Like most Americans, I’ve been thinking about our high rate of unemployment. True, it just dropped from 9.0 to 8.6 percent. That’s better but it’s still way too high—perhaps the one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on. So what to do? I admit that Facebook comments, viral emails and talk-show hosts have been revealing the answer all along and I… I was too dumb to understand. But not anymore.
We can easily lower the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent, 4.6 percent and even 1.6 percent. All it takes is for every unemployed American to get off his or her backside and get a job.
Why Congress failed to pick up on this mystifies me. Democrats say that pumping up government spending will get all kinds of infrastructure and energy projects going and create jobs. Wrong! Republicans say that cutting government spending will put more money in businesses’ coffers and consumers’ wallets—and create jobs. Wrong! No wonder we witnessed the recent—if hardly unexpected—failure of the Congressional supercommittee. They didn’t get it.
But let’s not kid blame Congress. Or Wall Street. Or the banks. Or CEOs taking home ten or twenty or forty million dollars in salaries, bonuses and stock options. They all mean well. Let’s be honest and point the finger at the real guilty parties. Us! We Americans just don’t want to work. If we did, according to the pundits who’ve enlightened me, we would.
Take a middle manager who used to make $60,000 a year. Obviously, said manager would rather kick back on a fraction of that amount paid in unemployment insurance—while it lasts. And that’s despite Oprah going off the air months ago and Regis Philbin recently following suit. These lazy Americans would rather lie around the house all morning then spend all afternoon nursing a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts than barge into their old employers’ offices and demand their jobs back. Companies only lay off employees who want to be laid off.
Or maybe that former manager should barge into that Dunkin’ Donuts’ manager’s office and demand a job brewing and serving java. It wouldn’t pay much, but what’s really important is showing initiative. Every company wants employees with initiative. And they’ll hire those employees when they feel more confident about the future. Which they won’t until millions of work-averse Americans stand up and pledge allegiance to a marketplace unfettered by regulation and the continued recognition of corporations as legal persons for the purpose of making unlimited political donations to kill off regulations real or proposed. The problem is, Americans are couch potatoes. Maybe they’d stand up if they could, but they can’t.
Honestly, if the unemployed don’t realize that getting a job is as simple as saying, “I want a job,” then off with their heads. And if they somehow manage to hold on to their heads and keep making noise, then I propose a sobering retort: “Let them eat cake!”
We know how that worked out for Marie Antoinette and her crowd.
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