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Feeling good about being unemployed

Way back in about 1987, I was working as a projects coordinator for a male-dominated branch of a huge corporation. About twice a year the company would fly us down to Los Angeles for two days of meetings. Normally these were grave, serious sessions full of graphs and flowcharts and vocabulary words like “parameter” and “synergy.” But one year, in a move straight out of a Dilbert cartoon, we were required to sit through a motivational seminar on corporate leadership and team building.

So there I was, sitting in a room with a bunch of middle-aged men in business suits while a peppy 30-something newly hired advertising director lectured us on how “Working Together WORKS!” There were posters, lapel pins and other cutesy reminders that we were expected to take back to our office and install on the walls and on our clothing.

I was fairly new to the corporate world at that time, dutifully wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase and trying to impress people with my business acumen; yet even at the youthful age of 25 I knew this was hokum nonsense. My colleagues listened politely; then we all returned home, discarded the props and got back to work.

I’ve been out of the corporate world for a few decades now (we work at home), so I wasn’t aware of whether or not this kind of peppy feel-good-ism had continued.

Evidently it has. It seems the federal program Job Corps “will tap into a proposed $1.7 billion budget not simply to provide career-development services to at-risk men and women but to raise awareness of the ‘inherent goodness’ found in each human being.”

This is Your Tax Dollars At Work, to the tune of $1.7 billion. That’s “billion.” With a “B.”

And what do we, the taxpayer, get for our $1.7 billion? We get a bunch of feel-good slogans about how “I Am Somebody,” a series of workshops put on at Job Corps-affiliated U.S. Department of Agriculture/Forest Service facilities. The primary goal will be to help students create a more “inclusive” environment, which will allow the students “to be more mindful and more respectful of individuals with diverse background.” Specifically, according to the project’s Statement of Work, “The ‘I Am Somebody’ concept was crafted to ‘encourage students to live with intention, purpose, and wellness by taking care of the mind, the body and spirit through the reduction of stress, support systems, self-love and self-respect. … We want them to know they are relevant, important, and a ‘Beneficial Presence’ on this earth.”

Awwww. Isn’t that sweet? Doesn’t it just make you wanna HUG somebody?

At age 25 I thought this kind of stuff was stoopid. At age 52, I still do. At least the workshop I attended back in 1987 was paid for by the corporation. But this “I Am Somebody” program ($1.7 billion!) is paid for by you and me. And I’m willing to bet that a bunch of middle-aged men in business suits will be “required” to support this as a condition of keeping their jobs. Doubtless they’ll be lectured to by some peppy 30-something government new hire.

And this is supposed to make a difference in unemployment rates?

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Unemployment is unquestionably a grave problem in our country. It can be attributed to a number of factors, including a loss of our manufacturing base, the enormously complicated government-mandated rules and regulations that create massive expenses for businesses and the decline in surplus cash people have for spending on nonessentials.

But let’s not forget the poor work ethic of too many younger people who enter the workforce. I believe this last point is what this government program is attempting to correct. In a grim sort of way, I find it humorously ironic. The government created the problem of uneducated youth by forcing everyone to attend government indoctrination centers laughingly called “public schools” where children are dumbed down and fed entitlement psychology and granted unearned “self esteem” – and then these pathetic specimens of the next generation are thrown into an unforgiving economy with no job skills, no work ethic, an entitlement attitude and phenomenal self-esteem. Then they complain when employers don’t want to hire them. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Which is why I believe shoving feel-good slogans at young people is a stoopid waste of time and money. This does NOT – trust me on this – make someone more employable.

How much better could this $1.7 billion (BILLION!) be spent in sending young people to trade schools? In these places, people could learn critical skills like “Stop texting on the job” or “Show up to work on time” or “Pull your pants up” or “You are not entitled to a CEO’s salary and corner office at age 22.”

The reason these middle-aged men in business suits thought the peppy workshop they attended in 1987 was so stoopid was because they recognized the triumph of style over substance. They had decades of work experience that weeded out the poor workers and promoted the good ones. They knew how the real world worked.

Peppy slogans don’t make a difference in the real world. They make no difference in attitude or job performance. It’s just a bunch of make-work nonsense from people who think putting “Working Together WORKS!” posters on the wall will actually make people work better together.

In other words, this $1.7 billion will do little more than let young people feel GOOD about unemployment. Isn’t that nice?

What is important in matters of youth unemployment is a work ethic and a teachable attitude. Sadly this is not what’s taught to young people anymore.

Folks, we are at the tipping point in America. This absurd program proclaiming “We Are All Somebody” is just one more example of the stupidity of a government trying to pretend it’s relevant. Meanwhile unemployment is arguably 25 percent, money is being created out of thin air, “morality” has been redefined as deviancy and “honorable” now means naïve. None of this sounds “inherently good” to me.

At some point in every dynamic and successful nation, society is capable of supporting flippant nonsense like “diversity” and “multiculturalism” and “gender sensitivity.” But history has shown that when this point is reached, it’s not the beginning of the Age of Aquarius, it’s the beginning of the end.

But wow, we’ll feel great about ourselves when the economy crashes, since We Are All Somebody with Inherent Goodness. And never forget, Working Together WORKS.

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