Saturday, July 10, 2010

It's Jobs and then it's Jobs and after that it's Jobs

Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation's total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the circle of prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America's total annual income. But after that, inequality began to widen again, and income re-concentrated at the top. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928—with 23.5 percent of the total.

Each of America's two biggest economic crashes occurred in the year immediately following these twin peaks—in 1929 and 2008. This is no mere coincidence. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don't have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing.

Robert Reich, The Nation, July, 2010 

 The first task is to rebuild our industrial commons. We should develop a system of financial incentives: Levy an extra tax on the product of off-shored labor. (If the result is a trade war, treat it like other wars—fight to win.) Keep that money separate. Deposit it in the coffers of what we might call the Scaling Bank of the U.S. and make these sums available to companies that will scale their American operations. Such a system would be a daily reminder that while pursuing our company goals, all of us in business have a responsibility to maintain the industrial base on which we depend and the society whose adaptability—and stability—we may have taken for granted.
 Andy Grove, How America Can Create Jobs

Despite all the perks we've been giving to corporate America, it's not at all clear that the private sector will ever again create enough decent jobs to support a middle class society in this country. Right now the economy is supposedly growing, but employment isn't. So what is growing? Well, the obscene bonuses and pay packages of corporate America and Wall Street --- the only growth that counts for our financial elites.
We're at a critical point in the jobs crisis. Nearly 30 million of us don't have jobs or have been forced into part-time jobs. It's not like there's no work to do. We have millions and millions of kids to educate. We desperately need to slash our energy use--and with an army of workers, we could weatherize every home and business in the country. Our bridges and roads will take decades to repair. We need to build an entire national system of efficient public transit.
When Wall Street is in trouble, we come to the rescue with trillions in bailouts. We've poured hundreds of billions more into two wars. But when it comes to investing in our people to get needed work done, we can't seem to summon the will or find the cash.
 Les Leopold, Why All the Idiocy about Unemployment?

The consensus, no matter who says it and why, is that American manufacturing industries are no longer of Americans, by Americans, or even for Americans.  It's beyond a worrisome rumor, it's an established fact:  American manufacturing, compared to manufacturing world-wide, fills a niche no bigger than the size of an ant farm box.

Let's face it, the people in charge of keeping Americans working are not just incompetent or oblivious, they're the next best thing to the enemy.  The public sector is beyond just aiding and abetting the private sector, they're right down in the trenches with them.  Such a cacophony from Big Money, from the Right Wing, from  the keepers of the status quo.  Who could blame the people in charge for lending them an ear?

You kidding?  We could!  We should!  A whole lot of us DO!

A vast army of domestic terrorists bamboozled us, flimflammed us, fleeced us and left most of us bound and gagged, yet, incredibly, some truly wacky others are still begging for more.  Millions of real people are out of work, yet there are still millions of people (some of whom also fit into that out-of-work category) who can actually say the words "out-sourcing" and "off-shoring" without gagging or even flinching.  Many of them sip tea while repeating the words they've been brainwashed by the terrorists-in-gray-flannel-suits into saying:  "We don't want no stinkin' government in our lives".

Well, yes--we do.  We want a government that looks like a New Deal, acts like a New Deal, and actually IS a New Deal.  We want a works program.  We want a PWA, a WPA, a CCC.   We want a jumpstart because we're in serious trouble, I mean Trouble, that's Trouble with a capital T.

We need a Harry Hopkins, a powerful social worker for the masses, someone who cares more about people than about bottom lines.  Someone who won't stop talking, no matter who is trying to do the muzzling.  ( I see Elizabeth Warren in that role.)

We need a dedicated labor advocate.  I nominate Robert Reich.  (See above.)

We need an Eleanor Roosevelt, a conscientious, eloquent reformer who can  work with a cabinet bombarded on all sides by naysayers, greed-meisters, and relief-haters.  Michelle Obama could grow into it--she has the brains, the guts, the heart.  And who better than Michelle to convince her husband he needs to be our FDR?

Oh, and by the way:  We need to tax the hell out of the filthy rich and make them pay.  Then we need to spend what they're forced to fork over on social programs and American outlets for gainful employment.

Tax and spend, that's the ticket.  (Note that I can say that without even once gagging or flinching.)   This is an emergency.  Business as usual is not an option when the country is in crisis.  Rapid response is required.  Set up the triage teams and give them their assignments in this order:

1. Jobs
2. Jobs
3. Jobs.

And remind anyone who objects to the methods of care that we're in the midst of an emergency and they need to shut the hell up.



  1. Wonderful as always, Ramona. A leader who will show some backbone and stand up to the politicians who are blocking every attempt to equalize the wealth a little bit in this country. You are absolutely right about that. It's not profits that hurt us, it's greed. It's the need to make more profits than our people can bare, and at any cost, no matter what. The Environment! Our health! Our economy! Our spirit! Our education! Everything is up for sale so that big business can make a profit. And when we're spend and useless as a society, they'll move on to India and China. They will make those people slaves to the same additions we suffer from in the US, and rape those people of their environment, education, economy, and spirit. We need someone to just say, the buck stops here. Now.

  2. Ramona, I like your plan, but I'm sure that is no surprise to you. I wrote a piece a few days ago, and in that piece touched on some of the same sentiment you have outlines here. We desperately need something similar to the New Deal and we do need visionaries to lead the way, visionaries who are willing to reform much of what we have built over the past fifty years. It may not be a popular sentiment, but it is what we need.

  3. Hi Stan, Hi Kyle; Sorry to be so late getting back to you. I wish with all my heart that we could get that New Deal message out there and get it working. I don't know how we survive without it. A big part of the New Deal was getting the formerly greedy corporations to go along. Without their cooperation, nothing would have been done. The difference today is, as Stan said, it's not in their best interests to try and save the country from the ravages they themselves created (with the help of an unbelievably cooperative government). Their interests are their bottom lines, their profits, and we're just a comfy cushion. The rest of the world is their oyster. We can't appeal to their loyalties or their better natures because they don't exist. The only thing we can do is work on reform and get us to the point we're they're not all-powerful--where they don't own us. In fact, if life was at its fairest, they wouldn't just be hobbled,they would be in prison. All of them.


    (Kyle, I'm running late this AM but when I get a chance I'll head over to read your post. Can you email me the link? ramonasvoices at gmail dot com.)

  4. Those who have the power use it and abuse it. This is why these corporations are getting away with murder. They know that they have enough strength to keep the status quo of fear and mediocrity to their benefit. Unfortunately Obama strategy to gain political consensus through bipartisanship has produced exactly the opposite to his intent, more polarization than anything else. He forgot to understand that conservatives are more racist that he gave them credits during his election. He alienated a great majority of the liberal force that worked hard for his campaign and he had very little idea that the Nation and the Government that he inherited was so “F*cked Up.”
    Now he is looking at another Bush moving in to the oval office in 2012. I really hope he step up his game and start gathering support from the working class, by more effectively denouncing the cronies in Washington that are sleeping with the enemy of the nation.

  5. Thanks Ramona... this was a terrific piece. I'm sorry I took so long linking it to Under The LobsterScope/


  6. Hi Bill, thanks so much for highlighting this post over on your always interesting website. Much appreciated.

    Hey everybody, check out Under the Lobsterscope:

  7. And Lelo, your comment is right on. They're saying today that Obama has finally given up on any notion of bipartisanship. We can only hope. . .


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