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Monday, December 5, 2011

Empowerment

GOP candidates are weighing in and to some degree discussing solutions to the biggest problems in the United States, for the first time in my memory. Doesn't mean it hasn't happened, but the solutions suggested are making sense to me and the fact that they're talking about them in concrete terms instead of vague political jargon which means precisely nothing will be done, I'm excited for the change!

For example, reforming unemployment benefits to include job training. If someone is unemployed for a long time, it's highly possible their skills are obsolete. Take a paper-pusher. Paper is becoming obsolete, to the degree that electronic filing is taking over. These sorts of people need new skills. Middle-management positions are becoming obsolete, meaning those people need new skills. The idea of waiting for jobs to fit their skills are ludicrous, in these cases. I know of plenty of jobs available in the United States that go unfilled because of the lack of qualified applicants. Jobs like IT, computer technology, and other highly skilled types of work. I've even heard of blue-collar job openings in manufacturing, and I really don't know why they're going unfilled. Sometimes getting a job requires moving. I think a job is worth a move, a change of scene. Of course, I have moved several times, so it might make more sense to me than someone who has been in one place their entire life. Another job problem we've got is that people somehow expect that they'll be able to find a job doing exactly what they love. That's not realistic: the world only needs and pays for so many NBA players, journalists, artists, actors, English majors, psychology majors, etc. These people can keep up these sorts of things as hobbies, but the odds to support themselves in these careers are bad. Besides, when it comes down to it, work is work. Even doing something you love you'll have to do things you don't like, there are always ups and downs. As long as you don't hate it and it brings home the bacon, it's worth keeping!

Another example: including some sort of work requirement for food stamps. For people who are able-bodied, the idea that they can acquire all of their basic needs as freeloaders makes me writhe! Such as some people in South Chicago who would get Medicaid, food stamps (worth twice my monthly household budget), and section 8 for housing. And sometimes more programs. They had no need to work and no interest in working, were without gratitude for those of us paying their way or for their government creating these dependency programs. It is all-around an ugly thing. Note I'm not talking about disability here, though that program is also greatly abused. Instead of being freeloaders, the able-bodied can and should work for some of their basic needs, acquire new skills, and be able to get out of government-coddled poverty. And in turn, the government should help to empower citizens and get them off of welfare rather than wanting to keep them on it forever to keep their votes.

And last example: Social Security. The Chilean government effectively solved this problem by allowing workers to pay into their own private accounts, with some sort of government minimum guarantee. People saved so much of their own money, that Chile has very little dependency (at least for retirement) left. When we're talking so much about the number of working people decreasing in comparison to every recipient of Social Security, this sort of plan begins to make sense. Especially given that unemployment is high and government dependency before retirement is becoming increasingly common.

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