If the Libertarian Party is going to gain any ground (especially in this next Presidential election where 90% of Republicans approve of what the President is doing) it is necessary that they get people thinking differently about important issues.
One step here is to get voters focused on numbers other than the very few that often get thrown out there. These numbers may be important but they rarely give all the information voters need to make a really informed decision.
Take the magical unemployment rate. This morning the number came out at 4%. While at the same time, there were 213,000 jobs created in the country (that’s the “job creation rate” or “JCR”).
Even though there were more jobs created the number of people considered unemployed actually went up a little (it was previous 3.8%).
Rarely do media outlets (including “business news”) mention why that happens. If there are more jobs then why does the unemployment rate go up?
Of course, most informed voters know that the answer lies in another number, the “work participation rate”. That number stood at 62.9% today. That rise in the unemployment rate was due to people who had previously given up on looking for work moving into the category of people looking for work (and then losing their job in the process).
But it’s that work participation number (which I’m calling the ‘WPR”, even though I’m not sure that’s a thing) Libertarians should be focused on. Because looking at there still being close to 40% of potential workers in the country who have “given up” on finding a job is one major reason people who actually work seem so “stuck”.
Moving forward in a capitalist system (which we still are, despite some political type’s best efforts) requires that the economy grows while being limited in what holds it back. If you have over a third of possible workers being supported by the other (less than) two thirds then there is NO WAY that will not hold it back.
Workers being paid more for the work they do is hampered because of resources poured into supporting the vast number of people who have decided to not work.
As Libertarians, there should be no reason that other people should have to explain why they have “given up” on work. Conservative Republicans might stress that “you should have to work to eat” and emphasize programs encouraging people to work. And Liberal Democrats might stress “you should always get the help you need” and emphasize programs that support people who have decided (for whatever reason they choose) that they can’t work.
Conservatives emphasize the “won’t work” and Liberals emphasize the “can’t work”. And neither is correct to explain all the vast number of factors entering into that WPR.
But Libertarians have the chance to really show a distinction here. Because the emphasis of a Libertarian view is “We don’t care why you don’t work. Maybe you don’t like any jobs you qualify for. Maybe you’ve just decided that you can’t work. Or maybe you’re just lazy. You don’t have to explain yourself to us. Don’t work if you don’t want to. But the fact is you don’t work. And (except in extreme cases) it’s not other workers’ responsibility to support that decision”.
Although Libertarians focus more on facts (“don’t” work rather than “won’t” or “can’t” work) there is no question here that the “except in extreme cases” addition here is judgmental. And even a Libertarian administration would have to make serious decisions about what constitutes “extreme”. Many Libertarians would argue for a “social safety net” and many would argue against it entirely.
But at least the focus would be on reducing the cost and impact of the ridiculously high WPR. Which politicians rarely talk about. Raising the number of jobs and lowering the unemployment rate helps some. But unless that WPR gets drastically higher there is little likelihood that workers on the lower end of the wage scale are going to see any noticeable relief.
Removing all of the barriers that keep the WPR high is necessary. And that is at the heart of Libertarian ideas. Making that much more well known is going to be essential this next election.
So, forget the UR. Forget the JCR. Libertarians should be screaming about the WPR.