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Bad jobs needed

Posted by Richard on July 10, 2011

Walter Russell Mead thinks the inner city today faces three key problems, and one of them is lack of jobs. But it's not more good jobs our large cities need, according to Mead, it's more not-so-good jobs:

Think of the path to successful middle class living as a ladder; the lower rungs on that ladder are not nice places to be, but if those rungs don’t exist, nobody can climb.  When politicians talk about creating jobs, they always talk about creating “good” jobs.  That is all very well, but unless there are bad jobs and lots of them, people in the inner cities will have a hard time getting on the ladder at all, much less climbing into the middle class.

Many sensitive and idealistic people in our society work very hard to keep from connecting these dots and admitting to themselves that bad jobs are something we need. Quacks abound promising us alternatives (“green jobs” is the latest fashionable delusion), but ugly problems rarely have pretty solutions.  We need entry level jobs that will get people into the workforce, and we need ways that they can learn useful skills at affordable prices that will help them climb the ladder and move on.

To get these jobs, we have to change the way our cities work.  Essentially, we have created urban environments in which the kind of enterprises that often hire the poor — low margin, poorly capitalized, noisy, smelly, dirty, informally managed without a long paper trail — can’t exist. …

Read the whole thing.

HT: Rand Simberg, who notes that, in addition to the factors Mead mentions, the minimum wage is part of the problem.

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One Response to “Bad jobs needed”

  1. Billll said

    The bad jobs in the city are already there. I interviewed for one with the EPA no less. They want people to travel to spill and accident sites and collect info as to what happened, what’s being done, and how it’s coming along. This requires an engineering degree and 20-30 years of experience, for which you will be a contract employee with no benefits, and get paid $12/hr.

    Did I mention this would not be a full-time job? You work only when they need you. They describe it as work offered to older workers. I think you could do better at Wal-Mart.

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