Something peculiar happened during my most recent hotel stay. Rather than simply telling me for future reference that I can use the computerized kiosk as she checked me in, the desk attendant walked me over to said kiosk, and proceeded to show me and a fellow straggler how to use this machine. She then went back over to her desk to continue doing what she was doing before our arrival. Her actions were clearly inspired by some new organizational protocol mandating that attendants teach guests how to check in or out of a hotel by using these kiosks. What made this instance unique is that since there was no one else available to usher incoming guests to this kiosk and tutor them on how to use it, it essentially took the desk attendant as much time to do all of this as it would have taken to simply check us in herself. Although, this experience ranks far behind a fitful five minutes spent trying to get directions to a hotel, only to realize that the customer service representative I was speaking with was overseas and therefore unable to offer anything beyond the directions available on the website. This combination of outsourcing and new wave self-service hospitality adds to an already uphill climb in this country's attempts as keeping a well balanced and rewarding labor force.
It also explains why presidential candidates are reluctant -- if not articulate -- when it comes to discussing this nation's economic viability. For example, in spite of how much Hillary Clinton cites her penchant for "specifics," or Barack Obama promises to "move beyond the politics of the past," they became embroiled in an economic policy squabble that was neither about specifics nor forward thinking initiatives on labor. NAFTAgate was a return to 90s era bickering that has unfairly been deemed Clintonian in this year's presidential race because of how it relieves republicans, most notably Newt Gingrich, of any culpability for what took place in the 90s.
Similarly, John McCain is as guilty as Hillary Clinton in touting thirty plus years of political inexperience yet being unable to yield one resounding sound bite that succinctly characterizes their economic vision.
All three remaining candidates litter their speeches with allusions to "jobs," "good jobs," and my personal favorite, "jobs that will allow you to put food on the table," but never provide any insight to the nature of these jobs, and the sacrifices and behavior modifications that Americans will have to make in order to create and retain these new jobs.
There has been an appalling lack of discussion about the investments that any of these candidates are willing to make to alleviate America's thirty-year regression in science and math education and the vital role that remedying this situation will potentially play in bridging the gap between the Appalachian Valley and Silicon Valley. Additionally, as Green Consciousness continues erupting in this country politicians have failed to realize that bicycles are the new cars, in the sense that they can offer a similar jolt to national and local economies in the 21st century that car manufacturing did in the 20th century. Thinking creatively about making states such as Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada that are renowned for their moderate climes, but which are unnecessarily congested with cars, can potentially revitalize not only certain segments of this nation's manufacturing sectors, but also an urban planning movement that has become mired in obstinate highways and luxury high rise building projects. Those leery that auto lobbyists will reject any such measures should consider the fact that transportation and spending are as much about habit as they are need. People will not stop buying cars, or buy them at any less of a rate than we are currently purchasing them, we will simply buy them for different reasons.
Finally, if by jobs they mean training home-health care aides and other assisted living professionals to take care of the baby boomers, then they need to explicitly say so, in order to insure that people are properly trained before entering these professions and to avoid sagging post boomer generations with mounting healthcare costs in order to underwrite malpractice and abuse claims against senior citizens homes.
In other words, now that we know this primary season will at least go through April, and with reports indicating that job growth has stalled, Clinton, McCain and Obama may as well get down from their podiums and out from behind their advisors--even if like that hotel clerk in Philly--it may not necessarily serve them well in the long run.