What's the single best idea to jumpstart job creation today?
It is easy to get cynical about job creation. There are, after all, many incoherent policy suggestions about dealing with the worst job market in the U.S. since the Depression. However, they range along a continuum between "do anything" and "do nothing", with brief forays into self-serving tax policy. It is wearying and nihilism-inducing.
Short of simply becoming cynical about the whole thing, what can be done? Surprisingly, quite a bit. Here are some ideas that haven't been tried, and have a high likelihood of making a real impact:
• Give every foreign graduate student in a U.S. science, technology, engineering, or mathematics program a work visa. Better yet, give them a green card. Foreign-born technologists are among the most predictable creators of new companies, many of which go on to create success here, hiring madly the whole time. Instead, we send them home. Stupid.
• Make healthcare more portable and entrepreneur-friendly. One of the things you hear most often from entrepreneurs outside their 20s (when they're still immortal), is that healthcare worries prevent them from striking out on their own. We need healthcare for entrepreneurs, programs to make it easier for real people to go out and create companies and hire people, without fear of bankruptcy if they become ill.
• Fix the many goofy laws hampering entrepreneurs. Just off the top of my head, we have the new PROTECT IP legislation (hurts content entrepreneurs), existing patent law (condones the job-killing litigiousness of patent trolls), and sales taxes (ancient ideas of location has caused Amazon to end its California affiliate sales program). Fixing any or all of these would be a cheap job creation program, mostly by fixing things that are stupidly broken.
• Benchmark U.S. states in terms of ease and cost of company creation. There is no public, transparent, consistent basis by which U.S. states compete for entrepreneurs' affections. Instead, we have high-gloss PR campaigns and subsidies, and entrepreneurs unable to make good choices. We need a federally-driven campaign to force states to compete on the basis of entrepreneur-friendliness. A little transparent competition at the state level would go a very long in job creation - at a very low cost.
These are just a few of things we could to drive U.S. job creation. None of them need cost much money, none are complicated, and none of them are tied to government stimulus largesse and its unpredictability. So, what are we waiting for?
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