Saturday, May 23, 2009
Federal Bailout Funds to Save Jobs?
How about Federal funds to CREATE jobs?
Once upon a time, before the Industrial Revolution, many families ran their own businesses. The concept of a small number of companies employing vast numbers of people is relatively new in human history.
The little people like you and me are being asked to contribute our taxes to bail out large companies whose employees earn a lot more than we do.
Here's a new concept: take one or two of those billions and put it where it would do more good -- in direct aid to the disabled. No strings attached assistance to start their own businesses. About 25 years ago, I tried applying for an SBA loan to upgrade my typing business to a word processing business, and was refused because I didn't own a home I could put up as collateral, and couldn't put up half the money myself. I have no idea if the SBA rules have changed since then, but let's face it, most long-term disabled people have no assets left, so any policy that requires them to have collateral and cash isn't going to help them.
I happened to be fortunate that when I lost my job due to my symptoms I had tens of thousands of unused credit limit. I could afford to buy my own computer and advertising. But I know a lot of disabled people who can't even afford to eat 3 meals a day; they certainly can't afford the extra expense of setting up a business.
No one would hire me when I revealed there were days I was going to have to work at home due to my symptoms. There was no reason I couldn't work when able, but the courts say that "work when able" is not an accommodation I can demand under ADA, so I couldn't sue anyone to force them to give me a job. If I wanted to work, I was going to have to employ myself.
And the same is true of many other disabled people -- they want to work, but no one will hire them.
Instead of bailing out multi-millionaires who've proven themselves poor stewards of the businesses entrusted to them, who give themselves huge bonuses for running their businesses into the ground, how about using that money to help poor people who are driven to succeed? If you can earn a mere $900 a month (less than full-time minimum wage), you're off disability benefits -- that alone should please the conservatives who want people to stand on their own two feet so the government can do away with all social programs.
But trying to get more money poured into self-employment programs for the poor and disabled is not as easy as getting billions to reward influential people who have friends in Congress. There are always excuses: we can't give people computers and internet service because they're just going to spend the day playing games and looking at porn. Or the classic one that I was asked when I proposed to a potential employer that I be allowed to work at home "how do we know you're working as many hours as we're paying you for?" Obviously, if it becomes apparent that the recipient is not doing anything to produce income, you take back the computer.
As the saying goes, it's hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you're barefoot. Let's stop focusing bailout attempts on the well-heeled and do something to help those who have no shoes. Overall, it'll cost less and by taking people off SSDI and getting them back to work, produce a bigger benefit to the economy.