September 15, 2011

Anti-unemployed bill will solve nothing

I don't know whether President Barack Obama's push, in the American Jobs Act, to ban want-ad discrimination against the long-term unemployed, is more naivete, cluelessness about how the online job applications process works today (this from Preznit Technology Pusher) or political posturing.

I totally agree that this is a real problem. But, Obama's solution is a non-solution, as far as real-world practicality.

Large and medium companies don't have an HR person look at our Word document resumes any more. Instead, we upload it on their browser, where add-on software like Taleo or ICIMS parses it out. So, short of outright lying (hey, list volunteer work as a job, and be creative about your "volunteerism," if needed), a bill prohibiting want ads from saying "no unemployed need apply" will help nothing. Long-term unemployed will still get filtered out by medium and large companies, and even smaller ones.

Oh, sure, you could write a very detailed and specific bill, targeting not just ads, but human and software filtrations, too. But, how are you going to enforce that one? Really. And, if you do think of a way to enforce it, what penalties are you going to attach to it?

Frankly, I'd rather have it as it is now, and see the ugly "honesty"of Social Darwinism in the light of day than be hidden away.

Now, what can be done that has more potency, and is more realistic at the same time?

1. Those tax credits for hiring unemployed? Why not target them to hiring of long-term unemployed?
2. Many of the longer-term unemployed are older. Start bringing federal age discrimination investigations, which might discourage companies from firing these folks in the first place. Add in the threat of the Department of Justice automatically filing an amicus brief on any age discrimination suit brought by an older worker recently shown the door.

3. If the longer-term unemployed really have lost skills, then give on-the-job training tax credits to companies that hire them, too.

Nos. 1 and 3 have more of a carrot than the Obama bill offers. No.2 swings a bigger stick.
As for the options above, I suspect Preznit Kumbaya is naive/clueless more than posturing on his original bill. But, what the hell. Contact the White House and tell him the truth. Offer alternatives, whether mine or yours.

At the same time, there's the economic wingnuts at Reason, who mock a "long-term unemployed activist" by asking if "unemployee" is going to become a new job title. While you're at it, you can email Tim Cavanaugh about that stupidity. (And, it's stuff like this that keeps me from going to Reason as a civil liberties source.)

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