Two more blogs from the Lion:
The last couple of weeks have been spent reading wrap-ups on 2013 and looks forward at 2014. Economists are taking polls about how much the economy will grow...stocks will rise...what bond prices and commodity futures will look like. Pundits are commenting on the civil war in Syria, Iran's nuclear program and whether there can be a peace treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians. China appears to be flexing its muscles and there is a call for a reassessment of America's role in the Middle East and foreign policy in general. Crystal balls are being polished and rubbed as cognoscenti opine on how many cars will be sold, and homes purchased, and big oil companies are pushing to lift the restrictions which prohibit them from exporting domestic oil. (more on that later) We are told Congress has to deal with extending long-term unemployment benefits and food stamps, the military budget and all the appropriation bills. No where, in all the reading I have done, does anyone talk about the elephant in the room...we needs jobs.
There are not enough jobs and the jobs that are available do not pay enough. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard and Poor's 500 hit record highs in 2013 and are projected to continue to rise in 2014. Corporate profits are through the roof. Initial public offerings, like Twitter, are skyrocketing and merger and acquisition activity is more intense than it has been for years. The top 1% of earners have seen their wealth increase year over year as the gap between them and everyone else continues to grow. Yet, where are the jobs? Where are the wages? Where are the benefits for the average, gum-chewing working American?
The new mayor of New York ran on a platform about a tale of two cities. John Edwards tried to do the same thing on a national scale. The mayor succeeded but Edwards failed. Why? Perhaps Edwards was ahead of his time. New polls suggest Americans are finally waking up to the fact some people are doing very well at the expense of everyone else.
Have you read a single piece on what Congress will do to increase jobs? Not one of the agenda items for the 2014 session, as of now, focuses on job creation. President Obama says he will spend the rest of his second term focusing on combating income inequality, but offers no specifics. We are told this whole congressional session will be concentrating on positioning both parties for the mid-term elections in November. Screw the mid-term elections. The party that creates jobs should get everyone's vote and the other suffers the loss of political power.
Anytime in the next 6-8 months you hear a politician speak on a subject, ask yourself what it has to do with creating jobs. Immigration reform? What jobs will it create other than those for border and prison guards? Raising the debt ceiling? How does this create jobs? Reduce the deficit? Show me the jobs it creates. Taxes? If taxes go up on the rich how will this create new jobs? No one should get away with a public appearance without being asked about jobs.
Jobs, as a topic, by necessity also raise questions about wages, benefits, medical coverage, housing costs, day-care access and more. If the Affordable Care Act accomplishes its goal, medical coverage will not be able to held hostage any more for employees. Workers won't have to choose between a raise or an increase in their health insurance premium. If...
IF there is no clear connection, other than trickle-down theories, between deficit reduction and jobs, ignore it. If you get a chance to go to a town hall meeting, or decide to write or tweet or email your representative, the topic should be jobs, what they are doing to create them and why are they wasting their time on anything else?
There are things which could be done right now if we are so inclined. First, create the 2014 versions of the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration) and the C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps). State and federal governments should announce a hiring call. Anyone who wants a job will be hired. (with proper vetting, of course, as we don't want felons and former criminals to be working) This is counterintuitive, but listen. Hire everyone. See how many people you have. Pay them a living wage. (can you imagine the impact on young people if they knew there was a job for them right now?) Give them free passes on mass transit where possible...or give them a bike or scooter. Now start finding things for them to do. Everything from filling in potholes, (which most cities cannot afford to do these days) to cleaning parks or building new ones. No more talk of " shovel ready" projects. Hire and then come up with jobs for them to do. Is there anyone reading this who couldn't come up with 100 needs which could be filled by this workforce? Second, require testing and skills assessment of anyone hired and if remedial education is required then add funding to community colleges for literacy, math skills, writing and anything else considered a priority. Of course, you would need to hire more teachers...oops more jobs. Third, work out a deal with the trade unions. Pay them to expand apprenticeship programs for anyone under 30. Plumbing, electrical, carpentry and other unions could train, and pay while being trained, a whole generation of skilled trade people...(oh btw it is predicted the nation is going to have a huge shortage of such workers over the next 20 years) Pass legislation giving union workers first dibs on new construction and other jobs if their union participates in this idea. Finally, make college free. (at least at state institutions) Offer admissions to anyone who qualifies. Wave their tuition if they enter majors which will add jobs or which will be necessary for future jobs.
This list does not even begin to exhaust all the possibilities. Its purpose is to stimulate more thoughts and perhaps you can come up with more examples of ways to create more jobs. (please !)
The gap between the rich and poor is not what we should worry about. The shrinking middle class should care the hell out of everyone in this nation. We need working Americans. It is the most important national security issue we face (thank you National Security Agency). A strong America can never be defeated by terrorism or international adversaries. America can only be destroyed from within. (something Osama bin Laden realized and proved after September 11th.) If your public leaders are not talking about jobs, they are more traitorous than Edward Snowden and willing to create more fear and hatred than any terrorist.