Thursday, June 07, 2012

Can’t find a job?

THE ECONOMY IS tanking again.

There are some people who say this doesn’t matter much. Some clever traders tell us that they can earn as much during a down economy as they can during an up one, so they don’t care about the state of the economy. But this is only true insofar as we haven’t hit bottom yet, for as they throw people out into the streets, and downsize companies, they eventually make things worse for themselves too. They may end up owning an entire city, but it will be a city in ruins, and they may eventually find it hard to find even a few loyal subjects who will do their bidding.

Others, of the more idealistic and revolutionary mindset think that worse is better, for the Revolution will never come unless the people are desperate. These, too, are shocking in their disregard for others. Would-be revolutionaries are also clever, but they too may have a bitter fate when things hit bottom, and the people realize that it was the revolutionaries themselves who turned a minor crisis into a disaster.

They are heartless and cruel, but that is common in modern thinking and its theories that deny love, such as utilitarianism and Marxism. So let us keep in mind that some people, even very educated, wealthy, or powerful people, due ultimately to pride, greed, hatred, or envy, want things to get worse.

But the problem is simple: people naturally need food, clothing, shelter, and comforts, for themselves and for those whom they love, and our current economy, for many people, is making this exceptionally difficult. Being unable to find a job, many are becoming dependents, or turning to a life of crime, or getting into debt, or worse. People turn to government, but government can’t provide services if people don’t have jobs and pay taxes. Lack of jobs means that everyone suffers, except for the few mentioned above, who subscribe to evil philosophies.

A preponderance of job seeking these days, I’ve heard, is done electronically, which leads to some problems.
  • Employers say it is difficult to find qualified people for positions, and this is harming the economy.
  • This is despite the fact that employers are inundated with a huge number of resumes for open positions, from people who are desperate for work.
  • Employers have downsized their Human Resources departments, or have outsourced them to other companies, in order to reduce costs.
  • Employers, for efficiency, use software filters to wade through the resumes, and these filters are based on criteria they choose ahead of time. The filters may not be devised by knowledgeable people.
  • Employers' job filters are very explicit — only those resumes that have certain keywords will pass the filter. Wanting to avoid job training costs, employers will often demand specific job skills and experience. Learning on the job, except for unpaid internships, is very rare these days.
  • Job hunters, knowing about the employers’ filters, pepper their resumes with keywords hoping to pass the filters. Knowing that they can learn quickly, and have skills that are transferrable, job hunters will include skills that they may only be somewhat familiar with, knowing that the employer probably won’t be able to notice the difference.
  • Employers, knowing that job hunters pepper their resumes with keywords, set the threshold on their filters very high, allowing only a small percentage of resumes to pass.
  • The few resumes that do go past the filters are either, by miracle, perfect job candidates, or more likely, are dishonest, claiming experience they did not have.
  • Employers therefore include honesty detectors on their software filters, or make applicants take an online honesty test during the application process, which attempts to detect lying.
  • The honesty filters are set with a very low tolerance for lying, rejecting too many ordinary, but generally honest people, while still passing very good liars. Validity testing shows that a large percentage of those tested as being liars are not — between 40% to over 90%, while up to perhaps half or more of the liars pass the test as being honest. The tests are considered statistically valid because they typically detect honest people as being honest, but clearly they are problematic.
  • Honesty test results are sometimes adjusted to prevent outcome bias, so some identifiable groups are basically given a free pass, and other groups are judged more harshly, leading, inevitably, to an even higher percentage of dishonest people passing the filter.
  • Success in the job market these days, according to some, is knowing how to game the job system. Note that this does not necessarily have much to do with actually being able to do the job. The system is encouraging people to be dishonest.
This article tells of a company that had 25,000 applicants for a standard engineering position — and yet the Human Resources department said none were qualified. That is hardly possible. Something is broken, and the people in charge are not acting rationally.

Unfortunately, business has no interest in spending more money on good hiring practices, and governments led by social democratic parties have a vested interest in expanding their pool of dependents, as is found in the unemployed. But these tendencies make things worse overall.

Until now, it appears that governments have attempted to buoy the world economy by ‘quantitative easing,’ which is a new way of saying ‘printing money.’ This is a basic method used in Keynesian economics to avoid the severe deflation in prices that used to normally happen after the collapse of the periodic business cycle.  But if the money only circulates among those who already have it, and if the money just goes after purchasing the goods that already exist, then this extra money will simply turn into inflated prices rather than giving unemployed people new jobs. We see this inflation particularly with food and fuel prices, which unfortunately are basic necessities for both the employed and unemployed. There will be a huge temptation by governments to fund social welfare programs by merely printing money — which is currently not possible in Europe because of the discipline of the Euro common currency — but this would only mean even more money chasing the same small pool of goods, causing severe inflation, and will not significantly increase production. More people will have money, but the money will be worthless, for there will be very little to purchase: this was the case in planned economies in the Communist era; everyone had plenty of cash, but had to waste hours every day standing in line to get whatever goods that happened to be available.

The only thing worse than not having a job is to become a slave to a job while being unable to purchase anything with the wages. We must avoid solutions to our economic woes that will put people to work without allowing them to personally prosper.

Human beings are made in the Image and Likeness of God, and so we have a sacred duty to help our fellow man. But modern philosophies reject this notion and instead see us as replaceable cogs in the machine of society, which get us into problems like we are currently experiencing. As society becomes more secularized, the problems get worse. The modern idea is that man can save humanity by putting together scientifically designed systems of government and business, and this Pelagian idea, the idea that man can save himself, is very popular. But the consequence of the heresy of Pelagianism is that our systems severely punish people who don’t live up to expectations, as we see with our high level of unemployment and our bulging prisons. We see this in a brutal fashion in class conflict, where entire groups of people are persecuted or even wiped out because they aren’t good enough. Mercy is not a modern virtue.

I would suggest that Catholics start acting like Catholics, in both business and government. Seeing people as individuals, and not as data encoded on a resume or as members of some class, would be a good start.


  1. I agree that mercy is not a modern virtue. Pay a credit card bill late and you will get first hand knowledge of that.

    So clearly the solution is that Catholics should become business owners...but how does one do that when the deck is stacked towards big business?

    I suppose one way is to support local businesses, but their costs are often higher, putting them slightly out of reach.

  2. Mark are you suggesting that we should all go out and buy more "explitive" at Walmart to stimulate the economy. Is more consumerism your solution? Do you think we should teach the rest of the world to fill its homes full of useless stuff to keep those nasty "socialists" away?

  3. I once worked for a firm owned by an older Catholic family. They were very kind to employees and were well liked. The company did well for years. Then they retired and sold out their interest. The company then had younger persons take over, with (from my perspective) few if any morals.

    They laid off older people and actually laughed when they announced department closures, eventually loosing all the built up wisdom, and have since lost that whole division.

    It is unfortunate that those making decisions do not consider morals and economic justice at all.

    Br. James Patrick

  4. food for thought. i especially like the last three lines. well said.