"Everybody talks about the weather," said Charles Dudley Warner, "but nobody does anything about it." These days everybody complains about unemployment, but nobody does anything about it.
To be sure, some people offer suggestions. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) proposes the Bring Jobs Back to America Act, which would organize a new strategy to rebuild manufacturing, possibly including new tax breaks for companies that return jobs to the U.S.
The President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, chaired by GE's Jeffrey Immelt, suggests training workers through partnerships at community colleges, cutting red tape to speed creation of jobs, boosting travel and tourism by easing the visa process, offering more help to small business owners and putting jobless construction workers to work on energy projects.
As has been emphasized by the Manufacturing Institute, our schools are not preparing people for jobs in the real world. One of the biggest challenges to job creation is the skills deficit. To compound that problem, workers are losing mobility -- at least partly because of the housing collapse. If your mortgage is under water -- and almost a fourth of them are -- you cannot pack up and move to a job somewhere else. In the 1950s, one in five Americans moved every year; now it's one in 10.
But the unemployment challenge is so great -- 16 million people -- we must be more creative and willing to try anything that is reasonable, including the following:
- Offer visas to would-be immigrants who can provide assurance they can and will create new jobs. Many creative people around the world would love to bring their talents here, but getting in has become almost impossible.
- Invite U.S. companies to repatriate foreign earnings without being taxed provided they use it for U.S.-based production and job creation.
- Create a national infrastructure bank and fund it with budget reform that would create a capital budget.
- Enact the pending Free Trade Agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. They mean billions more in exports -- and many thousands of new jobs.
- Use a portion of the funds now being spent on unemployment compensation to subsidize private sector job creation. After six months of unemployment compensation, transform it into a voucher system for private sector firms to create jobs.
- Expand and make permanent the R&D tax credit. The one great strength we have in international competition is our creativeness. Let's build on our strength.
I bet you have your own ideas for job creation. Share them with me and I'll pass them along.