Way back in 1932, ole Franklin D. Roosevelt faced down the greatest economic emergency in this country's history. Roosevelt accomplished more in 100 days, than most President's achieve in two terms. Of course, Roosevelt had overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress after Hoover and the Republicans, had been repudiated and run out-of-town on a rail. FDR had something else, which is missing today, a functioning democracy.
I recently received a phone call from a website I frequent. A pop-up ad had asked if I'd be willing to participate in a survey. Well, truth be told, I only wanted to tell them where they were going wrong. I was willing to answer twenty questions, plus my two cents, but they wanted me to log into a website allowing them to watch my viewing history and then answer questions about where and why. I'm a good sport, but my first question was "How much does this pay?" The voice on the line explained, "Oh of course, we wouldn't expect you to do this for free, we're offering a $25.00 Amazon gift card.
"I work at home," I offered. "I spend half my time looking for work the other half working and when I'm not doing that, I'm working a part-time job for a belligerent maniac." My time is worth money, I need money to buy food and keep the lights on and it didn't escape my notice they called right before Christmas. Yes, tiny Tim, god bless us everyone. Hello Amazon? I'd like to order two paper clips and a rubber band please.
Twenty-four hours of participation and my renumeration was to be a dollar and pennies an hour. Maybe if I still had small children, I would have snatched at it. Its buyers market that sells us cheap, isn't it? Of course, old Frank Roosevelt, he didn't pay princely wages either. The boys on the Civilian Conservation Corp earned a dollar a day, but their living accommodations were covered and they were fed three hot meals each day. Many of the boys, if not most, had come from situations where they were lucky to eat one.
The CCC and the WPA were jobs programs where men built roads, parks, airfields, schools and public buildings. They offered classes in management, surveying, construction and mechanics gratis. The WPA paid musicians on Bourbon Street to give music lessons to children. The WPA operated traveling orchestras, dance bands and even a circus, because musicians, jugglers and lion tamers needed to eat too. Day camps for children with a hot meal at lunch. Young girls were given fabric and taught to sew, they got a meal, a skill and when the sun went down, a new dress.
To those with nothing a little means a lot. When you offer real help to those in need, you've made a friend for life. When you pretend to offer assistance, throwing a sack of Hoover's cracked wheat from the back of a truck or filling out forms, their enmity will never die. Because for every dollar you give you demand more in return. Can the unemployed and under-employed be fooled into believing their government really cares, when they're treated like crap?
Through the efforts of Roosevelt, the WPA, CCC and TVA, new communities were built which did not exist. Towns like Buford, Georgia and hundreds of others created from cross-roads and the small hamlets of Nashville, Huntsville and Atlanta became mighty cities. Business and industry prospered and merchants grew rich, only after the people were given work and paid in hard cash. Not a lot of money mind you, but enough. Enough to buy work boots gloves and maybe winter coat for the kids. Enough to keep a store open, enough to believe there was a future for us all.
I mention these programs only as a point of reference, fresh blood on the snow. Today's job creation programs are a little different; Barack Obama touted his jobs program, where corporations such as McDonald's, Banana Republic, the Gap and United Technologies work with local community colleges. Yes, that's right tiny Tim; you too can train to be a hamburger flipper, sales clerk or elevator repairman, after paying for your tuition. Participating corporations will get (Drum roll please)... tax credits. How many can be hired and how many will be needed, if millions have no income, with no reason to ride the elevator.
The corporations get workers trained at their own expense or subsidized by the tax payer. Community colleges get a steady stream of students, again subsidized by the tax payer and the workers get low paying jobs with limited futures with student loan debts to help remind them of their old school days. Instead of hot meals, they get vending machines, instead of traveling orchestras, the old song and dance.
You're fifty-five years old and looking for employment and as terms of maintaining your unemployment compensation, you must attend a job assessment. Why sure, all these years, you've been in the wrong career! The government needs to access you, n'est-ce pas ? This is all your fault, but government is willing to overlook your failures and correct your short comings, just fill out this form. And just when you think it can't get any worse, government proves you wrong.
Learn to Earn! Yes, Learn to Earn! This is the shining centerpiece of the Obama Administration's Jobs bill.
Learn to Earn is an innovative training initiative that was developed to provide work place training opportunities for eligible unemployment compensation claimants. It helps claimants reconnect to the workplace, broaden their network of work-related contacts and gain occupational skills. It also potentially could lead to employment.
See these workers lost contact with the workplace because...?
Learn to Earn can help employers find good candidates for job openings and train those workers at no cost. The training happens at the employers work site, up to 24 hours a week for up to six weeks. During that time, employers can observe trainee's knowledge, skills and fit with the organization. If it's a good match, the employer can extend a job offer.
And if it's not a good fit, the employer simply chooses another trainee from the pile. The worker gets his or her unemployment check, but is still responsible for fulfilling all of their other obligations to continue receiving their unemployment benefits.
Employers submit training opportunities, If approved, they can be become a work site training providers to unemployment claimants whose skills and interests match the opportunities. Only, riddle me this Batman, if the applicant's skills are a match, why do they need training? Why do they need six weeks training? And here is the best part, what do the unemployment claimants get? They get their unemployment check, no gloves or work boots, no gas money or jackets for the kids.