Economy, Regs, & Taxes

Painting the Picture of Male Unemployment

The New York Times summed up what conservatives have said for years.

Dec. 15, 2014

The New York Times summed up what conservatives have said for years – government welfare disincentivizes work, the social fabric of our nation is strongest when fathers head the household, and flooding the labor market with low-skilled and low-educated individuals through illegal immigration is bad for Americans currently out of work.

Seriously. Yes, they did.

Painted on the debate canvas is a recognizable face – the unemployed male during his prime working years. The Times’ piece declared, “Working, in America, is in decline. The share of prime-age men – those 25 to 54 years old – who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s, to 16 percent.” Perhaps the most important sentence in the report, however, is this: “Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working.”

Welcome to Barack Obama’s America.

The palette of metaphorical colors used by the Left to cast this grim, but real, image ranged from the gray of “foreign” competition and “technological advances,” to the pale pink of a massive list of government programs that include safety-net welfare and job training, to the cyanotic blue of men avoiding marriage and fatherhood.

The pronouncement that “foreign competition” harms the workforce – in this case, unemployed males, 85% of whom were without a college degree – is spot on. Hence, the absurdity of allowing Obama’s amnesty to stand. His action will permit five million illegal immigrants to compete in the already flooded low-skilled labor market. The ones hurt most are young blacks, but blacks are such dependable Democrat constituents that Obama knows he can get away with it.

As for that 85% of those surveyed who don’t hold a four-year degree, the availability of job training and educational attainment is vast. In 2011, the Government Accountability Office estimated that nine federal agencies housed 47 separate job training and educational programs.

The obvious question has to be asked: Which is easier, to receive 99 weeks (just five weeks short of two years) of unemployment checks, or to enroll in an education program to obtain a certificate in training and finish a four-year degree?

An individual must stay competitive in a tightening labor market. Refining and advancing education and skills is no longer a K-12 proposition. Frankly, individuals can’t even expect a four-year degree to keep them competitive absent some special circumstance or highly specialized field.

There are ample options to obtain the training and education necessary to grow into technologically driven occupations. Parents, guidance counselors, existing employers and the government must be consistent in message – be a lifetime learner to stay employed. But that’s not the easy road; unemployment and food stamps are.

The New York Times observed other societal changes, such as that “the decline of marriage … means fewer men provide for children.” The traditional family places worth on the roles of a father as spiritual leader, model in his work ethic and character, and his responsibility to meet the needs of his family. But with so-called “progressive” change in the definition of marriage, the American male is … liberated.

Finally, there’s an element the NYT didn’t mention: shame.

Reach back into records and appreciate that in the 1903 annual report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor an able-bodied adult who was not working was documented as “Idle.” Further, this “idleness” was categorized “by causes.” Drunkenness, accident, strike, unable to get work, slack work, and bad weather were among 64 identifiers that captured the reasons for unemployment.

Today, it’s not your fault if you drop out of high school or college; it’s not your fault if you miss the opportunity to get additional education and training offered at work; it’s not your fault you never save a penny, but have the latest electronics available. You see, when you’re a victim of the big-bad system, there is no shame.

The Left – and some of the “moderate middle” – offers a life portrait of just under two years of unemployment checks, an opportunity to join the almost 50 million on food stamps, with hope that the government will increase the minimum wage on occasion to assist in one’s embrace as a member of the underclass. Mediocrity is the message for the masses.

By contrast, the Right paints a picture of innovation and competition with individuals who pursue skills training and education, who embrace technology and competition. The painting frequently includes a spouse and family to strengthen and support, and a male head-of-household who has the ability to dream and imagine a better day for his family. Yet, that portrait is only completed by the individual, not by the nanny state. It’s a picture of Liberty.

Now, you pick your palette: pale pastels or bold colors.

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