Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Long-Term Unemployed

A short but sobering piece in Slate on the prospects for the long-term unemployed. In a word: bleak.
Mailing unemployment insurance checks to people who aren't so much unemployed as unemployable is obviously not an ideal public policy. But simply doing nothing for them is cruel and insane. The time-tested way of re-employing a large mass of long-term unemployed is to fight a major world war with Germany and Japan. The circumstances of mobilizing for major armed conflict in 1940–42 proved that when you really want to put people to work, it can be done. So it's always possible that the Senkaku Islands will come to the rescue. But large-scale armed conflict has a lot of offsetting negative consequences. What we need are targeted "mobilization" programs that don't rely on the outbreak of an enormous war. That would take, I think, two major forms.

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