Paul Jacob

Others argued that there might not even be a temporary employment industry at all if our economy were a lot more free--a lot less taxed, less regulated, less burdened by roadblocks for employees and employers alike. Or at any rate, that the temp industry would be very different.

I don't doubt that either. In a truly unhampered market, persons can get hired in a day, fired a few days later if things aren't working out, and hired by another place the day after that. Nobody is punished if the relationship doesn't succeed, nor is the employer saddled with all kinds of burdens and threats for the crime of giving somebody an opportunity. In a free market, chances are good that when you really settle down with a firm, the match-up is a good one. And no need to cling to a job for dear life no matter how much you may hate it; other opportunities are always just around the corner.

The self-schooled economist Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993), author of the famous primer (start italics)Economics In One Lesson(end italics), once recalled his own job-hunting days as a young man in an era long before the New Deal went after businesses with sledgehammer and tongs.

"[W]hen I started out to get a job, I remember I had no skills whatever," he told Marty Zupan in an interview for (begin italics)Reason(end italics) magazine. "So I would get a job, and I would last two or three days and be fired. It never surprised me nor upset me, because I read the (start italics)Times(end italics) early in the morning, went through the ads, and I'd practically have a job that day. There was no such thing as a minimum wage at that time. There was no such thing as relief, except maybe there were places where you could get a soup handout or something....You had a free market. I didn't have the skills. But each time I kept learning something." With this staccato apprenticeship under his belt, Hazlitt began his journalistic career at (start italics)The Wall Street Journal(end italics)--at the ripe old age of twenty.

Of course, no matter how easy it is to get a job, once you get it, you must still then exert yourself. Ay, there's the rub.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.