An Open Letter to Congress and President Obama on Behalf of the Long Term Unemployed

What are they going to do?

What are they going to do?


This may sound like a rant for good reason.  But it is something I feel passionate about.  I know so many people who have been unemployed for a long time.  They have put their lives and spending on hold.  They want to get up, dressed and go to work.  So please forgive the rant.

Dear Congressmen/women and President Obama,

The Republicans are doing this, the Democrats are doing that.  But what are they doing for the Long Term Unemployed?  Whether they agree on funding benefits is one thing.  But what they should be doing is finding ways to get these people back to work because that is what they would rather do.

Instead of blaming each other for doing nothing, something wrong or what have you, start working together to fill the empty factory buildings that are being turned into housing.  Yes, they are very cute and so pretty with the original wooden beams and floors exposed.  How about we turn them into factories where products are made. 

Factories that turn out quality goods that require many people to accomplish are needed.  So that people who put widget A into socket B can do just that.  They are good at and need to be able to do it.  So that accountants, administrative assistants, janitors, shippers/receivers and all the others have a place to go in the morning.

Instead of turning on their home computers, they turn on the computers at work and spend all day accomplishing something more than looking at Monster and CareerBuilder, or spending hours on the phone waiting to talk to a live person at the Department of Unemployment.

Then they would be able to go out to their favorite restaurants on the weekends.  Get so stressed out they that need a vacation and book a flight to somewhere fun.  Of course working in an office will require the latest styles waiting for them at the stores in the mall.  They will be able to replace their old car for a new one. 

Getting people back to work makes sense not only for the long term unemployed, but for many more.  The restaurants, airlines, retail and car industry will benefit.  People want to buy, but they only buy when they have a steady stream of disposal income.  People don’t buy when they are living off their life savings or when they know they only have so many weeks of unemployment. 

Democrats and Republicans get over it and put these people to work.  They want and need to work.  Help them out instead your yourselves.  


A concerned U.S. citizen


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19 Comments to "An Open Letter to Congress and President Obama on Behalf of the Long Term Unemployed"

  1. February 17, 2014 - 6:38 pm | Permalink
    I wrote an article in late 2009 presenting my plan to end long-term unemployment and all underemployment, and later posted a petition based on it. I mailed President Obama a printout of my article; his response was a form letter with no Subject line, one irrelevant statement, and a mass-produced signature.

  2. Jim Riddell's Gravatar Jim Riddell
    February 14, 2014 - 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Great letter and interesting thoughts.

    Having trouble with the idea of a “post-industrial” economy, I appreciate your presentation as well as the comments. However, I’m concerned about the prospect of returning to 19th century manufacturing infrastructure and 20th century manufacturing models – even though they promise potential to restore large numbers of “factory wage” middle class jobs.

    I believe that manufacturers were complaining about the cost of renovating aging American manufacturing infrastructure by 1973 – two decades before implementation of NAFTA (1/1/’94). Outsourcing and off-shore operations were already becoming firmly established. The Bhopal disaster had already occurred in India (12/3/’84), and Nike had a firmly established model of off-shore manufacturing, while the trend towards moving established manufacturing operations off-shore was pretty well established.

    Despite a long history of rhetoric about labor, taxation and regulatory conditions, these factors weren’t directly associated with dialogue over manufacturing infrastructure. The argument appeared to be that once existing factories and industrial sites were liquidated, and new off-shore facilities no longer represented the state of the art, manufacturing would naturally return to the U.S.

    Various factors, including challenges with managing off-shore operations and costs of global distribution networks have led to talk of moving manufacturing back to North America. At the same time, industrial interests have made major headway in taking apart regulatory safeguards, breaking down the power of organized labor, and restructuring tax codes, as they’ve moved toward local (state-level) regulation – where it’s easier to pit players (states) against each other to achieve competitive advantages.

    Restoring major manufacturing operations seems to be a partial short-term solution. I believe that we may need to start looking at reformulated versions of “arts and crafts” pre-industrial models that improve the quality and durability of manufactured goods and create new levels of industrial competitiveness.

    I like your point that productivity is the key. Thanks for developing and publishing your letter.


    • February 15, 2014 - 8:22 pm | Permalink

      I will agree on some things, and disagree on others. And some things I could comment on, but it’d be pure opinion with no factual basis – so I won’t.

      But I would like to comment on two things.

      First, your comment about organized labor. For a year, while taking time off from college, I worked in a UAW facility in Florida (a RTW state). Though I didn’t have to join, I did. And they did squat for me when I was laid off. Not only that, but I WORKED. One time I was the only person there over a holiday, since I didn’t have vacation. The department productivity (vs. the time standard) was 150%. I got told, quietly, by several people to slack off.

      Later, as an engineer, I worked at Ford, in two other UAW plants. Many people were good people who wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, but… one time a security guard WATCHED as two men sabotaged equipment, to force weekend OT. Another time, a line operator let parts go through his station for the better part of an hour. He just didn’t feel like doing his job, you see. And another time, a friend of mine was threatened with physical violence – with witnesses. Molding machines, whose cycle times were optimized after hours of careful work, would be set back to the old settings – so the packers wouldn’t have to work as fast. Each time, there were precisely ZERO consequences.

      At that first plant we had developed what we thought was a “game changer” new process. Since our labor rate was high, we had to focus on technology to keep the plant competitive. The UAW fought us TOOTH AND NAIL during our launch, because our process was more labor efficient for the same number of products per hour.

      The idea that if we couldn’t be competitive cost-wise, and use technology to overcome the higher UAW labor costs, the jobs would dry up didn’t occur to them. Now, that plant is teetering on being closed after having been sold several times. Instead of $20 bucks an hour + bennies, how’s ZERO per hour sound?

      As I said elsewhere, what’s truly needed is simple: showing the cost of offshoring in a total-cost-and-risk picture.

      I am a Mechanical Engineer with experience in both Design and Manufacturing. I firmly believe that a product and process, designed concurrently for function, cost, and production, CAN be competitive. But that takes a lot of up-front work; the perception is that it’s far easier to just ship production offshore.

      How do we change that perception? In answering that, we will save our economy.

  3. Jeanne Hanks's Gravatar Jeanne Hanks
    February 13, 2014 - 10:31 am | Permalink

    And yet so many of these same members of Congress will be re-elected. As citizens, we all need to exercise our rights and vote every election day, and as consumers we all need to understand what we are supporting when we purchase a $10 pair of jeans made overseas. I believe Congress would make major changes overnight if they knew the majority of their constituency would actually be voting on their performance … or lack of performance.

    • February 15, 2014 - 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Too many seats, on both sides of the aisle, are “safe” seats with no risk to the incumbent.

      Here’s a proposal: Use a computer algorithm to redraw districts. Two criteria:

      1. The same amount of people (give or take a hundred or two) in each district.
      2. No gerrymandering; the ratio of district boundary to district area should be minimized.

      And if that doesn’t increase changeover and accountability after a few election cycles, term limits.

  4. Mason Draffen's Gravatar Mason Draffen
    February 11, 2014 - 9:02 pm | Permalink

    The biggest problem is that ever since Clinton signed NAFTA we have seen that jobs have left the Untied States to offshore places like India. The Bush administration did not help matters any and only encouraged jobs going to third world countries. The current administration is no better. What needs to be done is to bring these jobs back to the Untied States and put Americans back to work.

    • ron dore's Gravatar ron dore
      February 12, 2014 - 9:38 am | Permalink

      You are absolutely correct. I have felt the pain in my type of work (information technology). Republicans and Democrats are both to blame. The problem is that they do not see it and they just want to look good so they try to make the other group look bad and worry about re-election. The Senate and Congress have no idea what they are doing and president Obama does not get it and the next president will be the same. To get people in the United States back to work is to stop the jobs going oversees. Allowing people to work here from other countries and not having citizenship should be stopped. Easier said than done I know. The United states is falling apart. We have so many great people in our own country. The outsiders must be sent back to their homes. We should only worry about the UNITED STATES. I am a US citizen since I was born and busted my tail to get a great job in this country and being unemployed is the worst feeling. I am sure there are so many other people like myself that can work in society and help make a difference. When will our government grow up and stop the BS and make the United States great again.

      • February 13, 2014 - 9:51 am | Permalink

        People who move here for the legitimate reason of immigrating should be welcomed. My wife is such a person.

        We need to have a serious look at what, currently, incentivizes companies to move jobs overseas. I know that the “apparent” labor rate comparison is the most obvious thing. Environmental regulations are another. The raw regulatory environment is a third; when government is constantly trying to tweak, incentivize, prod, and “fix” the economy, companies don’t know how to plan. Which means they hunker down and don’t invest here, and conclude it’s safer to do things overseas. (E.g., The ACPPA and the seemingly never-ending waivers, delays, etc., done at the stroke of a pen by President Obama; how can companies plan when changes to what they see in the law can be done by one person making decrees? That’s not a tenable position from which a business can plan.)

        So how do we not only take a long look at these things, plus quality, logistics, political instability, etc., but do so in a way that those who make the decisions will listen? And I don’t mean just politicians, I mean the leaders of industry.

        And a note about infrastructure: There is no question that infrastructure spending can be necessary, but it is not a driver of economic growth. Witness Japan, for example: a decade of infrastructure spending resulted in… nothing.

  5. Dick Joseph's Gravatar Dick Joseph
    February 11, 2014 - 2:46 pm | Permalink

    The answer is not to build more factories. The answer is to create consumers. The job creators in the US are not the big businesses or the millionaires and billionaires. The only people who create jobs are the consumers. How do you create consumers? You/we invest in infrastructure. We spend 2.4% of GDP on infrastructure – compared to 20(+)% on defense!! Infrastructure spending is 30% less than in 1980…..and our infrastructure is crumbling. So what will spending on infrastructure do? It creates jobs…real ones….private sector jobs. Those people become consumers…they demand more and more. Companies will then create factories and hire workers, who will, in turn become consumers who buy more things and require more building and more hiring….it is called priming the pump of the economic engine. It is simple..It works…if only we and Congress have the willpower.

  6. February 11, 2014 - 2:24 pm | Permalink

    The way to get more jobs is to increase the amount of investment and business start-ups. How to do that? Increase the reward in the financial risk/reward ratio.

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