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Hey, here's a radical idea: How about we actual do something to put, oh, about 3 million of our unemployed people back to work?

I'm not talking about new trade agreements or greasing the patent process. I mean actually doing something like creating jobs.

Now that the Very Serious People have beaten the deficit issue to death and left the world's economy teetering on the brink, how 'bout we give common sense a try? Cuz you know, maybe contractionary policies aren't expansionary, after all.

Yeah, I know. There's the little problem of dealing with Congress, and probably with more than a few folks associated with the White House. That's why we need to keep the argument short and sweet.

I'll sum it up in one sentence below the doohickey:

Create a national jobs program by simply returning tax rates on the wealthy to somewhere near where they were in the '60s.

A while back, Robert Reich wrote:

If the rich were taxed at the same rates they were half a century ago, they’d be paying in over $350 billion more this year alone ...

$350 billion. A year.

If half that amount was used to fund jobs, at an average expense of $60,000 per job (including payroll taxes, benefits, workman's comp, etc.) you could create more than 2.9 million jobs. Use the other $175 billion to purchase materials.

And what do you have these newly employed people do? How about a national solar power initiative? (Or wind power; I ain't picky.) So at the same time we're putting people back to work and fueling the national aggregate demand to keep the economy from going into freefall, we're decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels.

It's a stark choice: Raise taxes on the richest Americans and put 3 million less-fortunate Americans back to work. The rich still get to be rich, and our unemployment level drops below 7% for the first time in nearly three years.

Or ... take your chances with the status quo.

In a real democracy, you can guess what the logical choice would be. In today's America, I'm afraid you know how far a proposal like this would go. Could it even find a single sponsor in both houses of Congress?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    "The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." -- Bob Dylan

    by nonprofit jim on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 09:49:12 PM PDT

  •  You want to hire 3 million people (0+ / 0-)

    to install solar panels? I don't know man. That sounds like a lot.

    Don't tell me what you believe. And don't tell me what you do. I barely know you.

    by doc2 on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 09:56:18 PM PDT

    •  Not really. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, nonprofit jim, Got a Grip

      Delivery and forklift drivers, installers for the actual panels themselves, electricians for the wiring, carpenters....

      Multiply that by 50 states and 3 million doesn't sound like quite so much.  Especially when you add in dispatch and schedulers, researchers for new panel types, cleanroom techs to build the panels, IT support staff for all of the offices involved.... the list goes on.

      •  50 states? I don't think solar panels (0+ / 0-)

        make sense in some of the northern states. You need to have a certain level of intensity of sunlight. Anyhow, who would these people work for, the federal government? And the panels themselves would be free to the homeowners? I'm not sure I see what this would look like, have you thought through all these things?

        Don't tell me what you believe. And don't tell me what you do. I barely know you.

        by doc2 on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:05:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, southern Minnesota (3+ / 0-)

          has about the same solar resources as Jacksonville, Fla.

          The extreme north might be dicey, but for well over 90% of the continental U.S. solar is a strong alternative.

          And remember, solar panels function more efficiently in cooler weather.

          "The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." -- Bob Dylan

          by nonprofit jim on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:10:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  They make decent supplemental.... (0+ / 0-)

          ....power.  You can't run baseload on them, no.

          •  I don't think solar (0+ / 0-)

            has to completely replace other forms of power to be effective.

            If an additional 20% to 30% of our electricity could be generated by solar, wouldn't it be worth the investment?

            And a higher percentage will be attainable as technology advances.

            But again, the main point I'm trying to make is that a national jobs program is attainable and affordable. It appears I muddied the waters considerably by mentioning solar.

            "The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." -- Bob Dylan

            by nonprofit jim on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:19:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The problem is..... (0+ / 0-)

              ...that it requires an enormous amount of energy to make the damned things in the first place.

              •  But I think that is the problem. (5+ / 0-)

                We don't have the will to do much in this country anymore. During WWII we built 7 million trucks, 9 aircraft carriers, a bomber a day, 22 battleships, and that was done in a few short years with many of the the working age men overseas fighting a war. We just did it. I don't buy we couldn't do something like that with a jobs program. I just don't buy it.

                When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

                by webranding on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:25:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well said, web (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Got a Grip, Roger Fox, LaughingPlanet

                  I just remarked in a conversation today: "What the hell happened to America? We used to be a country that figured out how to do things and then got it done."

                  Today ...?

                  What was JFK's line? Something like, "We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are difficult."

                  "The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." -- Bob Dylan

                  by nonprofit jim on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:35:48 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  More than 18 carriers commissioned in 1943 alone (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  nonprofit jim

                  6 fleet, 5 light fleet and 7 escort carriers. All brand new, all showed up for the Gilbert Islands invasion Oct 1943.

                  Over 10,000 P-38 lightnings. I know that at the end of the war we had about 150 subs. And had built 200 surface ships from 1938 onward.

                  FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                  by Roger Fox on Mon Aug 22, 2011 at 12:38:47 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Now wait a minute, CW (0+ / 0-)

                I've never heard anyone argue that solar panels are not energy efficient because of the energy required to make the panels.

                Most panels are rated to perform for 25-30 years, putting out power every single day. The only real energy-intensive step of the entire manufacturing process is in the production of the crystals. Actually assembling the panels can be a fairly low-energy process.

                At least that's my understanding. If I'm wrong, I won't mind being corrected.

                "The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." -- Bob Dylan

                by nonprofit jim on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:32:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Refining silicon.... (0+ / 0-)

                  ....and photolithography both take energy, and a lot of it.  Remember that a PV cell is essentially a crude microchip, physically speaking.  Circuitry etched into doped silicon.

                  •  Yep, but (0+ / 0-)

                    like I said, it produces clean energy for decades.

                    I can easily believe something like ethanol can be a bad tradeoff (or no tradeoff at all). Solar ... not so much.

                    If you discount solar, what's the alernative? Coal? Nuclear?

                    Not trying to be abrasive here. I've just never heard anyone argue that solar is not a strong net positive.

                    "The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." -- Bob Dylan

                    by nonprofit jim on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:47:21 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  You pay 40k, and gross 220k over 30 years. (0+ / 0-)

                with a roof top install. That energy is represented in the purchase price. And at 36 to 39% efficient, they pay back great and are terrific peak power.

                Solar alone will force a drop in the price paid for peak power in 10 years.

                FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                by Roger Fox on Mon Aug 22, 2011 at 12:52:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I'll be finding out if that is true or not. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WheninRome, a gilas girl

            My sister and I are building what is basically two houses and an attached greenhouse on the old family farm so she can retire and I can caretake for her (so semi-disabled.)  The houses are underground with light tubes to provide light through out the house during the day and LED light and low energy lighting at night.  We won't need air conditioning because the homes are underground, we won't need heat beyond supplemental high-efficiency fireplaces for the same reason, including the greenhouse in winter.  All our water will be rain water connected in a cistern with a distilling filter, our gray water will be recycled for use in toilets and garden watering.  We will have a solar water heater and will be gravity-fed with a new-fangled windmill to supplement.  The kitchen stove will use natural gas as that is all that is available to me at this time.  Any other appliances will be as energy efficient as we can possibly get.  So far estimates based on average sunlight suggest that we'll be selling back electricity to the utilities.  

            So we shall see.

            "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

            by Got a Grip on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:21:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  NJ, sure. (0+ / 0-)

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Mon Aug 22, 2011 at 12:31:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I Had A Thought The Other Day (3+ / 0-)

        Why not install solar panels on every public school. As they start to generate power they start to pay the government back in what they would have paid for said power if bought from a local utility. The government gets their money back and the school, eventually has an additional revenue stream.

        When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

        by webranding on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:06:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not to mention (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cassandracarolina

        just building the damn panels.

        I read the other day that in the '90s, America had about 47% of the solar industry. Today it's around 4%.

        I'm quoting from memory, so I'll have to run the figures down. But America's market share today is disastrously low.

        "The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." -- Bob Dylan

        by nonprofit jim on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:08:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. That is because the Chinese (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cassandracarolina

          government has taken over almost the entire world's production. Their companies, which are basically wards of the state, produce and sell panels at a loss. The largest American panel manufacturer just went bankrupt, as are solar companies around the world. The only way that we can get into the panel business is to do what the Chinese are doing. And that's just not us - we're not a monolithic, totalitarian state. And IMO we shouldn't become one, just to compete in a business. Let them make our panels for now, and we'll take advantage of their low prices and install a zillion of them.

          Don't tell me what you believe. And don't tell me what you do. I barely know you.

          by doc2 on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:12:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm always fascinated (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nonprofit jim, LaughingPlanet

            by those that will come right out of the starting block saying we can't do something like this.  I don't understand this defeatist thought process.  Perhaps an initial glance will suggest that something isn't feasible in its original form.  But that's when the truly visionary should be encouraged to step in and figure out a way that will work.  "Where there's a will there's a way" isn't just a stale bromide, it's the truth.  Thomas Edison labored over making the light bulb work over and over and over again, and when asked about all those failures said something along the lines of "I haven’t failed a thousand times, I just successfully discovered a thousand ways how not to make it."  We used to have that attitude in this country, I'm still stubborn enough to think this way and push through obstacles in the things I do.  What will it take for us all to think that way again?

            "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

            by Got a Grip on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:59:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think it will take (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Got a Grip, LaughingPlanet

              a lot more people who think like you.

              The "Hell, yes!" chorus has to drown out those whose first reaction is to reach for an excuse.

              "The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." -- Bob Dylan

              by nonprofit jim on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:05:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There are a lot of folks (0+ / 0-)

                who were saying "yes we can" in 2008 who didn't mean it, or who meant "well, maybe someone else can."  I'm much more likely to take the bull by the horns and do it myself than to wait for someone else to come along and do it for me.  I quit believing in White Knights showing up to rescue you me sometime back in the '60s.  That was about the time that I learned that if I needed saving I was capable of doing it myself.  There used to be a lot of people like me.  I don't know where they all went, but it's time a new crop of them started pushing as hard as I do to get things done.  Because we can do it, we just have to muster the will.

                "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

                by Got a Grip on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:27:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Buy them (0+ / 0-)

            from China??  That would defeat a major reason for doing this.  Maybe we could hire them with borrowed money to install them too, so that our workers can stand in soup lines all day?  Yikes!

      •  Where will you find material for so many (0+ / 0-)

        panels?

    •  Doesn't have to be (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Got a Grip

      just solar, although I think green energy should be the centerpiece.

      The real point is that there's no reason -- beyond lack of political will -- why there can't be a national jobs program. It doesn't take extraordinarily high taxes to fund the effort. Just the same tax rate on the wealthiest that fueled a more robust, equal America.

      I don't recall a lot of wealthy people being turned into misers by tax rates in the '60s.

      "The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." -- Bob Dylan

      by nonprofit jim on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:03:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How could it not be expensive (0+ / 0-)

        though? To hire 3,000,000 people would require a huge organization with tens of millions of square feet of office space and salaries and benefits adding up to hundreds of billions of dollars per year. That may be worth it, i don't know, but it certainly is a lot of money.

        Don't tell me what you believe. And don't tell me what you do. I barely know you.

        by doc2 on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:09:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  nonprofitjim - do we get the same tax code? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doc2, FG, cassandracarolina

        If we return to 1960 rates do we get back the same tax code where you can shelter all of your earned income with investing activity and take your effective federal rate as low as you want to? Comparing tax rates before the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and those after are comparing apples and oranges. There is no relation of one to the other. Reich knows this, but never mentions it. He is a really smart guy who often misinforms by the selective use of data.  

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:10:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It really is not an apples to apples (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          comparison. People always like to quote how max marginal rates during the 50s were 90%. Forget about the fact the hardly anyone actually paid them.

          Don't tell me what you believe. And don't tell me what you do. I barely know you.

          by doc2 on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:16:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  From the same article: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Got a Grip, Roger Fox, VClib
          During the 1950s, when the top rate was 91 percent, the rich exploited loopholes and deductions that as a practical matter reduced the effective top rate 50 to 60 percent – still substantial by today’s standards.

          I've more often seen a figure of about 45% for the effective tax rate at the time. Regardless ...

          I tried to provide the link in the diary, but failed. Here it is:

          http://www.commondreams.org/...

          "The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." -- Bob Dylan

          by nonprofit jim on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:23:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  70% top rate has about 32 to 35% effective rates (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          90% had about 45% effective rates.

          And that investing was smarter and not so much in speculation.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Mon Aug 22, 2011 at 12:47:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The more solar panels we make, the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nonprofit jim

    cheaper they become. We also need to get a new smart grid going, manufacture transformers because they are all imported now and modernize transmission lines, going underground wherever possible.

  •  At this point I would hire... (0+ / 0-)

    ...the whole frickin' country to just sit there and collect large checks - from new money.  The point being to increase the money supply as much as possible as soon as possible.  Increasing the money supply is even more basic and much faster than creating enough necessary jobs.

    I didn't care for math, but when I first understood the concept of finding the slope of a curve at a point, I wanted to grab the first girl I saw and kiss her with wild abandon, just like in that WW II photo.

    by dov12348 on Mon Aug 22, 2011 at 01:55:36 AM PDT

  •  There is an even simpler way to create twice as (0+ / 0-)

    many jobs.

    Simply reduce the standard work week from 40 hours to 36 hours for all companies employing more than 100 employees and do this with no reduction in pay.

    78 million  of Americas 138 million workers fall into this category and reducing their work week by 10% requires adding an additional 7.8 million workers which would reduce the Unemployment rate to a very health 5.2% without increasing the deficit by a single cent or raising any ones taxes while at the same time it would add some 30 billion dollars in new tax revenue.

    Lets put that one on the table and dare the Tea Party to vote against it.

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