It’s About Jenner

Over the weekend, The New York Times published a heartbreaking story of a middle-class American losing her administrative job, sliding into long-term unemployment and eventually declaring bankruptcy.

The story is about Americans like Jenner Barrington-Ward, who are too smart, experienced and educated for entry- and service-level jobs, but who can’t get hired in job they’re qualified for because there are so many younger, cheaper candidates. Companies are afraid to hire experienced people at lower salaries because they tend to jump ship once a better offer comes along.

Long-term unemployment is an artificial problem. In a functioning economy, there’s enough labor demand to allow people to enter and exit the market as they choose. We are not enjoying this state of affairs because we have not yet entered a real economic recovery.

Real economic recovery requires accurate market signals regarding demand for goods and services and real savings with which to invest in growth industries. Neither of these is possible under a system of fiat currency and aggressive quantitative easing, whose purpose is to distort market signals regarding demand and which punishes savers by eroding the value of their savings.

Too often when free-marketers talk about helping people like Jenner Barrington-Ward, we do it using words like fiat currency, quantitative easing, and market signals. There are two types of people who know what these words mean. There are people who are staunchly opposed to what they would call “austerity” and believe in the power of monetary inflation to boost aggregate demand and employment levels. And there are the people who already agree with us.

Everyone else just wants Barrington-Ward to find a job. Everyone else knows someone who should have a job and doesn’t, and just wants someone to do something about it. Preferably, someone who seems like they care.

When we talk about how free markets bring about prosperity and innovation, we too often sound like we want to make life even better for the people who are already at the top. I know that’s not true; we care deeply about Jenner.

But how can anyone tell when we talk about high corporate taxes being a struggle for business owners? Instead, let’s show that America’s corporate tax rate, currently among the highest in the world, inhibits companies’ ability to hire.

Instead of talking about how much we hate lazy welfare recipients, let’s demonstrate how corporate welfare blunts innovation, further slowing the economic growth needed for full employment.

The New York Times delivered its solution via a Berkeley Professor calling for the government to provide jobs and employment tax credits. No free-market opinions were presented. The article wrapped the call to action in a heartbreaking story to which many of us can relate. Until we can present our ideas similarly, they will continue to be ignored.

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