EMPLOYMENT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Intro: We need jobs for all Americans, not just those of high cognitive functioning or those who can be educated for high level employment.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau and the Economic Policy Institute Report of September 2012 have defined poverty as a family of four (with 2 children) earning less than $23,000 per year. Doing the math as to what this means per capita is simple; the answer is shocking. It is shocking because we know the cost of living in America.
According to Business Week (November 15, 2012) “The ranks of America’s poor edged up last year to a high of 49.7 million, based on a new census measure that takes into account medical costs and work-related expenses.” This is more than disturbing. It is of concern across the aisle and across the ocean. Poverty in the U.S. is the lead story of the last edition of the British conservative magazine The Economist. It touches everyone, not simply bleeding-heart liberals.
A numerical picture is not just being painted for the most impoverished class. It is clear from this data that many in the middle class are living with so little money that credit is, by necessity, the only way to make many purchases and indebtedness has become the norm.
Economic vulnerability is causing enormous emotional stress which then plays out in every direction. There is tension in homes and in people’s daily interactions with each other. It presses in on people, from our children to those in their ‘golden years’, causing low self-esteem, homelessness, bad health, addictions, criminal activity, violence, abuse, neglect, unsafe streets, and mental and emotional breakdowns. There is an on-going downward cycle of diminishing options for recovery. There is little possibility for resiliency when the storms of life arise.
While there are many contributory factors to these economic woes one of the most important is not having a way to earn sufficient money. Many of us within the U.S. with high cognitive functioning are encountering great challenge in finding work; some are recent college graduates with burdensome debts. But, many more of us, who are not so gifted cognitively or who do not have connections to family run businesses or who are women with dependent children or who are not savvy in the ever more sophisticated arts of self-promotion, etc. are finding it even tougher. And, if a job is landed, it is part-time or its pays is extremely low.
We are as strong as our weakest link. And, lots and lots of links are getting weak, very weak indeed. Right livelihood is a core principal of almost all spiritual traditions. It is something that is to be honored and is the cornerstone of a healthy democracy.
Keep President Obama to his word regarding bringing back jobs that have been out-sourced to other nations. Ask him to bring together economists, business people, engineers, IT people, politicians, workers and labor leaders to share their ideas and come up with integrative ways to make this happen : from creating economic enticements to cleaning up fraud in worker’s compensation claims.
Increase the federal minimum wage incrementally in the next four years to $12 per hour (the exact amount to be adjusted to inflation).
Call for whatever leadership is required to help the people of this nation understand that paying more for homegrown goods and services means jobs and economic welfare for Americans. Buying one new pair of well made jeans instead of two is good for your neighbors and good for you!
Establish a consortium of corporations, foundations, and government that will fund a Comprehensive Employment Agency for the 21st Century, staffed with people who have demonstrated the capacity to think integrally, to work with diverse points of view, to continually learning, and to work passionately on behalf of all our people. Some of the tasks that this agency could take on would be to:
- explore ways to encourage employers to hire on more employees en lieu of asking their existing employees to work ever longer hours.
- gather together those who have brought us “down-sizing”—the engineers , IT people, machinists, motion analysts, and manufacturers for the purpose of utilizing their expertise to create new smart ways to make quality goods in the U.S. that use fewer workers than are being used abroad in sweatshops.
- provide a two ways linkage with research groups in academia, independent innovators, and think tanks regarding employment.
- create state of the art training materials and a significant pool of super mentors with deep knowledge and experience in the field of employment — the best of the best–to teach, guide and problem solve with job coaches and job developers all over the country. (The super mentors would be available in real time and delayed.)
- develop a resource group to help guide the creation of curriculum and training programs tied in with a data base of jobs needed now, designed to assist people with gaining employment fairly quickly.
- establish a large scale resource collective of specialists, in touch with what is evolving in the U.S. and through- out the world, capable of providing consultation in the many aspects of educational development that interface with employment.
- explore sources of money to fund education and training for employment that will bring financial abundance to all concerned. Currently many schools that have been establish to this end, such as the community colleges in our most populous state, California, have closed whole departments due to lacks of funds. This is occurring even as many businesses say they are looking for trained people to employ.
- explore economic incentives to encourage large companies and small businesses to take on new employees.
- explore new models for work such as “work-sharing” and people retiring between the ages of 62 and 65 with no loss of retirement benefits if they commit a certain percentage of time, say 30 hours a week, to job mentoring. The jobs vacated would be open to new employees whose payroll deductions would be add to the coffers of the various entitlement and safety net programs such as social security and unemployment insurance. And, we would have knowledgeable people committed to training those who come after them as opposed to stressed out, uncommitted, tired older workers waiting only to ‘get out of Dodge’.