INCENTIVES

Posted in Quick Hits on December 13th, 2011 by Ed

Front-running presidential candidate Newt Gingrich knows a good idea when he sees one, particularly when it originates in his adopted home state of Georgia:

Speaking to about 200 employees at Insight Technology, a defense contractor in New Hampshire, the former U.S. House Speaker called for funds workers pay into unemployment insurance to be diverted to training programs.

"I am willing to continue unemployment compensation, but I would attach to it a training requirement," the Georgia Republican explained. "So if you sign up for unemployment compensation, you would also sign up for a business to get trained to learn a new skill. Because by definition, the reason you're signing up for unemployment compensation is you're not finding a job at your current skill level."

"Now if you took all the money we spent in the last five years for unemployment compensation, if that had been a worker training fund, you'd have a dramatically better-trained work force. We have thousands of jobs available that people can't fill. You have people over here that want a job, but they don't have the skill. You have jobs over here that requires a skill that's not currently available," he added.

"I don't want to pay people 99 weeks to do nothing."

The former House Speaker was most like referring to a program called "Georgia Works" where companies are provided unemployed trainees for free. The state provides a $240 stipend — cut back from $600 last fall — to the trainee each week for up to eight weeks.

So let's review the mechanics of Georgia Works. Businesses can take unemployed people, get eight weeks of work out of them train them on the public dime, and then decide whether to hire them at the conclusion of eight weeks. From the perspective of the unemployed, this program offers…well, eight weeks of work at a sub-minimum wage pay rate. Oh, plus "training."

If this sounds like a publicly-funded temp agency to anyone, that isn't quite the case. Temp labor can be employed for extended periods of time whereas Georgia Works expires in about two months. Sure, it could be used as a long term source of free labor if an employer decided to keep bringing people in for eight weeks of – *cough* – training before letting them go and replacing them with another Georgia Works recruit. But that would never happen. Unless of course there was a large, permanent population of the desperate and unemployed.

Yeah, this is the plutocrat approved post-New Deal vision of the social safety net. I mean, it stands to reason that the most effective way to get businesses to hire the unemployed is to set up a state-subsidized program that gives businesses free labor. Ideas like this make me thankful that we still have a robust two party system.

Democratic President Barack Obama has also praised the program.

"There is a smart program in Georgia," Obama said during an August bus tour. "You're essentially earning a salary and getting your foot in the door into that company."

Jesus titty-fucking christ…