I was reading a wonk blog post that mentioned this statement by President Obama, "He’s said he wants to create 'more chances for folks to earn their way into the middle class as long as they’re willing to work for it.'"
The obvious corollary to this should be helping those who are not willing to work to get into the middle class to not have to. A major problem for many employers of lower wage workers is that they have issues finding employees who can do basic things like show up to work on time and spend their shift working rather than goofing off. This understandably makes them reluctant to take chances on lower wage workers more generally by giving them opportunities for greater responsibility and instead instills an attitude that low wage workers are dispensable.
This raises the question in my mind of why we consider it a good thing to make everyone work? Someone that doesn't want to work and is content living in a rat's nest of an apartment eating Cheetos, getting stoned, and playing video games isn't going to be anyone's idea of a model worker. Why is it a good idea to make someone willing to work to get ahead to have to compete with losers in the job market? Most businesses have crude measures for recruiting low wage workers, its hard to distinguish Mr. Cheetos from someone that has worked hard at multiple low wage employers with high turnover. Most small businesses won't bother trying.
Yet we constantly hear of policies that are designed primarily to punish Mr. Cheetos until he is willing to go out and get a job. This makes no sense, Mr. Cheetos is a terrible worker no one wants. Why not pursue policies to keep Mr. Cheetos on the couch so employers only have Mr. Willing To Work to choose from?
Wouldn't everyone be better off in this scenario?
Of course, if you believe in labor exploitation it makes a lot of sense to get Mr. Cheetos off the couch because this produces more labor supply and makes it easier to exploit Mr. Willing to Work but this isn't a theory often mentioned in polite company.