CREATIVE CREATION of JOBS
The other evening I happened to run into a cousin of mine as I was cruising through some memes on Face Book. The meme we connected on questioned how the current congress is so willing to follow Christian beliefs by banning abortion and even birth control, but wants to eliminate help with healthcare for pregnant women or pediatric care for their children. The question; where is the help for the poor and needy, as the Christian bible promotes.
That is not what this article is about. But that topic sparked a good conversation and we found ourselves looking at a pretty interesting blend of left and right thinking.
Obviously, we have some social problems in the United States, and both liberals and conservatives recognize them. We have too many people on unemployment, on welfare, and receiving other services because they can’t find work, or work that pays enough to live on. We have recently come through a pretty steep recession, and there are some people who still haven’t been able to reestablish themselves in the work force. But we are too ready to lump everyone in the same category… if you are receiving assistance, you must be lazy, scamming the system, or addicted to something. Somehow, reducing the assistance programs and Medicaid – which is the medical safety net for lower income citizens – will force these people to go out and get jobs? Pretend you are somehow cast into one of these following situations.
Here are just a few reasons people are homeless, and/or can’t get jobs.
- To rent an apartment, you need a reference from your last residence. If your home was foreclosed on, you won’t have a reference. You must pass a credit check. You must also have a job, or provable income.
- To get a job, you must have a residence and a phone. Living in a car, or even a camper is not considered a residence. Neither is crashing on your friends’ couches… and P.O. Boxes won’t cut it. Many jobs also require a decent credit score. (Contrary to current belief, some people don’t have phones, either.)
- Some people have health problems that prevent them from working. These can swing from debilitating diseases like Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, Heart Failure… to things that require money or insurance to fix, such as bad teeth, body odor issues not related to cleanliness, poor eyesight, loss of hearing, back injuries, etc.
- Other problems that hinder finding jobs include transportation (buses don’t run everywhere), child care needs, lack of proper attire, and, of course, experience or education. The restaurant looking for a cook isn’t interested in how good of a mechanic you are. Even having a great resume can be a hindrance if you’re looking beneath your experience level. Call centers won’t hire you if you used to manage a call center, unless they’re looking for a manager, because they assume you will leave as soon as you get something better. (Probably true, but you see the problem.)
So let’s assume you get some assistance, and you solve the above problems for the moment. How do you find a job? Well, on the computer, of course. Oh wait, you don’t have one? Well, there is the library, but you will need an email address to even get a response. If you have a working phone, you can try to use that to check the Boards for help wanted, and you can add that needed email address (some are free). But what if there just aren’t any jobs that you’re qualified to do in your town. In many areas, assistance is available only for a limited time, and you must be looking for work. When the time is up – as little as one year in some places – you just stop getting aid.
This is where my cousin had some good ideas. Jobs could be created for people in these situations, and some of them might even end up helping others in that problem list above. Let me explain. Jobs could be created for people who are desperately seeking work. I’m going to make a list of jobs that almost anyone could do, and that don’t require a lot of training. Many of them are jobs currently being done by volunteers, but if local governments could fund some projects, people could be paid for jobs and climb out of their homelessness and poverty. In the long run, it would be cheaper than welfare and other assistance programs. It could even provide experience for potentially permanent jobs and careers.
- Many retired people own homes but can’t keep up their yards, or can’t afford repairs to keep the home safe and weatherproof. If they could call a community service and ask for yardwork or minor home repairs, someone could be assigned to go do that job and bring back a signed approval when the work was completed – at no cost to the elderly.
- This same service could send hospital helpers out to read to patients, to help feed them, and to work in volunteer positions in the hospital – giving directions, looking up patient rooms, connecting incoming calls, shuttling visitors to and from their cars, and the like – at no cost to the hospital.
- Those who are handy in the trades could be “hired” to build Tiny Homes. Old mobile home parks could be converted into places for the Tiny Homes. (See example pictures below. This is NOT a promotional article. ) People working in the program but not having a home could apply to rent one of these living spaces at a discounted rate, and now they have an address! These homes would remain the property of the city/parish/county, etc., and could possibly be a tax write-off for the agency.
- Child care centers could be set up near business districts and staffed by parents who have their own children to care for, but who could easily help care for others, too, until they finished a GED program, or a college class, or found an opening for their preferred type of work, or retired people needing to add a bit of additional income to their budget could help feed and rock infants, and prepare lunches for the little ones – at no cost to the working parents.
- Even minor street and sidewalk repairs or park maintenance could be done in smaller communities that don’t have regular maintenance contracts.
- Workers could repair school playground equipment, fix or build desks, and keep the school grounds clean.
- Shelters and soup kitchens often utilize volunteers, but this is also work that job-seekers could do to earn enough money to buy a phone, get a used car, and purchase some new shoes and clothing.
Of course, for most of these jobs, a background check would be needed. Tools might have to be provided, and if the job involved a team, transportation might be required. Sometimes, a person might need special insurance, if they had to drive, for instance. In the scheme of things, though, the developmental benefits received by everyone would far outweigh the costs incurred in setting up and running such a community service. Another huge benefit; it has been proven that job-seekers will be hired sooner if they are already working.
Meanwhile, some of the work could count towards new glasses, or a hearing aid, or dental work…things to help people present well for interviews. These needs might have to be provided prior to working, but could be placed on a “balance forward” jobs projection.
Of course, standard assistance programs will continue for those physically unable to work, such as the elderly and the very ill or injured. But some retired people, and even some who are sick or disabled might be able to do some work from home, such as computer data entry, or web design, or maybe just selling things on E-Bay for others in the work program.
Finally, how do we finance and maintain such a program? Well, we could make it a component of the assistance program that everyone who is healthy enough must either be attending classes for a GED, or must work a certain amount of hours per week unless going on verifiable job interviews. Instead of “collecting” welfare checks, they would receive their check for working – not to be lower than the normal welfare check after taxes. (Pay could go higher for additional hours, or supervisory work, but no lower.) In other words, the budgeted monies for welfare would be used as incentive. This work could be put on a resume, and would be eligible for a tax return for their reported income. Besides gaining income and experience, they gain pride in their work and a sense of worth that they will never attain by getting a welfare check.
Does this solve every problem? Of course not. What is does it provide a starting point for helping people learn to help themselves. For instance, if someone dropped out of school, getting a GED is going to be a minimal requirement, and should be part of this program. Also, there would have to be a minimum amount of hours worked per week… perhaps 30? Minimum wage would not apply, as this would be a temporary program designed to motivate welfare-dependent families to get back on track. This is not designed to be a full-time permanent job, but rather a way to get off assistance programs and develop skills that might lead to a new way of thinking, and even a new vocation. Do you think your local city council or mayor might be interested in something like this? What about your county supervisors?
Let’s hear your thoughts!
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