At long last President Obama has pivoted to “work opportunities.” The only negative side of this initiative is that “work opportunities” don’t necessarily pay.

The Hill newspaper reports:

President Obama on Thursday will unveil a summer-jobs initiative that the White House says is already on track to create 180,000 “work opportunities” in the private sector in 2012.

That is the number of opportunities, which includes mentoring and unpaid internships, that companies have told the administration they are willing to create. Some 70,000 jobs are paid, the White House says.

Well, I don’t mean to carp, but if I were a kid looking for summer work to help me defray college costs or put a little money in my pocket, I think I’d prefer a—you know— job. "Work opportunities" are fine for kids who can draw on the Bank of Mom and Dad. Not so much for, say, an inner-city kid working his way through college.

But the White House is enthusiastic:

“Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of executive actions the Obama administration is taking to strengthen the economy and move the country forward because we can’t wait for Congress to act,” a White House statement reads.

It is nice of the government to introduce 110,000 young people to volunteer work. But I can’t imagine how it is going to help the economy. Oh, but there will be a jobs bank! Goody! I hope there will be a 1-800 number! This is sounding so good that I’m beginning to think it would be greedy to want to be paid!

This “work opportunities” opportunity (I love the name of the program) was created after Congress failed to approve a $1.5 billion summer jobs program. In the jaundiced view of those of us who believe in creating jobs rather than jobs programs, Congress is to be commended. The administration disagrees:   

“The president has been clear that where there is gridlock with this Congress, he will act,” [Labor Secretary Hilda Solis] said. She noted that the unemployment level among those aged 16 to 24 is 16 percent, far higher than the 10.7 percent in 2007 before the recession began.

Here is the takeaway from Ms. Solis’s remark: Unemployment is higher now among 16 to 24-year-olds that it was when George W. Mordor was president.

To solve this problem, we need jobs—not “work opportunities.”