Full Employment? Only if We Want It Enough!

05/07/2015 05:37 am ET | Updated May 07, 2016

When faced with unemployment, everyone is discouraged, we have become so used to being 'sold' on ideas that no one would dare to implement, ignoring the fact that it would be possible to resolve the problem with practical actions and in a socially equitable way, if we really wanted to.

The most radical solution would be to cut unemployment benefits massively (limited to six months' net salary, and two times the minimum wage -- SMIC), as some countries have done, to make dismissal easier with the suppression of the open-ended contract in favor of a single staff employment contract, to exclude from the official unemployment statistics, and from any allocation, any person working at least one hour per week and to pay young people who have no training less than the minimum wage (SMIC). These means, which helped reduce unemployment massively in Great Britain, Germany, or the United States, fortunately, are not proposed by any political party in France. Therefore, let us not take as an example the employment policy of these countries: No one in France is willing to follow this path. Similarly, unlike the inflamed speeches of the extreme right, no one will exclude all foreigners from the labor market, since we would end up immediately with millions of foreigners forbidden to work and yet in a regular situation.

As for the reception of asylum seekers, it is subject to international conventions, that France already applies with great restraint.

In fact, in France, the German and American models are not applicable. Our country prefers well-paid unemployed over low-paid workers. It is this principle that we must discuss: do we want to maintain it explicitly or question it?

Without using extreme measures mentioned above, it would be possible to reduce significantly and very quickly mass unemployment, without new expenditure. For this purpose, the following five reforms should belong closely together:

1. Unqualified unemployed persons hired by a company should be paid at 80% of the minimum wage; the rest of the salary, which should be at least equivalent to the minimum wage, is paid for out of lifelong training budgets, since this job offer is also a job training.

2. Unemployed persons should receive unemployment benefit for one year only. This benefit is limited to 3 times the minimum wage, and only if the job seeker follows a program preparing him for a profession, funded also from lifelong training budgets that are largely wasted. After one year, the benefit is maintained for an additional six months only if the unemployed person is unable to take a job, of any kind, or start a business because of physical or intellectual disability.

3. Unemployed persons should receive training and be provided with an incentive to start a business. If his project is viable, funding should be proposed.

4. Compensation granted in cases of dismissal by the employer or by the Conseil de Prud'hommes should be limited to six months salary, and 3 times the monthly minimum wage and deducted euro for euro from unemployment benefits then paid.

5. Company or person resorting to illegal work should face dissuasive fines.
If these measures were applied consistently and effectively in a national consensus for employment, unemployment would be reversed very quickly, and that without a single euro more to be invested by the taxpayers.

However, none of this will be done; because there are many players who have stakes in this: company owners do not want lifelong training resources for the benefit of their employees and the financing of their organizations to be affected; trade unions believe that they defend the rights of wage earners through the high cost of dismissal; political parties do not think they could propose the reduction of any advantage a potential voter might have acquired. This will not take place without revolution, more or less violent.

So let us not pretend that in France the reduction of unemployment is a priority: the country prefers to live its slow decline and let all its young people drift into unemployment, despair, exile, and countless forms of extremism.