According to Tom Keene, host of Bloomberg Surveillance on Bloomberg TV, the best op-ed of 2012 was penned by Dean Baker and AEI’s Kevin Hassett back in May. Titled “The Human Disaster of Unemployment” and published in the New York Times, the op-ed calls attention to the human plight of America’s long-term unemployed and calls on the government to begin treating it as the national emergency that it is.
The article reminds us that unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment, has massive human costs in addition to economic ones. These include increased risk of suicide, divorce, and succumbing to disease. Therefore, solving our unemployment crisis is of paramount moral and social importance, not just economic.
Of course, Baker and Hassett do more than just point out problems; they also offer solutions:
Policy makers must come together and recognize that this is an emergency, and fashion a comprehensive re-employment policy that addresses the specific needs of the long-term unemployed. A policy package that as a whole should appeal to the left and the right should spend money to help expand public and private training programs with proven track records; expand entrepreneurial opportunities by increasing access to small-business financing; reduce government hurdles to the formation of new businesses; and explore subsidies for private employers who hire the long-term unemployed. Those who hire for government jobs must do their share, too: managers who are filling open positions should be given explicit incentives to reconnect these lost workers.
Every month of delay is a month in which our unemployed friends and neighbors drift further away.
Be sure to read the full op-ed. In the video below, Hassett and Baker discuss the article with Bloomberg Surveillance host Tom Keene.