B12 Solipsism

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A Jobs Program In America

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Restorative Harmony
Restorative Harmony

If only our politicians were as brave and bold as Franklin Roosevelt…I wouldn’t hold my breath

Bob Herbert writes:

Politicians have given little more than lip service to this terrible turn of events. If there was but one message that I would try to get through to the nation’s leadership, it is that we cannot begin to get the United States back on track until we begin to put our people back to work.

And there is so much work to be done. Start with the crying need to rebuild the nation’s aging, deteriorating infrastructure – its bridges and highways, airports and air traffic control systems, its sewer and wastewater treatment facilities, the electrical grid, inland waterways, public transportation systems, levees and floodwalls and ports and dams, and on and on. Lawrence Summers, until recently President Obama’s top economic adviser, has pointed out that 75 percent of America’s public schools have structural deficiencies. Twelve percent of the nation’s bridges have been rated structurally deficient and another 15 percent are functionally obsolete.

Three to four trillion dollars worth of improvements will be needed over the next decade just to bring the infrastructure into a reasonable state of repair. Meanwhile, we’ve got legions of unemployed construction workers, manufacturing workers, engineers and others who are ready and eager to step into the breach, to take on jobs ranging from infrastructure maintenance and repair to infrastructure design and new construction. It shouldn’t require a genius to put together those two gigantic pieces of America’s economic puzzle – infrastructure and unemployment.

Yes, it would be expensive. But the money spent  would be an investment designed to bring about a stronger, more stable economic environment. Putting people to work bolsters the economy and the newly-employed workers begin paying taxes again. Improving the infrastructure would make American industry much more competitive overall, and would spawn new industries. Creation of a national infrastructure bank that would use government funds to leverage additional investments from the private sector to finance projects of national importance would lead to extraordinary longterm benefits.

But even rebuilding the infrastructure is not enough. The employment crisis facing the U.S. is enormous and is taking a particularly harsh toll on the less well-educated members of the society. We need to take our cue from Franklin Roosevelt who understood during the Depression that nothing short of a federal jobs program was essential. The two-pronged goal was to alleviate the suffering of the unemployed and, as the workers began spending their wages, improve the economy.

Roosevelt put millions of Americans to work, including artists, writers, photographers and musicians. It was an unprecedented undertaking, and it worked.

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Broken History

Broken History

and meanwhile, the GOP’s prescription for creating jobs is laughable. Laughable if this wasn’t my country we are talking about. But we are discussing the US, so the joke isn’t very funny.

The Republicans think these things will be useful: destroying unions, more free trade agreements, lowering business taxes even lower, repealing EPA and other regulations, and cutting the minimum wage. If you think any of these policy ideas are going to jump-start our anemic economy, I have a beautiful bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Sarah Jaffe reports at Alternet:

Washington, nearly a year after the 2010 election that was supposedly all about jobs, finally seems to have woken up to the fact that the economy is still in the dumps and Americans are sort of angry about it. Make that very angry. And with Republicans in charge of at least part of Congress as well as many state governments, they know they’re about to take some of the blame for the continuing lack of any policy ideas on job creation–recent polls show only 24 percent of the country approves of how they’re doing their jobs. Not to mention the GOP primary field is loaded with contenders claiming they have the magic solution to the jobs problem.

So what is this masterful GOP jobs agenda? You won’t be shocked to hear that it’s more of the same—more deregulation, more tax cuts, more whining about deficits. “House Republicans are planning votes for almost every week this fall in an effort to repeal environmental and labor requirements on business that they say have hampered job growth,” says the Washington Post. But since you’re about to be hearing these same ideas, with minor variations, over and over again, we thought we’d count down the five worst ideas, and arm you with some reasons why they’re so very bad.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 4th, 2011 at 8:46 am

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