Monday, September 20, 2010

How to Fix the Economy

Heard on the news today that officially speaking, the recession ended a year ago. That is, things aren't technically getting worse anymore, there's just a lot of leftover bad. Economists call this period after a recession ends a "recess" because so many people are underemployed and therefore theoretically have more time to play outside (if you're an economist, playing outside is always only theoretical). Americans who are not economists don't know the technical term "recess" and so they call the period we're in lots of other words which are not printable on this blog and spend their extra time applying for theoretical jobs.

Our recess: looks a bit lonely, but otherwise nice.

The good news about the current recess is that I have a part-time job. I teach three classes at a university, which happens to be what full-time professors do, except that they have to go to faculty meetings. Also they get paid nearly twice as much as I do and get medical benefits and usually travel allowances.

I know numerous people in the same position I am in, because they are my co-workers. Like me, they graduated at a time when most institutions have full-time hiring freezes, and therefore hire lots of the people who can't find full-time jobs to teach part-time for less money and no benefits instead.

Don't get me wrong--I don't blame my employer. When the economy is slow and your funding is down, there aren't many options other than to do what they're doing. My guess is that numerous companies in numerous sectors are doing the exact same sorts of things right now. If my company let all of us extra part-timers go and replaced us with full-time employees, we'd be stuck with nowhere to go, and the company would be stuck with too much payroll for a continuing economic recess.

No--in order for things to get better, all the underemployed people in the country would have to quit at once and not take another job unless it paid nearly twice as much, included benefits, and involved mandatory attendance at boring meetings. If this mass quitting were to happen, employers would all have to take a crazy risk at once and start hiring full-time, which would give most of the people who just quit real jobs, which would stimulate the economy, which would save all the companies that just risked their necks to hire.

Yes--every struggling company would be foolish to hire full-time people now and every single part-time employee doing more than part-time work would be incredibly foolish to quit now, but if all the part-timers were to quit and all the companies were to hire, things would work out just fine.

...all quit our jobs at once! That's change America can believe in
if it closes its eyes and tries really, really hard.

So: if you see President Obama this week, tell him to read this blog post. And this blog post will tell him to cancel his traditional yearly message to sixth graders and address the nation's part-timers instead. If he tells us all to quit, and we all listen, the recess will end and he'll get re-elected. If the President doesn't read this blog, or doesn't come up with the same brilliant plan on his own, his approval ratings will continue to fall and we'll end up with four years of President Glenn Beck.

The choice is yours. Well, no, actually it's his. I think.

Please leave a comment if I'm right, Mr. President. (I'd also accept an electronic hoofprint from your unicorn if you're in a hurry.)


  1. It's nice of you to blame the overuse of adjunct faculty on the economy, but in much better economic times, the college where I taught gave me more classes than full-time instructors were teaching, and still gave me less money and no benefits. I guess attending faculty meetings must be the key to making a living in academia.

    Aunt Sheila


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