the purchase benefits all the levels of government that you do and the price of your purchase reflects the cost of paying a fair wage, I would think that globally, as long as we have our minimum wage law, anything Americans legally make shouldn’t be considered unfair. Relatively few local business owners keep their money overseas, a substantial amount of the proceeds from your purchase will be reinvested in your local economy, and contributing to the market share of businesses that you support increases the likelihood that other businesses will implement similar policies and procedures to compete for your purchase.
This is not to say that all spending should be restricted to your local businesses, quite to the contrary, all forms of spending have effects, whether good or bad. The one thing that all forms of spending have in common is that the more money is spent, the more employment is available to provide whatever good or service that money is being spent on. So basically, doing anything with your money other than stuffing it in a mattress or putting it in an offshore tax haven is helping to reduce the overall unemployment rate. The benefits are not limited to unemployment reduction, for instance, not only contributes in various forms to the federal coffers, but can also be a tool to express your opinions on policy. For instance, I do not understand why there isn’t a massive boycott of states that are enacting these puritanical and ultra-invasive laws restricting the rights of American women to do just about everything. A similar support of states that enact laws protecting the rights of same sex couples or medicinal cannabis users would seem logical to me as well. Similar principles can be applied to spending globally. America has such a ridiculous amount of global spending power that any large scale boycott of a country for political reasons will be felt in that country.
I am not speaking solely about China either, as I would like to make it clear that the most important and beneficial statement an American citizen can make is to stop buying oil. At all, for anything. The oil industry, both here and abroad, has corrupted and raped both the planet and its people. Needless increases in gas prices despite a steadily increasing record level of profits, coupled with the supply restrictions of Saudi Arabia and Iraq, have had more of an effect on all forms of price inflation in this country and across the globe than any single factor. While all sides of the media seem conflicted about the solution to high gas prices, they seem to be missing the one obvious solution: tax the bejeezus out of total oil and gas profits should their net profits reach over a certain amount. Faced with either lowering prices or losing a greater percentage to the tax man, we would see them decrease their prices to a reasonable level. While this can easily be labelled as ‘market control’, remember that it is our market, and as long as people are so reliant on oil for their transportation, heat, cooking, and whatnot, these companies are using price fixing to hold us hostage, while making absolutely inconceivable amounts of money by causing multiple global recessions. The market doesn’t belong to the owners, the market belongs to the consumer, as long as they use their consumption effectively. The long term goal to recover from our unemployment nightmare needs to be to get the United States to a point where our money creates more jobs here than it creates overseas, because until we do so we will be unable to stop the dwindling amount of decent American jobs.
This concludes pt. 1, pt. 2 will focus on reforming the unemployment safety net itself.