Here we go again, answering to the mindless, one-issue mentality of America’s Main Street. That Main Street that supposedly represents the consensus of what most Americans think. Or, some might argue, what the media persist the issue to be in the minds of many, if not most, Americans. And since that Republican fellow (Scott Brown) was elected to represent Massachusetts in the US Senate… to dare sit on that chair occupied for almost half a century by Ted Kennedy, the issue has become jobs, jobs and nothing but jobs. The lack of them, that is!
How simplistic can we get! Now we have just added to our collection of dirty four-letter words one more: jobs. We get simpler by the minute in America, and always define our politics, our candidates, and the national problem-du-jour by some catchy slogan as if to confirm the brevity of our attention span. Those of us who have been around for two generations or longer still harbor in our political repertoire phrases like, “where is the beef?,” or “it’s the economy, stupid!” Now we’re ready to add, “jobs, jobs, jobs!”
No sooner was Barack Obama done with his State of the Union Address last Wednesday, January 27th, that his presidential “citizens’ relations” group at the White House was at the political-ready to ship this likable, intelligent and very articulate president on a Promissory-Jobs’ tour. A trip to tell that multi-defined independent voter that he, the elected Executive-for-Change, is well aware of America’s greatest need: jobs, jobs and more jobs. Again, just as it has been the case in the past with every Tom, Dick and Harry politician, and that includes all former presidents, reality at the polls must be acknowledged, even if superficially, to placate the citizenry and work on their malleability before the next election.
But, will the president have the guts to tell the American people the ugly truth, that even that 10 percent unemployment, 1 in 10, is a misleading and fictitious figure showing us only the scab, and not the pus-infected employment wound? That we could presently have 20 percent, 2 in 10, or more of the potential American workforce unemployed, underemployed or simply discouraged to try entering or reentering the occupational realm? Not likely, for truth dispensed these days by daring politicians is correctly judged as political suicide. Yet, jobs in America are, in another dirty four-letter word, gone, gone, and gone.
Gone are those well-paying jobs that gave Americans not just decent purchasing power, but also provided them membership in a “middle class,” and the additional remuneration represented by both self-respect and pride. For that, we have the last four presidents (Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II) to thank; four leaders who acquiesced without any challenge to the capitalist forces of globalization, allowing the nation’s industrial base to be scuttled. Permitting that to be done without a clue in their part, or a plan in place, as to how the nation would need to adjust to the new economy, or the infrastructural damage that might take place by adopting an untested sub-system with many unaccounted for economic, political and social variables.
Gone are those lavishly-remunerated jobs, mostly commission-based, requiring little skill or effort from paper shufflers and charlatanic dream-makers; most of them associated with real estate, commercial as well as residential, sellers and financers of bricks priced as if made of gold, often misrepresenting or lying as they played to a key human frailty: greed. Also gone as a result of that obscene balloon, are over a half-million construction jobs which built what wasn’t needed to feed that cancerous greed.
Gone are the jobs that catered to an inflated economy and a nation overspent that went on, unrestrained, for years because of unwarranted easy credit promulgated by the trio of blind mice (government, business and the Fed) and the wild idea deeply inculcated by advocates of an unregulated capitalist system – the supreme mythical belief that it is Americans’ god-given right to be, or become with the snap of a finger, rich. So not only sales in major items, such as cars, have plummeted but consumption in general – of both products and services – has logically decreased even with the government providing fixes to an over-consumption addicted population, a few of them in the form of economic stimuli, the bulk of them as a windfall to those in our society least deserving.
It’s beginning to look as if Obama’s advisers are pushing him into the economic whirlwind which sucked his four White House predecessors, responding to the realities confronting the US with political promises he will fail to deliver, even if irresponsibly permitting the national debt to increase another trillion or two in grossly inefficient job creation. By applying Okun’s econometric formula of almost five decades ago linking economic activity with unemployment, optimistic for today’s American economy under the globalization specter, it will take from 5 to 10 years before unemployment is halved… with underemployment actually getting worse due to globalization and the continuing erosion of the still-existing “good jobs.”
The sad reality confronting the popular clamor of “jobs, jobs and jobs” can only be answered with the appropriate response: “gone, gone and gone.” Perhaps we need to come up with a more valid political phrase: “It’s our unregulated capitalism, stupid!”
© 2010 Ben Tanosborn
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