By Ray Dunaway

The President and Vice President hopped aboard the People’s Jet and flew to Pennsylvania to announce another initiative, the 3rd or 4th this week.  With employment rate holding steady, the number of Americans in the job force remains problematic.  “It’s time to put America back to work” the President proclaimed.  Well, maybe those weren’t his exact words.

To be honest, I wasn’t paying attention, but having heard the man speak and proclaim over the years, I doubt that I’m too far off.  With a record number of us out of the workforce (92 million as of mid- January), obviously something has to be done.  And so, before a youthful crowd at a local community college, the President rolled up his sleeves (literally!) and announced another jobs program, which would bring the total number created during his term in office to a baker’s dozen.

And he still has 3 years to go.

If things work out, he could leave office having created another dozen or so.

I thought schools were supposed to train the young to thrive in their future careers.  High schools, technical schools (which by the way, are pretty impressive here in Connecticut), and colleges and universities are expected to, I would think.

Isn’t that what our taxes and tuition payments are for?

Then again, graduating with a degree in heteronormative cultural anthropology might limit your options a bit.

But assuming that some students have slept through class, maybe a jobs program could help participants make the transition from unemployment to work, and there are a lot of them out there.  A very broad web search returned 132 million hits.  Training programs are run by charities, municipalities, states and of course, the Federal government.  A trip to American Job listed a host of options, and surprises.  For example, a relic of President Johnson’s “War On Poverty” exists to this day; The Job Corps. Those were the days! As for the status of programs initiated by the Comprehensive Employment Training Act, known acronymically as CETA, it’s hard to tell.  I got tired of wading through the list.

By the way, if 132 million jobs programs do exist, that would work out to one program for every 3 Americans. I concede that 132 million is the result of a very wide search.

Were I to narrow things down, we might really be talking about 66 million. Still there are a lot of options out there.

So do we really need to spend another 600 million on yet another scheme?  Yes, we do.

In his book, Mau- Mauing The Flak Catchers, Tom Wolfe writes about a jobs program in the San Francisco Bay area, and the humiliation suffered by the administrator (aka The “Flack Catcher”), who’s job is to sit in a storefront “jobs center” and catch flak from the locals. Though he makes an earnest effort to make the plan work, the “clients” want nothing to do with training.

What they DO want is to get a job with the jobs program.

And that’s why the President’s new proposal might actually work.  600 million bucks translates into a lot of employment opportunities- running jobs programs.


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