By way Atrios, I stumble across a list of ways to combat unemployment put together by progressive wonks–and it explains why the so-called left is so politically impotent (I’ve removed the elaborative paragraphs):
1) Offer bonuses for long-term unemployed persons who find work.
2) Offer bolstered work-search help for the long-term unemployed.
3) Expand retraining programs and increase outreach.
4) Expand relocation allowances.
5) Encourage self-employment.
6) Expand work-sharing programs, and include incentives for employers to hire the long-term unemployed.
7) Provide generous tax incentives for employers to hire the long-term unemployed.
You’ll note that none of these things directly create jobs–that is, stimulate demand.
We don’t need some goddamn Rube Goldberg contraption that provides grants, which are awarded to an institution which then retrains people for jobs that don’t exist.
Just pay people to do stuff. First, give money to states so they stop firing workers. Not only does this stall job losses, but these workers will spend money, providing jobs to other people (money has velocity–it doesn’t stay put). Second, government cuts are also killing private contractors, especially at the state and local levels. Consider Marblehead, MA, where the town turned down ballot items that would have provide tens of millions of dollars to private companies. The federal government should help them–over two years ago, I argued that money should be distributed to states and municipalities on a per capita basis. It’s still a good idea. As long as the state and local cuts essentially balance out increased federal spending, we really haven’t had a stimulus.
There’s infrastructure that needs repairing–pay people to fix it. That’s a good way to put people to work.