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Rand Paul: unemployed should accept lower wage jobs: "tough love" (ignores immigration, 5-1 job seeker ratio)

Rand Paul recently said (link, [1]) something that on its face appears a bit reasonable:

"In Europe, they give about a year of unemployment. We're up to two years now in America... As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that’s less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again... Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen."

Needless to say, trained idiots like Digby take umbrage at his remarks [2]. However, as a general rule taking a lesser or part-time job - even moving to another state if necessary - is part of the American tradition and isn't something that should be discouraged.

However, one problem with Paul's remark is that there just aren't that many jobs. Per the chart at [3], the ratio of job seekers is job openings was 5 to 1 in April. It was 6.2 in November of last year, but both ratios are very high compared with the ratio over the past decade; the last peak was in September 2003 at 2.8 to 1. Given that, Paul seems to be implying that the problem is with the unemployed and not with the actual facts: there aren't enough jobs. One thing that would seem to be needed would be some way to create jobs, such as encouraging entrepreneurship. He does mention something like that on his site, in his own loony libertarian way [4]. However, perhaps he should harp on it instead of what amounts to a light version of blaming the victims.

And, another problem with Paul's remark is that he's ignoring the impact of massive and illegal immigration. With a ratio of 5 to 1, we're still allowing hundreds of thousands of foreign citizens to come here legally, hundreds of thousands more than any stimulus jobs that were "saved or created". Paul isn't harping on that (if he's mentioned it at all), despite how powerful pointing that out could be. He isn't pointing out that giving legal work permits to up to 200,000 Haitians increased the labor supply especially for low-wage workers, despite the fact that pointing that out could be powerful especially combined with an explanation of how that only helped the Democratic leadership and not either country. If we blocked all immigration it wouldn't solve the unemployment problem, but reducing it to a certain extent and reducing illegal immigration as much as possible would free up jobs for Americans without impeding much job creation. While Paul isn't as bad as other libertarians when it comes to immigration, he's not using the issue to his advantage and in such a way that would help American workers.

But, what did you expect? If he could think straight he wouldn't be a libertarian in the first place.

[1] The quote is from a Friday appearance on the Sue Wylie WVLK-AM 590 program.

[2] digbysblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/

[3] epi.org/publications/entry/

[4] randpaul2010.com/2009/11/rands-jobs-plan

Rand Paul supports getting politicians as far away from micro-managing the economy as possible to allow free market creativity and competition to create jobs without wasteful political interference.

Sat, 06/19/2010 - 11:45 · Importance: 4