Local Goverment Should FACILITATE THE UNDERGROUND ECONOMY AS A BACKUP ECONOMIC SYSTEM For Times When Cashflow Is Stagnating
When people are out of regular jobs, they somehow find off-the-books jobs, trades, jobs for homeowners, that don't get reported, and no taxes get paid on. Why not have the barter economy facilitated by the local agencies, help temporary firewood cutters find customers, help fellows who want to work to feed their families find houses to paint, fences to fix, cars to wax, honest, decent work, that anyone can find, on short notice, with quick payment, on day of service?
Once, when I was in a difficult economic situation, tbere was a church in Laguna Beach, California, that had a temporary jobs now agency in the basement of one of their buildings.
If you showed up early in the morning, they would send you out on a job, for that day. Every city and town should have such a "jobs now" agency, either formally or informally.
I was then looking for work in my town, and the unemployment office was not much help for me, when I needed it. In larger cities, there are temporary employment agencies, that will help a person arrange interviews. I should sue the agency for incompetence, but the courts are too over-worked already.
Why not ask every unemployment office to set up a "jobs now" temporary work desk, and more actively facilitate this short-term, temporary type of job, to ease the transition between jobs, for people laid off from their regular jobs, for women suddenly widowed or divorced, going thru changes, etc?
Why not make it easier for working mothers to find someone trustworthy to babysit their sick child, or to help the caregiver of the elderly find some-one to take over for a few days or a week's vacation?
Everyone could have their highest ability, fulltime career skills, and their in-between fallback job skills, to get them thru the hard times.
Instead of being able to find people on welfare who are willing to work cheap "off-the-books", to paint your house, and you risk being fined for failing to pay the Social Security taxes, why not have this "jobs now" temporary work desk, handle the Social Security taxes, and become a sort of longshoreman's union for anyone who seeks help?
Why should the average homeowner have to learn employer paperwork stuff, because the people who write the laws are failing to fill this in-between regular jobs temporary need of the workers?
Why shouldn't the unemployment agency, the welfare agency, job-training programs, the local community college, any agency that lists jobs and skills, just use a common data format, and share their data bases, so that a person who signs up at any agency, is also listed in all the agencies?
And, if goverment budgets leave one of these offices shorthanded, or if their computer software doesn't handle every type of work, why not open up the data base, by using a common data format, and allow any organization that wants to help, for instance, a church with a big basement, to have access to floppy copies of the data base?
All you really need is a large table, an office chair, a telephone, and 4"x6" index cards, to set up a "jobs now" office, plus a couple of dozen folding chairs. You don't need a computer.
If you add a computer, this information from the 4"x6" index cards becomes more shareable, with the other agencies. In fact, someone could have a job just taking copies of the skills offered and job orders, and typing these into a computer, and making printouts, for the agencies, formal and informal, who don't use a computer, like the multiple listing service for real estate.
You don't even need a software program. You can just use a common data format and type stuff in with any ASCII text editor, or word processor, outputting the data in ASCII characters, the easily-understood text medium.
Government does not always have to be the "payor". It could more efficiently act as "union hall", or "jobs broker", and instead of handing someone a check, send them to a real job. For people who have no transportation, rides could be provided. Everyone feels more self-esteem if they are "making it on their own", earning their own living, even if it is work that they would not prefer.
If government started really facilitating what is happening "off-the-books", this would also bring in more taxes, and alleviate much uncertainty and anxiety, which would reduce the tension in families, that inevitably leads to divorces and spousal and child abuse, and uncollectible child support payments?
Why is this not obvious to our government? How many people have to live in the streets, or commit crimes and end up in our jails, before the government finally "gets it"? How many children have to be raised up in poverty, and malnourishment, after their parents divorce, before the government finally "gets it"?
Why can't the government workers understand that there will never be enough fulltime, permanent jobs for all the people who want one?
Why does it take so much massive suffering, economic dislocation, people losing their houses, their health insurance, etc., before the government finally "gets it"?
Why indeed, when it would be so easy to just help people who need help, when they need it?
Every state should rethink its unemployment compensation policies, its welfare policies, its job-training policies, its homeless policies, its policies on asking ordinary homeowners to report income for Social Security purposes, its policies concerning the "underground" economy, and unleash the local agencies to cooperate and really help their human clients. Think how you could enable all these seasonal and in-between workers to be covered by health insurance and workman's compensation, during these short jobs?
This might be enough to reknit our social fabric, if the goverment agencies would help people to find constructive things to do, thru a temporary "jobs now" desk. Volunteer work could just as well be facilitated thru the same structure and format. Many people want to get involved in helping, but there is no easy way to get linked up with the people who need help.
What would it do to our society if more people did work out of love of service and with a spirit of giving, instead of trying to withhold helping, in order to keep our price up?
Many barter clubs tried this idea, and when dollars stopped flowing, there were still "time dollars", units of accounting not necessarily based in real dollars.
I challenge you to wake up and get real.
FACILITATE THE UNDERGROUND ECONOMY AS A BACKUP ECONOMIC SYSTEM.
If you need any inspiration, or any leadership in making these services availablc to the people who are willing to work, I volunteer.
Shari Soza, Yreka CA 96097
Originally Written 03-07-93 , and mailed to all our local jobs agencies.
P. S. For inspiration on facilitating barter, try the Aug/Sept 1993 issue of Mother Earth News magazine, "The Ultimate Barter", p32-39,66. Also check "Ithaca Money", and "local currency" on the Webcrawler or simlar search engines.
You can find this file on my InterNet home page, http://www.snowcrest.net/soza/jobs/nugrund.htm
I am again making it available, due to the need for a SafetyNet Resource Model to help us get thru the changes to come.