DICK BAYNTON: The Dignity of Work

Dick Baynton

Only a few years ago our nation was sustaining able-bodied workers who turned to government handouts when they couldn’t find a job. The folks who were not working voted liberal Democrat because that was their source of sustenance with monthly checks and refilled SNAP cards (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). In addition, more than 44 million high school graduates applied for and received student loans. Some of these young men and women were unprepared for the rigors of study and the disciplines of working toward the goal of a 4-year degree or even graduate degrees such as ‘Masters’ and ‘PhD’s.’ Some of these HS graduates must have been using student status as a postponement for gainful employment. Others realized that college was an intellectual or physical challenge that was beyond their willingness to compete and complete coursework.

The result is that taxpayers have been encumbered with $1.48 trillion in student debt by liberal government officials acting as fiduciaries/trustees. Considering that many would-be students dropped out, flunked out or walked out have abandoned untold billions of dollars of delinquent and unpaid student loan debt. Somewhere along the way in order to divert attention away from accountability, responsibility and integrity we have replaced productive work with societal segmentation. This means that we have showered people in lower economic groups with benefits taken from wealthier men and women. With little notice and no legislation we have replaced the dignity of work with an effort to insure lifetime equality for all by government fiat; that’s called socialism.

After a little over a year in office the current administration has improved the jobs picture to the extent that there are more jobs than jobless. That means that employers must find capable workers and set up training programs, wages must be increased to lure workers away from lower paying jobs and in many cases offer special benefits and even signing bonuses. The result is that according to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) an additional 2.5 million workers have been added to the employment rolls while unemployment has dropped by 770,000. The overall unemployment rate has fallen to 3.8% compared with 4.3% a year earlier.

The good news does not stop there. Black unemployment has fallen to 5.9% compared with 7.6% in May 2017. Hispanic unemployment has fallen from 5.2% a year ago to 4.9% for May 2018. Among women 20 years of age and older the unemployment rate has gone from 3.5% a year ago to 3.2% currently. More than five million workers are seeking jobs while there are more than six million job openings.

An important economic goal for the U.S. is to increase GDP (Gross Domestic Product) from the 1.5% during 2016 to above the 2.3% achieved in 2017. A 3% goal has been mentioned and this is achievable by increasing exports and thus reducing imports and improving productivity that increased by only .4% annual rate in the first quarter of 2018. On the other hand, labor rates (costs) increased by 2.9% annual rate in the first quarter. Note that a recent report by the OECD (Organization for Economic Development, a consortium of 35 nations) reported that our opioid epidemic may have had a dampening effect on productivity. A Princeton University professor found that opioid use from 1999 to 2015 may have negatively affected labor force participation rates by both men and women.

The worker shortage is particularly acute in cities and towns. Grant County, Indiana is offering $5,000 toward the purchase of a home to workers who will take an available job in the area, North Platte, Nebraska is offering up to $10,000 during a celebration to recognize new citizens and Hamilton; Ohio promises to pay off $5,000 of student debt. The state of Vermont is offering grants of $10,000 for workers who relocate.

This turnaround in employment opportunities has emerged in just the past year by an administration that has removed anti-business regulations, has released new money for hiring and wage increases, capital investment for expansion and equipment and facilities upgrades by installing new tax policies.

One of the few options for a Democratic platform to run on in November is to lie about these successes; they are good at that. Let’s hope voters are not gullible enough to swallow the noxious bait.

 

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