Free College for All Gets Headlines… Free Entry-Level Training for Diesel Mechanics, Though, Makes a Difference

April 8, 2021 Leave a comment

Count me among the group who believes that college is oversold and job training for careers that require gritty soap are under-respected. Unfortunately, during the past several years, fly-by-night profiteering programs that offer federally backed loans have gotten far too large a market share in job training leaving prospective trainees without work and saddled with debt and the profiteers with full pockets. What’s the solution?

The NYTimes offered one way out of the woods in “Job training That’s Free Until You’re Hired is a Blueprint for Biden”, and article by Steve Lohr that describes a model developed by Social Finance. Social Finance is described on its webpage as a nonprofit

dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progress. We bring uncommon partners together around a common purpose: to measurably improve the lives of those in need.

Through a set of outcomes-based financing strategies called Pay for Success, we work to disrupt the status quo, shifting mindsets to align resources with impact.

As described in Mr. Lohr’s article, I would offer this prosaic description: Social Finance matches employers seeking skilled workers with prospective workers seeking skills that will yields higher pay. And based on my own prejudices for cooperative work-study and an emphasis on the work-ethic in a team setting, I see this model as a great way forward. As much as I wish major corporations would offer their own in-house training programs and wish that schools could create the kinds of networks that Social finance can create, I don’t foresee it happening any time soon. One of the key elements of the job training described in this article is mobility. That is, there is no assumption that those getting training in, say, Ohio, will work in that state. And though Mr,. Lohr does not say as much, it is evident that those who sign on for training enter knowing that this might be the case. As one who moved frequently as a youngster and as an adult, I see no problem in moving from one community to another. But as one who did extensive consulting in rural communities, I can also appreciate why some people would be very unsettled in moving from their home town to a community of strangers.

Will this work to scale? It will if the higher-minded mission of Social Finance works— that is if workers seeking higher wages are willing to shift their mindsets to align their opportunities with where the work is…. AND… employers are willing to align their compensation so that workers feel assured that their commitment to relocation is worthwhile.

Florida Legislature to Students: Want a Scholarship? Forget Liberal Arts and Go Only for a High ROI

April 8, 2021 Leave a comment

As the NBC report below indicates, the conservative legislature in Florida is considering the passage of a bill that would stop the issuance of State scholarships to students who are not majoring in subjects that will result in highly compensated jobs. The effect of this would be the de facto end of scholarships for liberal arts majors and anyone aspiring to a career in public service… which would include social workers, nurses, and (ahem) teachers— none of whom, especially in Florida, will ever earn as much as, say, real estate sales persons. If our country is only interested in money, this is what the future holds… and the Democrats were all in on an Return On Investment model during Obama’s years.

In GA, Democracy Wins Either Way! Corporate Support for Voting Rights Helps Democracy… Corporate Support for Voting Rights Could Increase Public Funds if GOP Keeps its Promise and Raise Corporate Taxes… Which Would ALSO Help Democracy.

April 7, 2021 Leave a comment

A recent NYTimes article on the quandary corporate leaders face in Georgia downplayed the impact of the Delta and Coca Cola CEOs on democracy in general…. and in doing so downplayed the pickle the GOP finds itself in for supporting legislation that is clearly undemocratic and rooted in lies. 

As the title of this post indicates, the ultimate winner in the fight over voting rights is democracy. The laws the GOP passed to make it difficult to vote were so clearly anti-democratic that businesses could not abide their passage or the impact they might have on their workforce. In response to pressure from civil rights and religious leaders in their home state of Georgia, the CEOs of Delta Airlines and Coca Cola who are headquartered in Atlanta issued public statements expressing general support for voting rights. When a bloc of black business leaders joined a bloc of moral and civic leaders in Georgia and across the country, both Delta and coca Cola denounced the passage of Georgia’s law and the local Atlanta businesses were joined by over 100 national corporations AND Major League Baseball in denouncing Georgia’s law. 

The GOP pushback was swift and predictable: they objected to businesses interposing their new “woke” ethos into politics and threatened to retaliate in some form. But how that would work is unclear. Would they, for example, support higher taxes for businesses the Democrats are seeking to address infrastructure upgrades? If not, what would they do with the revenues from those taxes? Would they impose regulations on those corporations to help address climate change? Would they support legislation to help workers unionize in “right to work” states? would they work to repeal Citizens United so that corporations are no longer viewed as individuals? Given the track record of the GOP when it comes to supporting legislation businesses want it is difficult to imagine exactly what they will be able to do in terms of “punishment” without siding with the Democrats who tend to seek higher taxes, more regulations, and more wages, benefits, and improved working conditions. 

The only clear victor in this battle is democracy, because the brouhaha over voting rights is making it clear that laws designed to restrict voting are laws that undercut democracy and the recent efforts by the Democrats to modestly increase the taxes on businesses are designed to meet needs virtually every American supports but require funding to complete. Shifting the revenues from shareholders to the general public to help cover the costs of needed repairs would reinforce the role a democratic government can and should play.