How to close the BS gap

What would liberals do without gaps to close? I think they’d pretty much have to go out of business. You’ve your education gap. You’ve got your power gap. You’ve got your jail gap. You’ve got your income gap, perhaps the granddaddy of them all.

This week Senators Mary Landrieu and Patty Murray took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to introduce us to yet another gap: “The skills gap.” I know when I want to understand issues related to productive employment, Landrieu and Murray are among the first people who spring to mind, and they don’t disappoint.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Landrieu and Murray explain, we have approximately three million job openings, all waiting to be filled. With so many Americans out of work, what’s the problem? I know what you’re thinking. It’s not Obama or his policies! Of course not.

No, the problem is a gap. Landrieu and Murray explain: “There is a widening ‘skill gap’ that prevents many Americans from filling the jobs of the 21st century economy. If we want to get our economy back on track and get workers back on the job, we will have to address this issue in a better way.”

Now here is a question that seems to be raised by the ostensible subject of the column: what are the skills required to fill the open jobs? Unfortunately, Landrieu and Murray never do get around to answering that question. One would think that an answer to that question would be the predicate to doing something about the problem, if it is a problem. Apparently not.

If you guessed that this particular gap requires government spending to close, you have a promising career as a student of gaps in store. Landrieu and Murray advise:

The sad fact is that we spend considerably less than other developed countries on labor-market policies, including work-force training and job-search programs. At the individual level, the U.S. invested only $908 per labor-market participant—$84 dollars, or 9.2%, less than the average amount spent by other member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

We believe that the skills gap is a consequence of our failure to seriously invest in the education of America’s work force. Without an educated pool of workers from which to hire, small businesses are bearing the financial burden of teaching these skills.

Laudrieu and Murray have something specific in mind: “A critical first step: reauthorizing and reforming the Workforce Investment Act, our nation’s foundational federal work-force development policy. We also need to expand innovative approaches that have produced results, such as career pathways programs that provide labor-market information to students and job seekers about in-demand jobs, and the skills and education necessary to get them.”

The truth is, Landrieu and Murray don’t understand the first thing about the creation of jobs or helping citizens fill them. They understand the great virtue of doling out money appropriated from productive citizens who would like nothing better than to lighten the load by getting the likes of Landrieu and Murray off their backs.

Landrieu and Murray prove that one gap is for real: the BS gap. It’s a gap that President Obama has widened to something like the breaking point. Yet it’s a gap you don’t hear much about, because no government program is required to fix it. The gap can be reduced simply by oral closure.

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