• Sona Chaturvedi

The Employment Myth

Updated: Jul 5


Work hard, play hard. It’s the American way. If you play your cards right, you can become independently wealthy or make enough to put your kids through college, save for retirement and travel. Perhaps this was true for some during the post-World War II era, when FDR’s New Deal policies to expand and protect the middle class flourished. For some, it was never true and always out of reach. We peddle that dangerous lie constantly, as well as the other false claim that immigrants are taking our jobs. How does that work logically? It doesn’t. And it has reached a fever pitch in America. Every morning, we wake up to the news that there are hundreds of jobs not being filled, while employers are crying into their coffee cups and wondering where to find all the workers. They may be looking, but they aren’t telling you the whole story and neither is most of the mainstream press. Heidi Shierholz, the director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, pointed out in a Twitter thread that when there is an actual labor shortage, business owners raise wages or lower job qualifications. If they refuse, it doesn’t mean workers won’t work. It means they aren’t willing to work for low pay. Empirical data backs this up. Economist Julia I. Lane, a professor at New York University, has been tracking records on unemployment claimants to assess the effect of the stimulus. “If people were staying home because the stimulus paid them more money than their work did, then you would expect people who made more from stimulus than salary to stay away from work longer,” she said. “But that wasn’t the case.” Lane and her team found no correlation between those who remained out of work and those whose stimulus payments came close to their salaries. There are a number of questions that lead to inconsistent reporting on the subject. Are they taking into account the number of people who can’t return to work due to health, childcare issues, or even death due to Covid? Not to mention the number of people who simply retired? As expected, the GOP and their Fox “news” sycophants have doubled down on their typical “welfare queens” talking points and every other lie they have used to avoid raising the minimum wage. Regardless of their rhetoric, going back to “normal” is not an option any longer. The key to prosperity is re-education and new opportunities, like green jobs, as proposed in the Green New Deal. Employers should stop trying to short-change their employees, offer flexible workplace solutions, including childcare, and offer everyone good health insurance. They must be forced to pay decent wages and provide a safe environment. Jobs are still going overseas for cheaper labor, and the big industries practice niche hiring in the states. Not everyone can program algorithms or understand high tech. There are also careers that simply disappeared to cut costs for employers. For example, office jobs like reception work have become automated, with the exception of healthcare. A large percentage of employers still don’t realize workers are not commodities with little value. They believe we should feel grateful to have health insurance and a paycheck that barely helps us make ends meet. Republicans, till their dying breath, will claim anyone in America could be a billionaire if they work hard enough. It’s all a lie fed to us so everyone stays within their class structure. Americans have been sold on the notion that the U.S. is exceptional and dynamic, a place where everyone has a chance. It’s a myth for a large percentage of the population. It’s worth finally asking the question. What do employees want? Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer last March pointed out that there should be no more nickel-and-diming of the nation’s poor; it's been a disgrace for decades. Will policymakers start to finally see the people who work two or three jobs cleaning hospital beds or driving an Uber or slinging burgers and who make our economy go, even as they struggle just to cover the rent? Imagine a world where the new “normal” is actually better. The need to address this is dire. If we don’t, we are no different from a failed state. That’s exactly how historians will remember us. A sham of a nation that ate itself over greed and corruption. Just like every other empire that went down in flames.