Jobs Can’t Find People

The New York Times reports that, in the areas devastated by drug addiction, it’s hard for companies to find workers even for good-paying blue-collar jobs with benefits. It’s a vicious circle where many people turned to drugs after losing their jobs in the recession of 2007-12, but now when the economy has finally picked up, they can’t go back to work because their bodies have been colonized by drugs.

The especially sad part of the story is the number of young people who, instead of pursuing their dreams in the most energetic and productive season of their lives, have become useless, sad potheads. Obviously, a choice in favor of vegetating uselessly instead of discovering the world and making it your own isn’t made in a vacuum.


12 thoughts on “Jobs Can’t Find People”

  1. This feels exaggerated. First of all, these companies don’t employ many people. Secondly, they’re offering decent wages, great health care benefits and they’re obviating the skills requirement by offering training on the company dime. If the opoid pothead epidemic was as bad as they say it is, you should see similar low skilled employers in the area either drop their drug testing requirements and/or having massive problems hiring people at the current wages. There is no such trend in retail or hospitality or healthcare, all of which employ far more people for far less money, drug test and do not offer on the job training.

    If I owned these companies I’d be looking for robots to do these jobs because the only other alternative is to raise wages to 1983 levels, which is unaffordable for these companies.


    1. There is definitely such a trend in service industries, too. And even without drug testing. People simply drift away after a couple of weeks on the job. Young people, middle aged people. In the areas affected by the drug epidemic it’s a big problem.


  2. Neoliberalism has two big problems with people.

    It tends to think of them as fungible and interchangeable widgets.

    It tends to think of them as equipment than can be switched off for long periods of time when not needed and then drug out of mothballs when they might be useful.


      1. It’s the same thing as in that article about a young fellow who came out of jail. His aunt treated him like he’d been in storage and can now be switched on. And was shocked to discover that he had lived a whole life story in jail.


        1. And then there is the whole narrative of “we need X billions to end the drug epidemic.” How are these billions going to solve the problem? By opening rehabs? They don’t work if an addict returns to the same environment that led him to addiction. This is not a problem of not enough rehabs. There is a social structure in place that feeds the problem. Just by themselves, rehabs are useless.


  3. I know you hate the UBI, but what do you think of a federally guaranteed job for everyone? That way, you still transfer payments to the poor without them turning into purpose-less drug-addicted zombies.


      1. From what I can tell one of the main jobs of government in the future will be to employ people (often in indirect, camoflauged ways).

        The problem in the USSR was (partly) that normal incentives didn’t work – you wouldn’t be fired for doing a bad job or promoted for doing a good job (among many other problems). Presumably government funded jobs will have some incentives built in.


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