So where can Obama go? Here is a speech he might give:“My fellow Americans, I come to you with a problem. We have something which needs our attention, more than any other challenge we face.
“The last recession ended four years ago. Unemployment is now 7.3 percent. That is an improvement over the past few years, but is still much higher than it has been for most of our lifetimes. More and more Americans have been leaving the labor force, choosing different lifestyles, and giving up on the possibility of supporting themselves and their families. The American dream of work and prosperity, which has been admired worldwide as well as by our citizens, is in serious danger. The reason is that the jobs crisis is permanent, and will not end with better economic times. That is hard to swallow, and so is what I am telling you, right now – we do not know the best way to deal with it.“I could explain further about why, without major changes, we will never see five percent unemployment again, but it is time for me to talk less and lead more. So I will take less than ten minutes to explain where we are with this 250-year historical shift, some steps we might take, and how we can go forward.
“On the jobs crisis, conservatives are wrong. Joblessness is not confined to those less worthy or successful anymore. Companies cannot tolerate a general lack of money being spent. Markets will not work unless people can buy as well as sell. Liberals are also wrong. The problem is not inequality, it is people not having an opportunity to support themselves by working. And businesses are not at fault – squeezing and shackling them are not answers either. Some things both sides have suggested, such as reducing immigration, removing destructive regulations, and subsidizing housing, may be good, but are not nearly enough.“So what could solve the jobs crisis? We Americans need to consider and debate at least four possibilities. The first is a guaranteed income. Under this plan, each United States citizen would receive a stipend to cover basic levels of food and shelter, along with guaranteed medical care. Second is shorter working hours. Our productivity has improved so much over the past decades that we could make 8 AM to 1 PM our new normal business hours, reduce salaries, and hire more people. Third, we can start charging for information contributed online. When our personal data, ideas, and creative work help companies amass fortunes, we could be paid for that. Fourth, our corporate income tax structure needs to change to reflect how many American jobs are being created and maintained. A restaurant chain hiring hundreds of thousands of United States workers should, other things being equal, pay much less than a high-tech company with a few hundred.
“I propose looking at these, and other, possibilities in two ways. First, I am starting a commission, with experts conservative, liberal, and in between, to assess the technical and financial side of these ideas, and report on if and how they would work in real life. Second, I am calling upon city mayors, county commissions, authors, newspaper writers, bloggers, radio and TV hosts, and communicators of all kinds to hold discussions, online, through other media, and in person, to brainstorm ideas and collect the views of any Americans who want to contribute them. Citizens, you will be heard!“The jobs crisis is a national problem which calls for free discussion and multilateral cooperation. I have no axe to grind about what solution, or combination of solutions, would be best. That is for us to determine together. The only firm position I have about the jobs crisis is that it needs to be solved in some way. If it is not, conservatives will be damaged by companies crashing from a sheer lack of customers, and liberals will be disgusted by the poverty caused by too few work opportunities – and those are far from the worst things that could happen. Americans, we have made it through world wars, depressions, wrenching social changes, and intense hostility elsewhere in the world – we can negotiate this great transition as well.
“Thank you, and may God and our efforts bless the United States of America.”