Sorry, you’re too stupid for employment
Here in this suburb of Cleveland, supervisors at Ben Venue Laboratories, a contract drug maker for pharmaceutical companies, have reviewed 3,600 job applications this year and found only 47 people to hire at $13 to $15 an hour, or about $31,000 a year.
As Atrios points out, it never occurs to the good people at Ben Venue Labs that they’re not paying enough to attract skilled workers, or that maybe they should provide on-site training to attract new talent.
It’s become a commonplace line of attack to hear right-wing loons like Rand Paul and Sharron Angle place the onus of unemployment on the unemployed, and of course this has been the territory of Conservatism for years: it’s your fault you’re unemployed. Intellectual giants like Rush Limbaugh constantly say things like unemployment benefits “do nothing but incentivize people not to find work.”
The danger in this kind of talk is that these attacks help to stigmatize the unemployed. Call them worthless leaches long enough, and that mentality bleeds past the parameters of Loonyville, and enters the workforce. Employers grow resentful that workers aren’t arriving to the office already trained and ready to go.
The wealthy universities observe these employer demands, and tailor curriculum to match the pace of industry, but those who can’t buy access to the highest echelons of education are left out in the cold. Where once they could make up ground with on-site training, now they’re told they’re too stupid and under-trained for employment, thanks so much for the interest, best of luck to you in the future, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Of course, the private sector didn’t always work this way. There used to be this thing called cooperative education, which combined classroom-based education with practical work experience. Basically, co-ops provided academic credit for structured job experience, so young people could smoothly make the school-to-work transition. Huge corporations like GM used this model, which helped them attract new talent because human beings don’t usually exit the womb understanding how to construct automobiles.
I’ve been writing a lot about this demonization of the poor and unemployed, including how some employers now conduct credit score checks during the hiring process, and Senator Orrin Hatch proposed an amendment that would demand mandatory drug tests for welfare and unemployment beneficiaries. Congress recently joined in on the class-bashing when they nixed unemployment benefits for over 1 million laid-off workers.
And of course, some employers don’t even consider the resumes of unemployed people. Yes, you read that correctly. In order to find employment, that means you already must possess a job, and are looking to upgrade, or something. But if you’ve been let go from a prior occupation, you’re shit out of luck.
When I posted a link to the above story, I was contacted on Twitter by a rather proud right-wing employer, who mimicked the sentiment that he doesn’t even consider the resumes of unemployed people. If everyone adopts this attitude, soon we’ll be pining for the days when unemployment was “only 10 percent.”