"You've got to think until your brain hurts." -- Elon Musk
We have a three-pronged problem here in the United States, and it's up to you and me to solve it.
On the right, corporate leaders are perceived as greedy takers raking in astronomical salaries and bonuses, often not backed by productivity in their firms. People perceive them as funneling significant funds offshore in order to avoid paying taxes; though, individually, they pay on what they report. At least 18 major corporations skirt their social responsibility by avoiding paying some $92 billion, and wildly profitable businesses such as the oil companies and NFL continue to be boosted by less fortunate taxpayers to the tune of $224b between 2008 and 2010. Big business' social conscience seems largely limited to protecting their treasure. When corporate leaders don't contribute to the solution, they lose respect (leverage), both at home and in the global marketplace.
Whatever power position Big Business still enjoys is untenable, however, because, in today's global society such 'crouching tigers' as China (whose economy can go either way, but who chews on enormous notes from the U.S.) and India, poised to wake up and begin roaring, are ready to pounce and eat us up. America likes to call itself 'exceptional' -- no longer No. 1 -- but the exceptionalism it has achieved would not generate jealousy in even the most insignificant country.
With China and India breathing down our necks, America, though still a center of innovation and business opportunity, has come to be viewed abroad as a banana republic for a number of reasons, including our widening socioeconomic gap, low-ranking education standing and corruption between non-functioning Government and Big Business. How does that help our corporate leaders when they attempt to engage in the global marketplace? When they attempt to attract foreign investment to American business?
On the left, are the millions of unemployed with little or no spending power. Our infrastructure continues to crumble, banks still aren't lending, our education system sits low on the rating scale, health care costs are still obscenely high, and our economy shows little improvement. Those are just some of the issues.
In the center, House Republicans have decided they will just leech off the taxpayers for another year, as they have scheduled only 97 days of work between Jan. 1 and Nov. 6 (election day), 112 total for the year -- unproductively collecting pay and benefits all the while. Apparently, they have no intentions of seriously resolving such issues as the debt ceiling, immigration, the budget, unemployment and other outstanding issues. When Congress does act, it is primarily to protect interests of Big Business, (NRA, Koch Brothers) rather than to further the best interests of America. An obstructionist Congress, the GOP has closed out 2013 with the record-breaking least-productive, most closed session in history.
With these problems, though, we can turn this around. It won't be easy; we must be creative and think outside the box, as Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, David and Goliath) and Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla Motors, SpaceX, Co-Founder of PayPal) suggest. According to Musk, "People need to set their mind toward creativity... the first thing is to try... creativity must be rooted in reality; physics is the law; learn technology, engineering, physics.'"
Depending on Congress to solve our social ills has not worked, and probably will not work in the foreseeable future; so, what do we do, keep wringing our hands, hoping and blaming each other? Not at all!
It's time for our private sector to recognize the huge benefits to them in providing programs aimed at returning significant numbers of the 10.9 million unemployed, who are willing and able, to the spending and taxation pool. In forming these programs, they will live by GOP principles of fiscal responsibility, reduced government and paying their own way -- by filling some of the 3 million open jobs in America.
New employment will include paying reasonable wages for 40(+) hours of work and benefits, of course; all thereby affording the resulting growing workforce increased spending ability and taxation. When people have more money, they spend more; corporate leaders can anticipate the bottom line.
Looking outside the usual liberal 'let Government solve my problems' versus conservatives' 'get the funding up front/protect my profits' mentality, corporate leaders in a variety of fields could pool their expertise and form two-part technology training programs. Germans have done so for Europeans, and we can too.
According to Lauren Csorny, writing for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Computers and information technology (IT) touch nearly every aspect of modern life. Information technology can help with such diverse tasks as driving motor vehicles and diagnosing diseases. IT enables seamless integration and communication between businesses anywhere in the world... "
Because technology job openings span the entire labor market, corporations from virtually every field can gain traction by joining with technology experts to provide needed training in coding and other technology skills in order to qualify a significant number of unemployed to fill some of the available jobs.
Part 2: Successfully competing for jobs in today's global market requires new skills. Gaining employment by building relationships through social media, has replaced the old practice of sending cold resumes, then sitting back and waiting for replies which, all too often, never come.
In today's global job-seeking competition hundreds, even thousands, of applicants may offer the same skill sets and degree of experience, but employers will select only a handful of them for hiring. How do they decide which candidates they feel will best contribute to their teams? Through the relationships applicants have built. As pre- and current candidates build meaningful relationships with prospective employers and other influential individuals via social media, they begin to stand out as having the value system, personality, communication skills and other qualifications to fit into the particular corporate culture to which they aspire.
'Old school' jobseekers tend to shun social media; perhaps because they feel overwhelmed about jumping in and/or they see joining the masses as a stigma. Corporate leaders can provide for effective coaching in order to dispel candidates' objections and teach them how to use social media effectively.
LinkedIn is the leading social media vehicle for building business relationships. Learning to skillfully negotiate this medium can put candidates on the fast track, even as they are learning new skills. JD Gershbein of Owlish Communications, and a leading strategist on LinkedIn, provides simple, down-to-earth guidance in learning to negotiate social media. For meetings and instructional forums, Google+ Hangouts are the modern way, and Tim McDonald, Director of Community for The Huffington Post, provides an excellent Introduction to Google+ Hangouts. For an overall digital marketing plan, Dave Delaney is a good resource.
By reaching down to offer a helping hand up, corporate leaders could possibly derive tax incentives; at the very least, they could begin to justify the tax breaks their firms are already enjoying, and they could begin to change their image of greedy takers, as they build increased respect, loyalty and sales for their products and services. This solution would be a winning one for all involved, and would help to restore America's image of exceptionalism in a good way.