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Tom Kalil sent me a pointer to this very interesting article about one little-mentioned aspect of the Obama job plan. I love the idea that people out of work could try to start their own business rather than just looking for a job.

This idea that you get a job from someone else rather than creating one through your own effort is fundamental to restarting the economy. Even if you do end up working for someone else, the kind of mind that says "It's my responsibility to make something useful with my time" is one that is more likely to get brought into someone else's enterprise than one that is just passively looking for a pre-determined slot.

It seems odd to me that unemployment insurance should have had this baked-in bias against self-employment, and it's fabulous that this inequality is being addressed. What do you think?
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Why will it work this time it sure made unempolyment higher the last time
Could someone not get the out of work people together work out their skills and strengths and organize constructive plans
I agree, its so strange that there is this built in bias against creating a job. Would be wonderful if somehow they could extend this to people like myself who have quit their job voluntarily in hopes of doing their own business. Might give a few more people the courage to do something bold. Of course, a system like this would be ripe for abuse.
+Tim O'Reilly is making a good point. Nothing to loose and much to win if it works. Anyway, there is no real alternative to this kind of initiative. So why not trying it?
Usually someone who puts up money for a new enterprise - even a tiny one - does it either as a loan or for a share of the eventual action.

At first reading this program seems to fit into neither of those niches. Am I missing something?
Just more spending money we do not have on programs that will not work. Empty suit with a blank resume.
This is going to be a boondoggle for people committing fraud. How many people is this really going to help that want to legitimately start their own businesses?
I'm unemployed and disabled trying to create a job for myself instead of find one, so I would really appreciate the .gov helping me out a smidge. It's rough out here right now, and my income monthly is $500ish :p
What is interesting from a lot of the comments I see is how little alternatives people have to propose and how loud the voice of dissent is. Well am using my savings to create my own business quietly ... while all the no-govt supporters can continue to enjoy their hatred ... And I am not taking a cent from the govt ... but I can see they are trying. I am not sitting in my arm chair and claiming that I have the solution ... nor am I sitting in a Tea Party meeting shouting crazy stuff ... I am on the ground actually trying to start a business not because of the money but because of the love I have for my work.
+Tim O'Reilly I hope you are right in thinking that folks who are self starters are more attractive to employers. I do not think so. In my experience, employers are hesitant to hire experienced individuals even if they come with a successful track record. I am not sure whether it is because of future competition/ competing visions etc... within an organization ... but I do see a lot of employers getting defensive and employing rather younger and lesser experienced individuals that they can presumably mold according to what they think is needed.
A lot of the comments here seem to suggest the people who are unemployed are lazy and just looking to cheat the system. That may be true when unemployment is at 3%, but right now it's different. There are a lot of highly-skilled, motivated people out there who could probably really make something out of this. Would people cheat it? Of course; people will try to cheat any government program, but you can't assume that this is going to be any worse. Give the people a chance and you might be surprised at what happens. Even if one person out of all the recipients and cheaters has a success, it could end up pouring a pile of money into the economy and creating a lot of jobs.
The suggested program is actually in place in 7 states already (and several other countries) and has gone through evaluations showing that this program can decrease people needing unemployment assistance. (People participating in the program are statistically less likely to need further public assistance.)

The costs to the government are similar to the costs for keeping someone on unemployment for a similar period, which we're doing a lot of right now. This is not a get-rich scheme, unless you think unemployment benefits are going to make you rich.
+Ramesh Ramloll The problem is that the Government can't create jobs it mostly creates policies that stifle job growth. You want jobs, reduce the burdensome amount of regulation. This jobs bill does nothing of the sort. It is just a rehash of failed policies.
This is a really smart thing. Thanks for pointing it out, Tim. The embedded bias against self employment is a vestige of a bygone era.
+Francesca Berger see, the problem is that you're thinking about this logically instead of emotionally and retributionally (hey, look, I made up a word!). This is something that much of the population, including some of the previous commenters, don't seem capable of doing.
+Kurt Fehlhauer I am not an expert, but 90% of my PhD friends in economics have personally shared with me that the situation we are in is a result of lack of regulations in the financial sector. Now I think I will take the view of experts on this one ... can't do otherwise. I also believe in global warming because this is the best of what science has to tell ... I do not claim that I figured it all out by myself. Btw it is Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan who are one of the early fans of deregulation ... may be if you are a deregulation fan, at least give some credit to the democrats too.
We seem to have become a nation of naysayers with a predilection for uselessly, mindlessly repeating the bs mantra of "It is just more of the same failed policies just re-branded and repackaged" instead of taking our creative energy to offer up something constructive either as a viable and useful critique or as a viable and useful alternate idea presenting such for worthy consideration.

It would most likely be quite instructive to discover how many of the mantra parrots have ever actually had to deal with reality as it is now faced by the 14+ million or so out-of-work/out-of-career FELLOW citizens: Chances are good that the majority of the parrots have never found themselves on the scrap heap of American life through no fault of their own and in spite of having been conscientious workers and responsible family folks all of the lives hence one can only feel sad for them that they choose smugness over empathy not realizing that in as much as one of us suffers we all suffer or realizing that there but for the good fortune they could find themselves equally disadvantaged in a heart beat. I think it is also instructive to consider what Mike Lofgren has had to say that suggests those who hold to this mantra have drunk the koolaid at the fountain of deliberate misinformation propaganda that we've been hearing for some time now.

Let's instead devote our creative attention to doing or suggesting something constructive that can benefit us all in the long run. It is a given that we need consumers to be consuming/people to be spending at vastly greater rates than currently in place in order to grow our economy: This, in turn, will do far more to help reduce deficits while also benefiting us as a nation than any deficit reduction plan currently on the table.

That said, I think this would be a great idea and I think it should be possible to establish the option in such a way that fraud and misuse could be minimized given the degree of data we can now gather about every citizen: It merely becomes an issue of developing appropriate business intelligence information management and decision support software tools to enable adequate control and management of the option.
+Ramesh Ramloll Sure, I will give credit to Clinton, but Clinton is not currently in office. What has Obama done for us lately.
I'd rather pay taxes to support a program that eventually gets people off welfare than a program that is simply a handout. I also find it downright disgusting that people can be against helping their neighbor but support corporate welfare. And they will shout from the rooftops that they want "Under God" kept in the Pledge of Allegiance yet never lift a finger to practice the charity that Jesus preached. I would call them hypocritical, but that would give hypocrites a bad name. No system is 100% perfect unless we want to hire a crap ton of regulators to enforce the rules, oh wait, can't grow government. There are a lot of people in this country that need to stop and take a good long look at themselves and figure out what they really stand for. Because simply being contrarian and standing in opposition for the sake of in being opposition is the surest path to a race to the bottom for us all. To summarize what I hear from the fringe is "Government programs that help individuals are filled with fraud, but I don't support government regulations or hiring civil servant to enforce the laws; but corporate hand outs are okay because they create jobs except they don't because the Bush tax cuts have been in place for how long? And what was unemployment with higher tax rates when Clinton left office?" This childish whining by the fringe elements of our country has got to stop.
I just read this Arthur Laffer OpEd "How to Fight Black Unemployment" and it seems relevant tho this discussion. It's worth a read.
Hey I didn't know that comments made here appear in real time. Nice.
+Ben Ford I'm not sure Obama will be running on those bullet points when he tries to get re-elected. Most of those are massive fails.
Hey Mike, back in the early 80s I risked it all, started a company with NO VC just my savings, and a small loan from my parents. It ended up with 40 employees, most of whom stayed with us for 5+ years. The business ran for 14 years till Microsoft choked us out with vaporware lies (promises never kept). Anyway, that business was driven by individual initiative, risk-reward, guts, compassion, and a good idea. The most difficult part of it was finding people who were honest, capable, reliable, could communicate well in English, and had self-confidence enough not to be hard on their co-workers. Anyway, individual initiative, the dream of the reward for taking the risk... this is what most small business owners have in common. Getting business welfare would be a small part of it. Now... someone who starts a business primarily because they can get business welfare... to me that's a fraudster in the making from the get-go. It's like the teenage girl who gets pregnant and has a baby so she can "have her own case" (call that un-PC but it is common; I have first hand knowledge of it). Also (and unrelated to the preceding), it's not that cool to marginalize people who are entitled to their opinion by calling them "fringe" people. In my opinion it's a bit rude.
+Kurt Fehlhauer hehe, I suppose it depends on perspective. In any case, he's done a hell of a lot, especially when taken in context of the republican contrarianism.
Hahaha! Less regulation!? Really!?!? Even though every economist under the sun says that non-existent regulation is PRECISELY what caused this financial mess. Sure, let's do that again. The very definition of insanity! I know, it is easier to repeat talking points instead of examining the facts for yourself.
When you having nothing to lose is the BEST time to take bigger risks.
+Ben Ford You are correct he has done a lot. He has increased the national debt more than Bush did in eight years, Obama did it in three. He is quite the over achiever. He even managed to make Jimmy Carter look good. Impressive.
Mike, it's not a risk if you have nothing to lose...
+Kurt Fehlhauer when you're ready for fact instead of ideology, the truth is out there. Until then, this doesn't really belong here. Cheers.
+Mike Parks How about the government regulations that forced the banks to make bad loans? If that problem would not of existed in the first place we would not of had the housing bubble in the first place and the following financial crisis. People like Barnie Frank and Maxine Waters were all in favor of this reckless lending. Their are other regulations besides financial that need addressing. Why does it cost Intel an extra billion dollars to open a chip plant in the US vs overseas?
+Ben Ford So far I have not seen much fact, just kool-aid liberal spin. You just sent me a link to a site that claims Obama has created more jobs than Bush. What is the current unemployment rate? What was it during Bush's term?
I'm currently unemployed, something that's happened a little too often in my life. Every time it happens, I hang out my free-lance shingle and do consulting gigs until something "full time" comes along. There are two problems with this approach:

1) Unemployment insurance is all or nothing. If I get billable hours in a week, no unemployment for that week, even if the client takes 30, 60, or even 90 days to pay. Juggling the cash flow gets really ugly.

2) I can't get sick in that period. There are no truly affordable private insurance plan and COBRA is a sick joke (pun intended). As a result, I jump for the first job with benefits, even if everything else about the job says "Stay away!" and even if the free-lance work seems to be picking up to an almost sustainable level.

So rather than contribute to growing the economy, I have to play the game the only way I know how to play it... and it's really not fun.
+Michael Curran Really, you mean the banks made loans to people that actually had decent credit scores? So what.
@Bob, yep. Unless I missed the rest of the article, all it really said was "this is bad because I say it's bad" and that's no way to argue a point.
That's a load of crock, there was no gun to anyone companies head to make loans that they knew would turn south. Should the people who took out the loans have known better!? Sure. But an individual looking out for his/her family is far less culpable than a company that should take upon itself an ethical obligation above the regulatory obligations to do what is in everyone's best interests (theirs, the loan applicant, and society at large) and deny loans to people who can't afford it. Instead, they knew darn well they could ride the bubble and make money hand over fist and not care knowing full well their paid for politicians on both side of the aisle would be there to bail them out when the fit hit the shan. Professionals (engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc.) must have ethical obligations that supercede legal obligations. But greed of corporate America trumped ethics.
Also, we allowed the regulators to dwindle away. Sorry, but in any properly working system you need enforcers of the rules. Why do professional sports have umpires and referees? The rules for professional sports are all well-documented an known by both parties, errr teams, so why pay for referees? Every should know the rules and play accordingly. Except that's not reality. We need referees in sports, we need regulators in key functions of society.
+Don Rideaux-Crenshaw If you can take the risk, keep at it on the freelance until it DOES pick up to a sustainable level. It will take longer than you ever imagined, which is true of any business!!!!! If you can develop that freelance business, though, it will be worth it. Taking welfare,as you found out, pushes you toward remaining on the dole. The risk in your case is healthcare. Depending on your age and health, it could be a manageable risk.

Today, I talked to Adam Weiss, a guy who seems to have been in a similar position (PhD astronomy/physics, migrant post-doc scientist, no real jobs, career driven by government grants). He started a little one-man business doing demo videos for iPhone apps several years ago, and now he makes a nice living at it (expanded to Android and iPad). He's not getting rich, but he is OK, and is looking forward to bringing in some employees soon. He does beautiful work (and he told me that it took him years to perfect it... he just came up with a new technique for which he charges extra, and which is amazing). He's a 1-man operation (as am I now and for the last 12 years). I hope this has encouraged you.
+Mike Parks Be careful. I know for a fact that Angelo Mozilo CEO of Countrywide was visited by a minion of HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, and specifically encouraged to make high risk loans to "underprivileged" people, and charge additional interest for the risk. He was also told that the government would mitigate the risk by guaranteeing the loans via FNMA and FHLMC, whose standards would be "adjusted" to promote "affordable housing". He was like a kid in a candy store!!! You can discount what I just said because I can't tell you HOW I know other than to say an "acquaintance" now works for the division of Bank of America which manages the Countrywide loan portfolio. The guy who did that deal, former B of A CEO Ken Lewis, is gone with his millions. He left a wreck (having pushed through the acquisition of MBNA's bottom-fished credit card loans, Countywide's affordable housing loans, and worst of all Merrill Lynch's toxic self).
Anyways, to get back on topic. If I understand correctly, laying the foundation for a program that could let people become entrepreneurs of small business which is the backbone of our country; and in turn hire others is a bad idea because it COULD be abused! Aghast! Never! Yes, I am sure 99% of the people who would take advantage of the program would be simply deadbeat freeloaders. Waste is a byproduct of any system, and trying to reduce waste to 0% is an exponential task with diminishing returns. Case in point, the otherwise noble goal of Florida to remove drug addicts from the rolls of social help. I firmly don't believe that those who use illegal drugs should get taxpayer funded social security. And if drug screening is good for our military it should be good for those suckling at the teet of the taxpayer as many see it. However, if it ends up costing us more money than it saves is it really sound to continue? I suspect for many the answer is yes, but that proves it's less about financial stewardship and more about giving someone else their comeuppance. Typically it is directed as someone as they see inferior to themselves. I'll tell you what, why not walk a month in their shoes and see if they are really living a taxpayer funded "highlife".
I understand. But I guess the major point, again to tie this back to the original topic, is that what is done is done. Both parties for decades have abused the system. But the future is ours and we can make it how we want. And isn't a program that encourages the most basic of American ideals, self-determination, worth a shot? Or do we continue with simple handouts that lead nowhere?
Of course it would be nice if the plan also included repeal of legislation that gave the large multinational corporations the ability to squash the efforts of us small biz entrepreneurs... Once can not compete with the WalMarts of the world... The field is not by any means level... #JustSayin
Since when does "permission" from the government dictate how recipients actually spend their unemployment benefit? We're not actually talking about raising the amount of the benefits. I suspect that self-starters are already doing so... and while its interesting to see government policy reflect reality, its hardly a revolution. Without the benefit actually changing... this is a bit of a red herring. Although I'd be more in favor of differentiating between an unemployment benefit and a entrepreneurial incentive (if for nothing more than the accounting).
To be quite fair Obama has not really offered anything new here. In NY the unemployment service already does all this. You must take some classes then you can turn you benefit into a business launching mechanism...

Of course i am over simplifying the process but it's all already there...

Still I wonder what would have happened if Obama had been president for the last two years... Perhaps he could have focused on creating jobs in lieu of smoke & mirrors... #JustSayin
+John Martinez I think you have it mostly right. Human nature is such that people will do what they need to get it, and THEN not do anything they aren't required to thereafter. I repeat my previous assertion that people who start a business because they can get business welfare aren't in it for the right reasons and will fail most of the time, wasting our money. You have to have the fire and desire.
More fuel for mediocrity. Bought or built gas guzzlers instead of thinking forward? Let's reward those poor decisions. Bought too much house or built a business on selling too much house? Let's reward those poor decisions. Haven't learned a new trade to take advantage of high employment rates in other areas? Let's give you some money to do whatever you think you should be doing!
+Kurt Fehlhauer Hardly, at the height of the bubble banks would have found a way to get a Welsh Corgi a loan if they could find a way to convince it to hold a pen. Make 'em and sell 'em, quantity over quality.
I'm still stunned to here this coming from O'Reilly. It's as if small business hasn't been enjoying the low hanging fruit of democratized and on-demand service technologies for a decade now. Anyone can start a business for pocket change. Anyone out of work who has been spending that time innovating their way back into an income shouldn't be rewarded with public funded entrepreneurialism. I find this absurd.
It's yet another way to buy votes of the poor & down trodden...
+Mikel King " It's yet another way to buy votes of the poor & down trodden..." - just wanted to post something similar. Yes, a very expensive way to buy votes with "other" people money. ‎So goes the Obama White House – demand passage of a bill that does not exist, while simultaneously preparing for yet further campaigning at the cost of millions more dollars to the American taxpayer.

Besides, it is not the president job to pass a legislation.
+Constantine Vasil Agreed! So where the hell has the Congress been for the last 9 months? GOP ran on jobs, job, jobs. And....still nothing. All we got from the GOP was one hostage situation to the next. First FY11 budget, then debt ceiling. But at least we can agree that the blame falls on Congress and the House GOP majority for not enacting legislation to do the #1 platform know, create jobs.
+Mike Parks "where the hell has the Congress been" - here in U.S.A. we have three executive branches House, Senate and President. GOP has now a majority only in the House.
No we have 3 branches of federal government. The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The Legislative branch is bicameral with a House of Representatives and Senate. The House is elected every 2 years and is suppose to be the body closest to the hearts and minds of the people, thus the two-year term. Per wikipedia "The Constitution grants the House several exclusive powers: the power to initiate revenue bills, to impeach officials, and to elect the President in case of an Electoral College deadlock." So my question is, if the GOP as the majority in the House campaigned so vigorously on jobs as mission #1, why has the House not presented their own plan. They should have presented a reasonable jobs plans day 1 and forced the Senate and President to either public debate or passage. But they haven't presented anything cause they were too damn worried about making a political statement through shutting down the government anyway they could. For a group of people who are supposedly so "results driven" they don't have much to show.
+Mike Parks OK you described it better, agree, could not find wiki quicker, but if Senate and President don't sign it, nothing happens.

Here in California - we have Solindra. Half a billion wasted...that is some money wasting on "job" creation. Also here we have "turtles" which are very endangered and because of this some companies cannot work here. Also in the desert there are some "geckos" which are also very "endangered" and because of this no company can work here in some places. Environment movement "business plan" is suing the EPA. EPA has a manual how to "sue EPA". Every time some new company wants to open business here, there come the green and sue the EPA. Businesses are leaving California, some go to Texas, but mostly they set production in China - because of the regulations. Businesses do not hire because of the uncertainty what new regulation will come again. More that 3,500 new regulations this year only. 150 old repealed - that was some promise for "de-regulation".

You type quicker again ;)
Agreed, the checks and balance is essential. And the Democrats should have been on this a hell of a lot sooner as well. My point is that both sides have been playing politics rather than doing what's best for the country; however I believe the game the GOP has been playing is far more dangerous. At the end of the day taking care of people is a moral imperative of a civilized society; free markets should take care of corporations.
I think that the solution of turning employees into entrepreneurs suffers from the same problem as attempting to give more money to the current employers. The issue with our current economy has nothing to do with the number of available employers, it has to do with the number of available consumers. Increasing the number of employers, even if they are self-employers, won't improve this at all.

Additionally, the average employed person is an employee because he/she doesn't have the necessary skills or resources to make a small business work. Entreprenuership is extremely hard, and the majority of all new businesses fail because of it. +Tim O'Reilly, shame on you, you of all people should know this. Trying to turn the unemployed into entreprenuers is mostly just asking them to go further into debt when nobody will give them a loan, while expecting them to fail because (here we get back to the beginning again) the market is horrible.
+Robert Rapplean "...the number of available consumers..." - exactly what I read from several CEO's - "we don't hire because there are not new customers". Also $10,000 in 14 months to start a business from jobless people? Is this a joke? No, it is designed so that not to pass so to blame somebody else later. These games for getting new voters are sick.
I think people would start their own jobs if there was some sort of basic universal catastrophic health care plan available to all.
Solyndra - all evidence points to this being a mob operation to fleece money via reverse mergers, bogus IPOs and government loans. This is some "job creation" program currently investigated by FBI, CEO homes raided for collectiong evidence. This story gets very serious.

Solyndra - In a deepening scandal that threatens to ensnare members of the Obama administration, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the company's finances “raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.” Two months later the company was awarded the loan under a green jobs program.

I bet the guys who cheered at the GOP debate for people dying for lack of Health Insurance are probably on g+
+Tim O'Reilly, this is how I became a self-employed project management trainer in 1995 - being a single father in a time of economic baisse.

This business keeps me busy still today.

It is a good approach, but it may not work for everybody.
Here are my observations, by the numbers:
1. Easy access to credit/debt led us to our current personal and national fiscal mess in the first place.
2. How are broke states gonna provide unemployment insurance as start up capital via these SEAs?
3. Income Based Repayment - if you you are a highly educated low wage earner, extending the terms of your student loans is prolonging the inevitable and encourages more debt accumulation. Great if you're a Progressive who loves crass consumerism and the taxes it creates. Bad if you're a citizen with dreams of retirement.

A college degree isn't the guarantee it once was, and the runaway costs of college education aren't making it more valuable. If the President wants more small businesses, he should engage the hard chargers coming out of high school, not college. Read The Millionaire Next Door - most self made high net worth individuals aren't college educated.
Education is the key element on developing the skills of analysis, economics, high technology and communication needed. A few high school grads may make it big in business but they still look for people with solid degrees for their top jobs

One other major benefit of university is it reduces the supply or unemployed workers. With youth unemployment very high the last thing we would need would be a sudden drop in the numbers at university
Too bad most degrees don't translate into economics, high technology or communications. The last time I checked most college students weren't pursuing hard science degrees. Hence the growing number of highly educated working poor.
+Glenn Snead though perhaps some degrees could use some reform, even a pure liberal arts education lays a solid ground work in language, reasoning, communication, arts, and history.

Skills of perspective, communication, along with an understanding of history and philosophy are invaluable to people who want to be at the top of their games.

But I would advice any young person in this economy to take as many software, science and math courses as they can.
+Bob Hooker You reinforce my point. Universities don't push the hard sciences. Few school systems push the hard sciences. Education is largely about enrollment and money. If you have a passable GPA and SAT score you only need sufficient debt to attend most universities.
Your points about language, reasoning, the arts, and history are lovely and high minded. How many of the thousands of recent graduates have this solid foundation? How many are running on assumption?
Don't give unemployed people startup money. Give them salaries to WORK at startups. The unemployed not only get salaries, but educations. The startup community increases their odds of success, and the gov't improves it's odds on betting on winners who contribute back.
I agree. I've seen so much whining and complaining about how "there are no jobs" from people who seem to feel that it is someone else's job to provide them with a job and believe that they are helpless to do anything if there isn't that other person standing there holding out that cookie-cutter job for them. Anything that encourages people to realize "well if I can't find a job, then maybe I can make my own" is a good thing.

Or course, there's a bit more to it as not everyone has the ability to create their own job and be successful at it. The full corollary is more along the lines of "well if I can't find a job, then maybe I can make my own, and if I can't do that then I need to learn some new skills", and it follows that there also might as well be added incentives for unemployed people who wish to enroll/re-enroll in school or a trade program instead of looking for an immediate position or trying to found their own business. That's probably the best way to help individuals who have skills that just aren't in demand anymore.
Yes, but theres also those of us that spent all our savings and used up our credit to build up businesses that ultimately ended up failing. Leaving us in a much worse condition than we were in to begin with.
I've been feeling that this latest downturn would result in less jobs returning and more entrepreneurship coming into play. The administration need to highlight that info more.
NPR's Marketplace had an interesting piece yesterday, during an interview with Joshua Glenn, co-author of "The Wage Slave's Glossary," a new collection of terms about work and the workplace.

Near the end of the interview, Glenn had the following quote that I found interesting:

"Once upon a time, there was a quite stark distinction between an artisan and a hireling, or a servant. And the artisan was somebody who could direct their own work, who could come and go as they pleased, who wasn't told how to do what they did. A hireling or a servant was somebody who couldn't do any of those things. Today, of course, most of us are in the latter category; most of us who have managers or bosses are pretty much told what to do and how to do it. The book is not against working, per se; it doesn't say that somehow magically we'd all have to do nothing. But it does suggest that perhaps there's other ways that things could be organized besides, you know, one guy is your manager and the other person is the worker."

Maybe altering policies to make self-employment a more common option could start to restore a bit more of the artisan-class to the workforce?
+Robert McGhee Yes, there is risk in starting a business. I lost my investment once before making it a second time. Thing is, there is (supposed to be) a reward for making it as well as a loss for not making it.
+Chris Devers That most of us are hirelings has been the case for most of history, at least as far back as the Greek and Egyptian heydays. I agree 100% with you that self-employment (which is a common thing that begets businesses which hire others) is a less-common option. The big barrier is healthcare. That was not always the case. When I started my businesses, you could get "major medical" for a hundred a month or so if you were under 50 and provably healthy. Look back at +Don Rideaux-Crenshaw's comment and see how the outrageous healthcare costs of today affects the thinking of potential entrepreneurs. Is a self-employed person a business?
I agree with the sentiment, but I think Tim takes for granted the interests and talents of the successful entrepreneur. My first profession - architecture - is a notoriously creative and entrepreneurial field but still, in my last office, there were many folks who were interested in no more than putting in 8 hours and having a good weekend at home. No self improvement or self marketing for these folks.

However I do believe that the deck is stacked against the entrepreneurs and small businesses that employ the majority of Americans. The imposing costs of private health care is a huge impediment to the startup and the current difficulty in obtaining a small business loan is another. Even if only 5% of unemployed Americans have the makings of an entrepreneur, removing the impediments to their startups may be enough to employ most of the other 95%. 
+Bob Denny Thing is, my business would have made it had fuel costs and commercial liability insurance not been so extortionately high. Now, I have neither the money or credit to "try again" and if the "cookie cutter" job market doesn't improve, it doesn't look like I will anytime soon.
Bankers can justify it... after all, debt is money.
That's the whole problem with the current Health Care Bill. No one has a clue what this will cost the individual, and that makes businesses nervous. Nothing the bill lowers the month to month costs, opting for end of tax year rebates instead. Great if you can already afford healthcare. Not so good if you can't and need the premium to pay other bills.

As for stimulating small businesses, the SBA has given millions to bad ideas for decades. Making unemployment funds available for the "right" to start a business puts unemployment insurance programs in danger. Those who succeed in small business are willing to accept years of rice and beans, long hours, and a daily struggle. From what I've read about the self made citizen, few Americans are frugal enough, tough enough to survive as an independent business owner.

Why else is Amway so popular?
+Kurt Fehlhauer The article you point at does not account for the fact that people with jobs pay taxes and generate revenue, IOW: fail.
+Peter Hunsberger It does not matter because the premise of your argument relies on the assumption that this plan is will generate more revenue than it costs.
No, I'm simply pointing out that the arguments in that article do not correctly account for the costs and the revenues. As a result the points made in the article are fallacious at best and possibly just more of the same malicious political trash talk that usually comes with this type of discussion...
+Peter Hunsberger Not anymore fallacious from the original article not even taking them into consideration in the first place. The costs of this program simply out way the benefits. While this program makes for some good liberal politics it makes poor economic sense which is malicious.
+Kurt Fehlhauer What do you make of all the positive reports from states and countries that have tried this kind of policy? When you say it doesn't make sense, are you arguing from a belief system or from data?
+Kurt Fehlhauer The first article makes no claim to examine the over all economics, the second article does but leaves out half the equation. It simply does not do what it claims.
+Tim O'Reilly If you could provide me a list of all these positive reports I would love to review them.

I have several objections to this idea, both ideological and practical. From past experience I know how hard it is to run a business on my own, so I really doubt most that are unemployed will be able to produce a successful company in the first place. It takes a certain mindset and people that have that mindset probably don't need taxpayer help in the first place. The second is the potential for fraud, just look at the Solyndra Loan, 535 million of taxpayer money wasted. If the government can't even loan money correctly to a business it supposedly scrutinized, how are we suppose to believe they are making wise investments with taxpayer dollars to unemployed folks? This plan expands the role of government and we should be asking other questions as well. Should the taxpayers be funding these types of activities in the first place? Doesn't venture capital fill the void already?

+Tim O'Reilly Given the past track record of this administration and getting the economy going, why do you believe this plan will be any different? Do you actually believe taxpayers will see a positive ROI?
Kurt, can you show me where the first article claims to examine something and then fails to do so? Not claiming to do something and then not doing it is a far different thing than claiming to do something and then only doing half of it.
+Peter Hunsberger That is my point it does not discuss the costs at all. It only describes the "benefits". Do you think this plan is worth it?
it is existing employers who hate idea of self-employed ex-workers - they don't want sudden army of competitors.
With the internet now you can create your own job no doubt. I have learned so much in the past 8 months about internet marketing for my business. I really feel this stuff can change the world one entrepenuer at a time.
Late response here - just found this post with a search. I do think this program is a good - and long overdue - idea, but as I understand it you have to be laid off from a traditional job to get it - can anyone verify? I will be launching some self-help initiatives for small business and early stage startups shortly. Circle or contact me if you would like to know more.
a job creation bill with increased taxes is a non starter. Just another oxymoron of big inept government.
so awesome it's supposed to cost $200,000 per new job created. Bravo!
I'd like to meet you, would you text me here is my # 702-518-1753
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