Nov 20, 2009

Economic policy not focused on creating jobs

Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson hit the nail on the head with his column on Thursday when he said politicians’ Jobs, Jobs, Jobs mantra is just a campaign slogan for many.

It’s good news that the University of Michigan’s Research Seminar In Quantitative Economic said Thursday that the national economic recession that began at the close of 2007 ended sometime this summer, but with the high unemployment and so many people hurting, it really has not ended. In fact, they said country will endure a recovery that only slowly produces new jobs.

In his column, Dickerson interviews Professor Richard Block, the former director of Michigan State University's School of Labor and Industrial Relations and a professor there. Block makes the argument that “job creation hasn't been the focus of economic policy in this country for more than half a century -- and still isn't.”

Block went on to say, “what economic policy makers are really focused on is maximizing profits. Most are confident that higher profits will eventually yield enough jobs to put the vast majority of Americans back to work. But Block sees no reason to share such confidence as long as corporate managers, political leaders and ordinary Americans continue to view employment as a business cost, rather than a source of income vital to any sustained recovery.”

"Our economic policy is all about reducing the cost of doing business -- reducing taxes, minimizing regulations and other constraints on employers," Dickerson quotes Block as saying.

Block has some common sense suggestions for job growth, but I’m sure Republicans’ heads exploded at this suggestion: “the United States could do three things most of its European allies have been doing for decades.” If that preamble didn’t cause Republicans to dismiss him and his views, the actual suggestions surely will.

• Increase severance pay requirements for laid-off workers, making it harder for employers to slash payrolls.

That’s the first, and most times only, thing employers look at to cut costs. It's certainly not CEO compensation for the people responsible for running the company into the ground that gets cut. It makes we wonder when they get rid of these employees, who then has the money to buy the product they produce that makes the economy grow? The fact is the auto workers are the most loyal customers and buy the cars they produce.

• Require that any major economic policy initiative acquire the support of institutions authorized to represent the interests of both employers and workers, as Britain and other European manufacturing states experiencing profound dislocations like Michigan's have done.

• Strengthen the collective bargaining system, so that workers' political power is concentrated.

If the head’s of Republicans had not already exploded from the European reference, this surely will. Republicans hate unions and working people.

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