The government’s primary responsibility is to protect the lives, happiness, and stability of its citizenry. I believe direct job creation programs should become a cornerstone in welfare programs to support unemployed people, in the short run, and serve as the launching pad to reeducate those people in the long run.
Governments can either neglect their citizenry or invest in them. In a case where laissez-faire economics prevail the workforce is left to its own initiative to find employment. I believe this method is inefficient; often people act irrationally, due to lack of education and information, as they pursue employment. Often they can waste much time and resources and still be unable to obtain a job. I believe when governments invest in their citizenry the populace is better off. My reasoning is that unemployed workers with financial support are better situated to find new work, become educated about potential opportunities, and pursue new careers through learning new techniques and skill sets. Without any income these unemployed workers would be forced to instead starve, turn towards illegal means, or fall into costly debt and permanently injure their financial potential. With financial support they can concentrate on finding a stable income and forgo significant problems. This second option makes sense to me, it seems to head off spiraling unemployment where laissez-faire instead permits chaos.
The issue then becomes how to distribute welfare to those who need it. Blank checks and unmarked bills seem like a short sighted way to provide aid. People are inherently irrational; while they might be making decisions, with their government aid, that makes them happy they also may be perpetuating their unemployment. I believe that governments, as the employers of last resort, should be able to step in and give any willing worker employment through direct job creation programs. It is the job of the government to protect its citizenry, giving them an income is perhaps one of the most concrete ways to accomplish basic objective. It would not matter if these programs were as simple as planting trees, cleaning graffiti, or being crosswalk guards as long as it transmitted an income to support those who were once unemployed. The added benefits to the community services are an ancillary positive that helps neighborhoods and gives once unemployed workers a sense of optimism and a bit of dignity when they pick up their paychecks.
It is my personal opinion that direct job creation programs do not go far enough for helping the unemployed citizenry. Direct job creation does employee workers and stabilize their lifestyles, but it is vulnerable to costly overuse. Argentina’s Jefes de Hogar program found a solution in its worker training programs. I believe that community jobs can be essential in alleviate unemployment in the short run; in the long run they become needlessly redundant and potentially wasteful. I propose that workers with unneeded skill sets should be reeducated so they can pursue a new career, hopefully even one that pays better. With reeducation programs once unemployed workers should be steered towards higher skilled jobs that need more applicants. Simultaneously, this action fills hiring holes in the economy while hopefully upgrading the lives of once unemployed workers. Any loss to the taxpayers, spent in lifting a once unemployed worker to the sectors where new employees are most needed, will be paid for by the higher tax returns of those individuals who increased their human capital and earning potential.
I believe that the government should be an employer of last resort, in the short term. The steady support of welfare should be able to be counted upon to aid unemployed citizens. Direct job creation gives short term aid to those who need it most and it hedges against unemployed people wasting time and resources. It can even provide the means to reeducate once unemployed individuals so that their lives are actually better because they got fired.