The stimulus package passed by Congress earlier this year was supposed to do something similar, but in the face of fears of being called socialists by the Republican right, the money was supposed to be channeled through private contractors. Which was probably better than if no money had been spent, but the stimulus hasn’t worked as quickly as it would have if the middleman had been eliminated.
The current unemployment rate is 10%; the underemployment rate is 17.2%. Fifteen point four million people are looking for work; 11.5 million people are looking for more hours of work.
And yet there are 535 potential job placement agencies going untapped.
If that number looks familiar, yes, it’s the total number of seats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Each and every one of them has staff members to handle what is often called constituent services. These people can help you if you have a disagreement with the IRS, they can get you a guided tour of the Capitol, but mostly they redirect people who have problems that need to be handled on a state or local level or just provide a polite audience to people who call in to gripe.
So why not extend their duties to something a lot more meaningful: helping their boss find jobs for the people he or she represents. Each senator or representative could solicit résumés from constituents looking for work; they could be sent in electronically. The pols could match the job seekers with openings they’ve solicited from both private and public sector employers.
Imagine the joy that would result from a voter getting an email from Washington: We have a job interview for you.
Of course, we are told there are six job-seekers for each available opening right now. That’s a problem, all right. But if each member of Congress were sitting on a huge number of résumés, that would acquaint them up close and personal with the depth and seriousness of the unemployment problem, and exert an overwhelming pressure to come up with a real and prompt solution to the situation.
At the very least, each of them would have to add several staffers to their offices and that would start putting Americans back to work, with livable salaries, health benefits and pensions.