I'm still getting used to the idea that I can read about something the president has done and actually agree with it. For the last eight years a more common reaction has been to shake my head or re-read something in disbelief. Now, I'm coming across articles and saying, "Yeah, I agree with that. I've thought that for years." I guess that's the advantage of having your preferred candidate in the White House.
The reason I mention it is that last Friday Obama announced a new plan for unemployment benefits that would allow people to continue to collect benefits as they enroll in educational and training programs. Under the old system, a person collecting unemployment had to be actively looking for work.
Don't get me wrong. I think the old plan made a lot of sense too. I don't think we should be in the business of helping people who aren't helping themselves. However, now we're acknowledging that there is more than one way that people can help themselves.
As Obama said, "In a 21st-century economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, education is the single best bet we can make." Amen to that.
Allowing people to increase their education and build their skill base is more likely to benefit them in the long term them keeping them in a never-ending cycle of dead end, low skill, low pay jobs. By investing in education - even at this relatively late point in people's lives - we are increasing the odds that individuals will be able to break out of the cycle of poverty that captures individuals, families, and generations. Certainly it's not a cure-all, but it sure is a good step.