American joblessness has reached a point where bipartisan action is necessary, and it should take the form of massive investment in infrastructure projects, says Mort Zuckerman, the real-estate investor, publisher, and editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report.
However, the work should be done via privatization, allowing firms to bid on contracts to renovate, for instance, highways and bridges and then charge the users tolls, Zuckerman writes in a Financial Times Op-Ed.
The real unemployment and unemployment rate is likely 17 percent, or 25 million Americans, Zuckerman says, despite the trillions in stimulus from the Federal Reserve and government spending.
“Long-term trends are depressing job growth. There is more outsourcing abroad, more automation, more conversion of full-time jobs to temps and contracts, and a stagnant median wage,” Zuckerman writes.
“Information technologies are advancing dramatically and increasingly being employed to eliminate jobs of all types, especially those that are fundamentally routine and repetitive in nature.”
If the United States is to come out of its job funk, it will take growth of greater than 3.3 percent, yet the consensus seems to be that 2 percent is the more likely track, he notes.
“There are no short-term solutions. The best longer-term solution, widely understood to reflect a national need, is reinvestment in America’s infrastructure, which would not only create hundreds of thousands of jobs but would also safeguard private sector growth,” Zuckerman writes.
“Millions of men and women are willing and eager to work but their skills and energies are being wasted,” he writes. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Britain is, arguably, two steps ahead of the United States in terms of its fiscal crisis. There, privatization is already on the table as the ultimate “answer” to the nation’s deep financial troubles.
Among the items being considered for mass privatization by Prime Minister David Cameron: Most public schools, including at the university level; the National Health Service; prisons; and some parts of the welfare system for the poor, according to the London daily The Independent.
Nevertheless, a plan to sell off big chunks of state-owned land, perhaps the least painless immediate solution, has hit tough going in parliament on public opposition to the idea.
"I am sorry, we got this one wrong. But we have listened to peoples' concerns," Farming and Environment Minister Caroline Spelman said as the government swiftly dropped a plan to liquidate 85 percent of the 258,000 hectares of forested land it holds, roughly 18 percent of all of England’s woodlands, Reuters reports.
An initial plan to sell 15 percent is still in play, the news service said.
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