While no politician wants a large unemployed population, some of their policies seem to suggest otherwise. Here are eight ways to keep people out of work.
First, pay people not to work: Ignore studies showing that between a third and one half of those receiving unemployment compensation find work within one month of the expiration of their benefits. Keep extending unemployment benefits year after year in order to keep the unemployed permanently on the dole.
Second, import cheap foreign labor to replace American workers: At a time when unemployment among African-American teenagers exceeds 50%, follow the lead of big corporations seeking to increase profits by exploiting cheap foreign labor, and urge ICE to import more even more cheap labor on grounds that there is an “unskilled labor shortage”. Don’t blame the fact that some Americans eschew dirty jobs because of the low wages caused by the massive influx of cheap foreign labor; rather blame lazy American workers.
Third, increase the minimum wage to above market levels: This will insure that American employers will decline to hire unskilled workers willing to work at market wages (particularly unemployed teenagers), and instead encourage employers to ship jobs overseas.
Fourth, encourage labor unions to use their power to demand higher than market wages and benefits: This will insure that unemployed non-union workers willing to work for market wages will remain unemployed, and cause many employers to either go out of business (as did Braniff Air) or ship their jobs overseas (as industries are now doing today).
Fifth, extract capital from the productive private sector by raising taxes and redistribute it to finance inefficient government “programs”: Ignore the fact that after President John F. Kennedy slashed the marginal tax rates in 1962, as did Reagan in the 1980’s, government revenues skyrocketed. Instead, raise taxes (as Roosevelt did in the 1930’s to finance the new payroll tax) in order to insure a “double-dip” depression or recession as happened in 1937.
Sixth, pursue aprotectionist agenda of raising tariffs on imports to the U.S. in order to insure that other countries retaliate against American exports: This will cause world trade to diminish and put millions of Americans out of work who work in export industries. A similar agenda in the late 1920’s known as Smoot-Hawley helped usher in the Great Depression, ultimately resulting in a 25% unemployment rate.
Seventh, continue to promulgate job-killing regulations: Ignore the fact that according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in 2008 alone, the total regulatory cost of thousands of barely intelligible, byzantine regulations exceeded 1.2 trilliondollars—an amount equal to the entire amount the government collected in individual tax revenues that year.
Eighth, continue to follow the example of Greece toward economic ruin and massive unemployment by racking up unsustainable debt on the theory that we can “spend” our way to prosperity.
What is perhaps most remarkable about this primer for unemployment is that the policy makers in Washington have not ignored a single one of these eight recommendations for increasing unemployment. Rather they have adopted each and every one with almost pathological determination.
Robert Hardaway is Professor of Law at the University Of Denver Sturm College of Law, and the author of eighteen published books on law and public policy.