This is a propos of nothing in particular, but just in general, I really, really hope that by 2016 unemployment is sufficiently low that we don’t have to have a whole election where everybody promises jobs. It’s all lies, frankly. The right’s theory is basically that, by plying rich folks with huge tax cuts and other giveaways (and of course the other goodies, deregulation and the rest), they’ll respond by creating jobs. This is not merely ridiculous but absurd, as anyone who has ever worked in the private sector knows, businesses spend most of their time trying to cut jobs. Not even attacking it so much as saying this is the way it is: if you decide that government has no real role to play in protecting peoples’ jobs in general (and we don’t), then you have to accept that businesses will do all they can to cut them. It’s the bargain we’ve chosen to make as a society, plain and simple. Giving them more money has little to do with anything, it’s an answer to some other question altogether. On the other hand, Democrats have in the past had a very successful way of creating jobs through direct federal employment of the unemployed, but for many political reasons they are extremely reluctant to do this now. Even after 2008 with huge majorities in Congress and wide latitude to make economic policy, this was not really considered. And at this point, even the basic principle of stimulus is politically impossible at the federal level. So the answer has to follow the question indirectly, by growing the economy, or symbolically, with stuff like incentives to hire veterans. But the growth option has been stymied by the austerity regime we got in the Budget Control Act (i.e. the debt ceiling), as well as the Obama Administration’s puzzling unwillingness to name people to the Federal Reserve Board. I don’t even know if the Administration has cast the answer as being basically about growth. So even though this is still a big issue, neither party really has much of an answer here. So I can only hope that it improves despite our best efforts, so we can talk about something else.

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