Layoffs an odd cure for joblessness

OK, so here’s the solution for an economy that’s leaving too many people jobless. Or least here’s the one the American people just voted for

We’re going to lay off more people.

I’m oversimplifying, but that’s basically the plan.

The new Republican majority in Congress, new Republican governors in states such as Pennsylvania, tell us their solution to a sluggish economy and high unemployment is to cut government spending.

 Of course, that’s also their preferred solution to every problem up to and including the heartbreak of psoriasis.

 And what does cutting government spending really mean?

 It means laying off people, flesh and blood people, who work for government, whether at the federal, state, county or local levels. Not just annoying bureaucrats with their feet up on their desks, but also people who do real work to protect our safety, teach our children, enforce our laws.

 Just look to Camden where a Democratic mayor, coping with Gov. Christie’s cost-cutting, among other woes, is talking about laying off a quarter of the city’s workforce, including cops and firefighters.

 You can tell yourself all the fairy tales you want about shrinking government by attacking that unholy trinity – waste, fraud and abuse. Sure, there’s too much of all three in some governments. But not nearly enough to finance the current cost- and tax-cutting rhetoric..

 No, cutting government really means laying off real people, with families and mortgages.  It means removing their buying power from an economy whose biggest problem is low demand.

 Here’s a fact: the scorned Obama stimulus program worked. Not spectacularly, but significantly. This year, shortly after we peeked into the abyss of global economic collapse, private sector jobs increased by 857,000.

So why does unemployment hold steady at about 9 percent? Partly because population growth offsets private sector job gains.  But partly because of huge drops in public sector employment. State and federal employment has dropped by 357,000 since Obama took office. That doesn’t county local, ripple-effect layoffs such as Camden’s.

 In other words, joblessness is high in large part because we’re so intent on cutting government jobs.

 Now, to address high joblessness and low demand, the new Lords of Congress promise more layoffs.

 It would be funny, if it weren’t so damaging.

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