Getting the Kids to Work
The Providence Journal’s John Kostrzewa and the public officials on whom he reports miss some critical dynamics in their discussion of the problem of teen unemployment in Rhode Island:
More and more teenagers in Rhode Island can’t find work because the recession has shrunk the number of job openings. The jobs that are available and that young people used to fill are being taken by seniors forced back into the labor market or out-of-work adults who can’t find anything else.
Not to mention the factors of illegal immigrants and other unskilled labor attracted by our progressive welfare and tax policies. A more fundamental thought derives from this description of the problem:
When young people don’t get jobs and are idle, they don’t learn valuable behavioral traits and skills such as showing up on time, respect for supervisors, teamwork and the value of their labor.
Providence Mayor David Cicilline, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, and others see the solution as more government programs, including education and training, but that’s suspiciously helpful to bureaucrats and public-sector labor unions. The reality is that, as its policies across the board prove, Rhode Island is not designed for successful, upwardly mobile lives. Our state punishes success and rewards conformity and going along to get along. That dynamic leads to policies that restrict job growth and — in whom it attracts and what it encourages — floods out the opportunity to follow a clear course of opportunity from menial work to a successful career.
That’s more of a cultural issue than an economic one, but if there’s any hope to change it, it will come with the economic decision to encourage business activity — really encourage it, not by making forms easier to fill out, but my making business easier to conduct.