Obstacles to employment confound good intentions.

Why are so many people not being hired by companies that are seeking workers but seeing a shortage?

One reason is mask mandates and requiring people to get an experimental injection. Many workers don’t want to do either of these things. Potential workers can’t understand what covid has to do with working because the covid illness was less deadly than a typical flu. Lots of hype surrounded covid and lots of demands. Boiled down to essentials, however, we have a PCR test that produced a lot of false positives that look scary but paired with a normal deathrate in 2020 we can see that covid isn’t as bad as the press has made it appear. Increasingly, health problems and deaths are associated with the experimental injection. There are more than ample reasons for would-be employees and employers to say no to all covid demands. But politics associated with mandates make negotiating in the context of covid harder than it should be.

Another reason why workers may not be signing up for jobs is the crazy logic of lean dynamics in the workplace. When every move is analyzed and specified to the worker, it can be overbearing and no-fun. Work can be enjoyable but working with unreasonable specificities can undermine a job especially when it is already a difficult set of tasks that need talent and determination to do. Lean strategists are happy to take credit for improving efficiencies but they run away when you show them that fewer and fewer workers want to do the lean-ever-leaner strategy. Lean strategies and computer monitoring of productivity with constant pressure to be more productive creates an unpleasant workplace environment. Years after lean strategies were introduced, there are fewer STEM jobs that pay well and fewer qualified people who want to do them. And that’s in an economy that’s supposed to rely heavily on technology!

As well as lean dynamics, there’s the obstacle course of unknown algorithms that represent mysterious requirements for any job that uses them. I have heard that potential job seekers should research key words in order to trigger algorithms. I can’t help thinking that the employer instead of using an algorithm could just communicate better about what will make an employee more likely to succeed. Potential employers aren’t required to show what algorithms do and when they use a screening algorithm, they miss out on an opportunity to communicate constructively with a potential employee. I have also read ads that are overly specific descriptions of what is required in a job, sometimes tailor-made as a comment against the person who last held the position. For example in a recent ad I read: “employees aren’t allowed to complain to customers about working conditions.” I have seen the requirement for a technical writer to negotiate with everyone on staff (all strangers for the applicant) who might need to utilize a writer’s abilities, to ensure that there isn’t any in-fighting over the use of the technical writer’s time. As though a technical writer could keep people on staff from fighting each other and still find time to write. I’ve seen the requirement that an applicant should not apply if they would be injured by workplace ergonomics. Amazing and sort of unbelievable. Perhaps they were simply to avoid making a complaint about an ergonomic problem.

Jobs have something to do with making money. Making money is important in a market economy and businesses working in a market economy use profits and losses to determine what to make more of and what to stop producing when something isn’t profitable. People work because they like to make money so that they can exchange their earnings for valued goods and services. In a financialized economy underwritten with Federal Reserve dollars, the market mostly disappears. Production is replaced with bets on the stock market. With the Federal Reserve ready to save reckless investments, there’s no penalty for malinvestments.

For more than ten years, the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates near zero in the context of relatively high inflation which makes no sense since capital use always costs someone something. Instead of paying savers for the use of their capital to make loans, savers who had money couldn’t make interest on their savings which has hurt people who want to eventually retire. Meanwhile by undergirding risk in the stock market with the Greenspan Put, some people with large loans bet big in derivatives and made huge amounts of money. But almost none of that money produced wealth in the real world outside of capital growth. Nor did it produce jobs. Malinvestments multiplied and wasted capital. Now the economy looks drunk on capital and with nothing to show for it. Workers in today’s economy can’t get jobs that make sense over the long term. With enormous costs in real estate, in education, in healthcare, in automobiles, in energy and instability in the job market they can’t go to work and make it pay to service their debt or save anything for retirement. The stock market is overvalued and well overdue for a correction so investment in a 401k is unlikely to yield anything. Workers can’t plan for the future and if their job doesn’t make sense for the future, it also doesn’t really make sense for the present. Because everyone gets old someday and just getting by isn’t enough for what real life demands of us.

Printing more money and creating an enormous amount of inflation looks on the surface like it would force people to get-a-job-any-job to pay for all the costly-ever-costlier stuff. But it doesn’t make sense to work more when you can’t get ahead no matter how much you work. Especially in a demanding job with no prospects for making enough in the future to pay off past debt or save for the future. No one looks at homelessness today as anything but a perennial problem, but homelessness reflects the externalization of consequences for risks by capital in a destroyed market that has no sensibility. It has harmed millions of people.

So workers see obstacles left right and center. So do would-be employers. The most useful thing to do to help workers get jobs at this point is to stop bothering them with hiring algorithms, lean strategies, covid requirements, zero interest rates, currency overprinting and an undergirded stock market. Just stop. None of these improvements has helped our economy. If you want to compensate people who might be willing and able to work, if you want to encourage them to start working, stop taxing their incomes. Maybe they will start a small business and that will help rebuild our woebegone working world. If you want to support employment, go back to rewarding people for working. Stop taxing and regulating work so much that no one can get around the obstacles.

Buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries at Amazon.com.

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