Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Our Priorities are SNAFU

Well, well, well, in the middle of all the hysteria and hoo-hah about raising the debt limit ceiling, we hear that the HSBC banking group is planning to lay-off 30,000 employees....and what do you think happened to their stock? Why, it went up 4 percent, of course. If that doesn't tell you that Wall Street and Main Street have very different visions, I don't know what would.

To me, average American in a red state small town, that is the single most telling statistic in all the tsunami of political information we've been subject to in the last few weeks. People like me sit here and watch the disappointing job figures, the continued high unemployment rate (actual rate = 20 percent - not the 9 something the official figures say it is) and feel despair about what Wall Street celebrates.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle love the phrase - "the American people want...." which they then follow with what they want. But I believe that what the American people want is jobs, something that appears far down on the priority list of most of our representatives. Some of whom want debt reduction; some want no new tax increases; some want more revenues; some want less government spending; some want to protect the poor and elderly. Oddly enough, the one thing that would give them all what they desire is putting Americans back to work.

More workers means more tax revenues even without raising taxes, thus improving the deficit. Higher employment means more consumers so sellers would sell more and also pay more taxes in a cycle of improving fortunes for everyone. An expanding work force would mean less government spending on social welfare programs, freeing more dollars to go toward the hard-core poor and the elderly.

It seems to me that our first priority at the start of this recession should have been a mega-jobs program,  jumpstarted by federal dollars. Not only would it have provided paychecks, it would have meant desperately needed improvements to our infrastructure as well. (Unless we just enjoy the entertaining spectacle of bridges collapsing beneath us, of course). The initial salaries would be spent to buy houses and cars and refrigerators and go on vacations, thus causing contractors and car manufacturers and refrigerator producers and hotels and restaurants and airlines to take on new employees themselves, adding more salaries to the economy.

And if we want to give tax breaks to corporations, it should be in the form of rebates for every job they add to their payroll (in America, that is) along with other creative incentives for increasing their workforce.

All this seems so elementary that I figure there must be personal for-profit reasons that our representatives don't want to do it. Maybe we should form a working people lobby and pay them off like the big pharmaceuticals and insurance companies and banks do.

To be fair, some of our politicians did speak out for job creation policies but they were in the minority. A jobs program as a way back from recession never even came close to making the cut. First, we had to rush in and spend billions to save the banks, then we switched to deciding that the deficit was The Issue. Thank you, Tea Party. How fucking short-sighted can you be?

The plan that now looks as though it will pass (at this writing, the House has passed it and it seems a foregone conclusion that the Senate will do the same) will do nothing for unemployment. If anything, it will make it worse....which will mean more people on welfare, on medicaid, not spending on consumer goods, losing their houses, not being able to send their kids to college, not going on vacation. And when the Super-Committee is named and starts looking to wrench more deficit reduction out of the economy, they will include the military, and what do you want to bet those cuts will be mostly in the area of personnel and not the pet programs in the districts of our congressional representatives. So then the ex-soldiers will be added to the unemployment rolls too.

I was a Hillary supporter during the primaries because I wanted a warrior for my president and I thought she would be one. I guess we'll never know about that (although her courage about speaking out as Secretary of State indicates that I was right) but we do know for sure that while Barack Obama may have a lot of good qualities, a warrior he is not. And so we end up with this pathetic piece of legislation that won't do a thing for the American working class....but, hell, we should be used to that by now.

And, meanwhile, I guess Wall Street will see more companies shedding workers and rejoice.