2012 Elections, jobs and the economy
It is easy to forget that not only is there a six-alarm jobs crisis going on in this country, but also that it won't be magically solved after the election.
The American Dream is in danger. Over 28 million people are unemployed or underemployed. Six million Americans have been unemployed for six months or more. Among young people, the unemployment rate is 20 percent plus. We know that many of the destructive consequences of being out of work -- both to people's finances and to their health and well-being -- can be permanent. So every day that we fail to address the crisis, more and more Americans are not only suffering but also having their futures jeopardized. That is why we can not wait for Washington to save the day. That is not going to happen any time soon. But that doesn't mean that nothing can be done.
The urgency of this crisis requires all hands on deck. Businesses, communities and individuals all have roles to play -- but especially businesses. Yes, every business needs to pay attention to the bottom line -- you can't create jobs if you go out of business -- but maintaining a healthy bottom line and making a difference actually go hand in hand.
It is, of course, easy to focus on what is not going right in the country. But there is a real danger that by only seeing what is not working, we risk losing the chance to expand the benefits of what is working to millions of Americans. It is natural in a crisis to define things in negative ways -- in terms of deficits and shortages and scarcity. But the flipside of that are the surpluses we have of creativity, energy, empathy, ingenuity, and under-utilized resources that can be put to work putting people to work. We can develop our hydrocarbon resources and create millions of jobs over the next five years, while at the same time utilize some of the revenues to continue developing renewable energy and energy/water efficiency and conservation.
"Opportunity: What is Working." By spotlighting all the innovative job creation ideas going on across the country, and helping to bring them the attention they need to scale up and bring relief to more Americans, we hope to change the narrative away from the fatalistic and passive acceptance of joblessness as the "new normal." It is an attempt to act on the belief that "what we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems."
We should promote the recommendations of the best ideas for creating new jobs via small businesses --especially jobs for young people. "We believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of the American population."
Other elements of the initiative should include:
- Securing specific promises from companies, foundations and non-profits for actions to tackle the jobs crisis. For example, investing millions of dollars over the next 5 years to address three drivers of the jobs crisis: the skills mismatch, the geographic mismatch, and the asset gap.
- Hosting jobs panels at both political conventions on "Solutions to the Jobs Crisis." The discussions should be moderated by economists and included participants from across the political spectrum to highlight non-partisan ideas that are already working and come up with more, like a new Bill for urban young people.
In the spirit of the barn-raising impulse embedded in the American DNA, we should be launching a competition called Job Creation and opportunities, an innovative funding challenge to raise money for employment-boosting organizations.
We should provide a platform for entrepreneurs, small business owners, mayors and other local officials, CEOs, thinkers, activists and ordinary citizens across the country to join the discussion, connect, and engage in innovation and job creation.
"We are all part of the flow of history...And we take things out of that flow that other people have created. And that is why our lives are so great...you have got to put something back into the flow of history that is going to help your community, help other people, so that 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now, even if it is just a small pebble you put in, people will say, this person did not just have a passion, he cared about making something that other people benefit from."
There are a lot of individuals and businesses out there putting their small pebble into the flow. If enough of us do it, we can end this jobs crisis. And that's the best thing for everybody's bottom line.