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Carl Davidson's 'Keep on Keepin' On' Commentaries

Yes, We Need a Jobs Program, But One
That Doesn't Tinker Around the Edges

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin' On

Our regional daily newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, to its credit, came out with an editorial today, Aug. 22, 2011, urging President Obama to push for a substantial jobs program over Republican opposition.

"Action on jobs: Obama must push hard to get people back to work" is the headline, and a key point stresses "Mr. Obama now needs to offer proposals equal to the size of the problem. That means bold strokes, not half-measures. If his Republican antagonists in Congress are determined to stand in the way of getting Americans back to work, the president must say so publicly -- and then go over their heads to enlist the nation in his effort."

Terrific, a good framing of the question. Unfortunately, however, once you get into the substance of the piece, it turns into a muddle. The Post-Gazette offers up a hodgepodge of proposals that tinker around the edges of the problem-more tax cuts and credits for jobs created, more unemployment benefits, and oddly, more trade deals, even though these deals mostly result in net job losses.

Here's the heart of the matter. In a down economy, jobs are created by increasing demand, by more customers with bigger orders coming to a firm's doors. The problem is that consumer demand has taken a nose dive when the credit bubble burst. People don't have money to spend. They're cutting back on everything, and trying to unload their debt. This means business-to-business orders shrink as well. Companies may be cash-rich and have high profits, but with no increase in orders or customers at their door, they aren't likely to hire people to do nothing just to get a tax credit.

This is where government has to become the key customer. It has to make huge productive purchases for local work and local materials to build productive infrastructure-county-owned green energy plants, new and improved schools, modernized locks and dams, Medicare for all, investment in young students and veterans like we did with the GI Bill, investment in research in new industries, and so on.

Most important, to work well, it can't be nickel-and-dimed to death. It has to be on the scale of the expenditures for World War 2. That's when the 'multiplier effect' can kick in, and related growth in manufacturing can take off in turn. And it has to be paid for by going to where the most appropriate money is, imposing a financial transaction tax on unproductive and destabilizing speculation by Wall Street.

The best the P-G does on this matter is to support Obama's proposal for an 'Infrastructure Bank,' but urges him to find a way to bypass a GOP roadblock in Congress.

But even that is too passive. It says, in effect, here's a small pot of money. If you want to repair some roads, come and get some.

What we really need is something like the New Deal's Tennessee Valley Authority and Works Progress Administration, but on steroids, a TVA-WPA-CCC 2.0. We need to pass John Conyer's HR 870 Full employment Bill. We need the Dept. of Energy and the Dept. of Labor to go to every county in the country with a fully funded proposal to build new green energy wind farms and solar power arrays as public energy utilities, hiring local workers at union scale, with no obstacles to a union election. And that's just for starters.

Yes, we need a serious jobs program. But it's time for everyone who utters that phrase to get serious themselves. Why? Because it's going to take a massive upsurge in class struggle to get it by removing those standing in the way.

[Carl Davidson is a Steelworker Associate and a retired computer technician living in Beaver County.  His 'Keep On Keepin' On' column appears in Beaver County Blue, website of the 4th CD Progressive Democrats of America.]

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    •  I am concerned of just what will come out of DC. (0+ / 0-)

      This is an administration that plays the policy game way to conservatively, and hedges their bets on the political wind.  With the election coming up in a short time, the strategy of "nothing to radical lest we can't get it passed by the Bi-Partisan House", and not addressing the issue in a major fashion just might give us all heartburn come November 2012..... Whoever the Republicans nominate.

      My optimistic reservoir of "Hope and Change" was depleted some time back.

      "You can't always get what you want; but if you try sometimes...." - Rolling Stones

      by LamontCranston on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 10:11:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We don't need to increase demand (0+ / 0-)

    Especially, artificially creating demand by the federal government pouring money into the economy.  We tried that already.. stimulus?  It didn't work.  Or, it doesn't work for very long.

    That's a very myopic look at the economy.

    There is plenty of demand.  The problem is, there is demand for goods not made in the USA.  Make all the crap you see at Home Depot and Lowes right here in the USA, and you won't need a jobs program.

    We have forgotten what it is to be competitive.  To be competitive for the the manufacture of the very goods we buy day in and day out.

    We have lost control of dozens of industries almost to the point that we cannot ever get them back.  Some of these are high tech, high paying industries we have ceded to the Chinese and Koreans.  Some are manufacturing jobs that should have never left our shores.  Americans can't make a refirigerator that retails for $1500 on a competitive basis with LG or Samsung?  WTF?  That's ridiculous.

    We need a president who recognizes these facts and pushes to bring those industries back to the US - with jobs for Americans.

    •  No, we tried a wimpy half-assed stimulus... (0+ / 0-)

      ...and it didn't do very well.

      First, we gave half of it always as more tax credits to the super-rich

      Second, we extended unemployment benefits so people could pay down their VISA and still shop at Walmart, ie we created demand for jobs in China

      Third, we refused to do the infrastructure building on a huge scale for green and clean energy, that would have put people to work here using materials made here. Why? Because in might upset 'free trade.'

      So of course 'the stimulus failed'. The GOP stole half of it, and nickel and diimed the rest of it to death.

      Proved to fail?  Nice try, but no cigar.

  •  More stability looking forward (0+ / 0-)

    Paul of Arakis: "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when my fear is gone I will turn and face fear's path, and only I will remain."

    Business, mom&pop to corporations are frozen by uncertainty.  Families and individuals see there 401k's and monthly budgets being squeezed from all sides.  Crap, I'm trying to sell my house and no one even looks at it.

    The WH and Congress (yes all of them) need to quit the posturing for perceived political advantage, nibbling around the edges and just do the job they were elected to do.  By many estimates there is over $2 trillion in cash being sat on by businesses for no other reason than to provide for some surety into the future because no one has any idea where the heck this country and its politicians are taking us.  Oh yeah, I need a job too....

    Policy without results is no policy at all.  We dems used to be much better about this.  

    Let's face the fear and get something done...

    Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

    by EdMass on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 10:46:56 AM PDT

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