As a career counselor, during the Great Recession I hear a lot of sad stories, see deep frustration among otherwise productive people, and sense the fear resonating among many displaced workers and those who are afraid to leave less than satisfying jobs. We are all realizing that the descriptions given in 2008 of “economic meltdown”, “economy falling off a cliff”, and other hyperbolic cliches were indeed accurate. This has been a terrible recession for many and the climb out of it, especially for those looking for stable and decent employment, has been arduously slow and painful.
Like many Americans these days I am ready to push aside my social and political wish list in favor of only one overriding priority-the creation of jobs. Too much unemployment diminishes us as a people. Personal depression, anti-social behavior, anxiety, stress, and apprehension for the future are among the negatives affecting too many of us, resulting in widespread social despair. If ever there was a time when Americans needed to come together and work cooperatively on lifting the employment picture it is now.
But this does not seem to be the case. Instead we see the following
- A President who is calling for bipartisan solutions and instead is running into opposition from a Right and Left who both think they each have all the answers.
- A Tea Party opposition, which has taken over the Republican Party and that is obsessed with only three things, the Federal debt, making government inconsequential, and limiting President Obama to only one term.
- Corporations that are reportedly flush with cash, but don’t want to hire because of the uncertain economy.
- Lenders who don’t want to lend, because they are afraid they won’t get their money back.
- Investors who by and large don’t want to invest, because they see too much risk.
Yikes! So who is going to step forward and break this logjam? I wish I knew. But given my non-economist trained perspective here is what I see. Money, whether direct cash subsidies or tax incentives, needs to be injected into the economy to encourage companies to hire. And money comes in two forms, private capital and government expenditures. Now private capital seems to be in a self-imposed escrow or lock box and God knows, spending any more government money is akin to treason these days. So we have a choice, do nothing and blame each other for incompetence and lack of vision or reach some sort of public / private sector compromise. As I see it, government and the private sector need to each contribute in a collaborative fashion to a stimulus that results in job creation.
Solutions have to be practical and they need to save everyone face, or as they say in politico-linguistics, speak to their base. I’m sure that people smarter than me can come up multiple options, but here are two examples of what seem attractive:
One, give tax breaks to corporations that hire. Instead of incentivizing corporations to send dollars to foreign governments in order to escape our high corporate tax, let’s change the schematic and encourage them to hire Americans instead. And what about small business start-ups, one of the greatest sources of hiring historically? Let’s give steroids to the sluggish time-wasting U. S. Patent Office to spur innovation and also examine ways to reform Sarbanes Oxley, so that it doesn’t discourage highly skilled start-ups while continuing to provide regulation and oversight that discourages crooked and narrow minded boards of directors.