In the final, absurd reduction of “government job creation” theory, the embattled socialist president of France, Francois Hollande (who became “embattled” with remarkable speed) has announced a massive $3 billion program to “create jobs for 150,000 young people without skills,” as the UK Independent puts it. The plan gives “councils or voluntary organizations” an incentive to create “jobs for the future” by paying 75 per cent of wages for unskilled youths hired to participate in “environmental, social, cultural, or sports projects.”
Hollande is so serious about this initiative – conceived in the face of crisis-level unemployment, plunging popularity ratings, and vigorous capital flight to escape his proposed tax increases – that he wants parliament to come back into session two weeks early, so they can vote on it. The Independent ascribes much of Hollande’s plunging popularity to a sense of indecisiveness surrounding his new administration, so clearly it was time to do something dramatic and foolish.
“In the new scheme,” the Independent explains, “the jobs will be reserved for ‘youngsters in great difficulties’ – those who have emerged from the school system without a diploma and live in troubled suburbs or rural areas with high youth unemployment. Critics say that they will be paid the minimum wage to undertake mostly pointless work without training. [Employment Minister Michel] Sapin insists that the jobs will be useful and give the youngsters self-respect and an introduction to the disciplines of the work-place.”
France tried something like this once before, in the late Nineties. It didn’t work very well, but with enough time, and socialist desperation, every bad old idea becomes new again.
And this concept is not entirely unfamiliar to the United States. Many Big Government “job creation” proposals boil down to price controls on labor, which give way to increasingly naked pleas for the government to almost completely subsidize the hiring of select classes of the unemployed. In recent times, the most remarkably absurd expression of this idea came from Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), who encouraged President Obama to hire all of America’s unemployed persons for the salary of $40,000 per year, as part of a $600 billion “stimulus” plan.
Jackson doesn’t seem to have given much thought to where our massively indebted government would come up with another $600 billion to fritter away on hiring people for no reason, or what would happen when this lovely “stimulus” money ran out after a year. Hollande isn’t thinking about those things, either. Socialists never do. They see the supply of other peoples’ money as infinite, and understand nothing about the healthy creation of jobs through the voluntary pursuit of opportunity by free citizens. The dole never creates jobs, even when “Creating Jobs For the Future!” is scribbled all over the latest welfare bill in red ink.