Back in 2013, I recorded a video about unemployment, stating it was not a crime.
In 2021, the year that certainly will be regarded as the first year of the Era Of The New Normal, I have not changed my position on that opinion. Just because someone cannot find work does not mean they’re lazy. The work they used to do might have been automated out or rendered obsolete due to technological unemployment. They might have been a victim of constructive dismissal, a situation where they had no choice but to quit their job without having another job waiting in the wings. They may have suffered a severe illness, or either a physical or a mental disability that makes it impossible to work as a former able-bodied individual.
There’s always two sides to the story.
There’s also always two sides to any opinion, including my own.
The fact that I do not feel being unemployed is not a crime does not mean the unemployed should remain so in that state. We live in a capitalist society where everything —- including the sin of being forced to pay big bucks for shelter, a basic need —- costs money. There really is no such thing as a free lunch.
Here in Canada, the things we take for granted and assume as free (such as roads, hospitals, shelters, and other services) are actually paid for by the taxes taken off the paycheques of those still working. Nobody loves paying taxes, but we begrudgingly do so anyways because if there were no taxes, the services I’ve mentioned would have to be paid for directly by everyone. This includes the working poor. Those who don’t have any money at all would not be able to access them.
So, while I feel being unemployed is not a crime, remaining unemployed — especially in large numbers — is not a good thing and it would be criminal to allow that situation to continue.
Especially since Canada’s operating deficit went from $40 billion to $400 billion in 2020. To allow the deficit to remain that high by not taking the necessary steps to get Canada’s fiscal house in order is a recipe for national self-destruction.
As with any financial entity powered by fiscal needs, there are two ways to address this:
- cut expenses.
- raise revenues.
Clearly cutting services is not the option. Cuts have already been made in the past, resulting in lengthy wait times to see a medical specialist, our roads, sewage, and electrical systems in a state of disrepair; and the reductions and cancellations of services from social programs designed to help the less fortunate and most vulnerable members of society.
Nor is raising taxes, a form of revenue raising, an acceptable option. More people will refuse to pay their taxes and the underground economy will grow larger while public services suffer funding shortfalls. Disposable income will shrink which in turn will affect the economy. Businesses will simply shutter and either move out of city, out of province, or even out of the country to an economic climate that is less oppressive to the aforementioned fiscal needs.
A third option — often not mentioned except as something impossible to do or that it is not the government’s job to fix — is to treat unemployment as the next pandemic to tackle, a pandemic not composed of RNA and DNA sequences, but of dollars and cents.
Every person capable to work with a useful skillset, no matter how small that skillset is, should be immediately matched through a partnership formed by the government, business, and education to work suited to their abilities. It must become THE priority one goal to have every citizen tax-revenue-positive through employment, not struggling to find a job and thus remaining in a tax-revenue-negative state.
How do we make this possible? While this is something too big for any single individual, including myself, to figure out, I like to offer some suggestions.
Labour demands need to be identified and the qualifications for employment categorized and taught beginning at the junior high level and throughout the post-secondary education system. Co-op training, job mentorship, and entry level employment positions that were once outsourced or eliminated in the name of austerity need to be created in greater numbers.
In addition, most secondary education and career retraining must become more affordable. They must also be pertinent to the skillsets employers are looking for. This means no women’s gender studies, or interpretive music and art studies. Those should go to a private vocational school and not receive one dime of government funding. They are personal pursuits that do not encourage a tax-revenue-positive flow.
Finally, the foundation of ensuring stable employment — affordable housing — must become a reality. Those unable to obtain stable means of shelter will not be able find work or hold down an existing job. It’s not a stretch to see the connection between housing and employment. Whether this is made possible through a Universal Basic Income program or a cap on rent and housing prices is open to discussion, but finding a solution to affordable housing is paramount.
COVID19 will one day disappear, but the economic pandemic that will follow will make what we’ve all gone through feel a Sunday picnic in comparison. Governments must turn their focus on ensuring every citizen is working in some capacity to that tax dollars return to the coiffures, thereby getting the government books back in order.
Thanks for reading!