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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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A Right-wing Jobs Program for America


Here's the core economic problem we're facing today: Unemployment and underemployment are rampant and entrenched throughout America, stifling any hope for real recovery and threatening the very survival of the essential middle class that holds our society together.

The solution? Our ideologically pure, laissez-fairyland leaders in Washington and various state capitals, along with corporate funded think tank geniuses and Wall Street gurus, are pushing a massive jobs program across America. Great, just what we need! Uh ... no. Unfortunately, theirs is not a program to create jobs, but a coordinated effort to add to America's jobless hordes by eliminating hundreds of thousands of public-service jobs. If ignorance is bliss, they must be ecstatic!

They're wallowing in the ecstatic right-wing mythology that prosperity will magically arise if only government budgets can be gutted, mainly by eliminating public employees. Yet, by going on a firing rampage that is targeting everyone from school librarians to NASA engineers, these political and economic elites are shoving the entire U.S. economy back into the Great Recession, or worse.

This is because people who are out of work do not tend to be — how shall I put this? — "robust consumers." Since consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of our country's economic growth (and, in so doing, creates America's jobs), the dogma of deliberately destroying the purchasing power of middle-class wage earners is disastrous. It's like trying to cure a headache by chopping off your head.

Not content to undercut middle-class consumers by firing them, the extremist ideologues are also slashing jobless payments, food stamps, Medicaid and other safety-net programs that put money directly and quickly into the consumer economy as recipients spend for food, gas and other basics. Cutbacks in these benefits will drain some $37 billion more out of consumer spending this year.

As the middle class slides backward, people are going to be hunting these ideologues with dogs.

But don't despair entirely, jobseekers, for if you're among the millions of long-term unemployed Americans who've been searching in vain for work, I have a hot tip for you: They're hiring in Wisconsin!

There is one little catch, though. You have to be a Wisconsin jailbird to get one of these dandy jobs. But that's no hill for a climber — I'm sure America has plenty of out-of-work folks who're enterprising enough to move to the Badger State, steal a six pack from a 7-Eleven, go to jail and — voila! — become eligible. I should mention, however, that you won't get paid for these jobs.

This so-called "work opportunity" is the first tangible product of Gov. Scott Walker's corporate-scripted mugging of the collective bargaining rights of teachers and other civil servants. He and his legislative cohorts rammed a bill into law this year to strip public employees of their democratic rights in the workplace. So, government managers can now replace them willy-nilly with low-wage workers — even with free prison labor.

Jim Ladwig, the executive honcho of Racine County, has leapt on this like a chicken on a juicy June bug. The day the law took effect, he announced that such jobs as landscaping and snow-shoveling would be transferred from unionized county workers to prisoners. The captives will receive no pay, but they could receive compensation in the form of reduced sentences. "We have a win-win when we use the inmates," exulted Ladwig.

He's not the only one thrilled with this scheme to take middle-class paychecks from public employees. The Washington Examiner, a far-right tub-thumper for full-tilt privatization of public services, hailed Racine County's jailbird ploy as "great news for Wisconsin taxpayers. Hopefully we'll see more of it."

So there you have it — the right-wing's idea of a good jobs program for America. When Walker ran for governor last year, he promised to create 250,000 new jobs, and now he's delivering. To apply, go directly to jail!

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



5 Comments | Post Comment
The deficit is $14.3 trillion. The net worth of billioaires is $1.3 trillion. Take it ALL away from them and apply it to the deficit. The deficit will only be $13 trillion and Jim won't have those pesky billionaires to kick around, anymore. The bottom kine is that the federal government spends, spends, and spends some more and there will never be enough money. Eventually, they will come for you. Not now, but soon. Keep listening to this guy at your peril.
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:28 AM
What a great idea. Solve the the depression problem with slave labor.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Grizzly Albert
Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:22 PM
Re: David Henricks
How ludicrous your post is. First you are off by a significant factor. The Billionaire's net worth is in the 6 Trillion range. How about the Millionaires worth oh, say over 10 million? About 35 Trillion. The fact is the top 5% of wealthy have accumulated more wealth since the beginning of the Reagan Error (the most corrupt administration in American History) than had been accumulated in all of human history, this figure is from David Stockman, Reagan's Budget Director. And we're broke?
The bottom line is in the past 30 years we have seen a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the oligarchs. The commons have been sold, often not even to the highest bidders but to the best connected. If these distorted individuals used their wealth for anything resembling say, job creation, I would have less of a problem with these thieves. Listen to the corporatist apologist agenda at your peril.
Comment: #3
Posted by: TR Garlick
Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:05 AM
Re: TR Garlick According to Forbes, in 2011, there are 1210 billionaires in the WORLD not just The USA. These 1210 only have a net worth of $4.5 trillion. You need to study some more. My figures ar accurate.
Comment: #4
Posted by: David Henricks
Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:40 PM
I believe sociology is the key to understanding this. What are university professors teaching students who are expected to graduate and enter the middle class? First, they are teaching so called "competition" in economics which is more of a criminal viewpoint of life than a middle class viewpoint. A street hood who robs a person is competing economically. Currently, the middle class is comprised of Baby Boomer college graduates. These were the spring break people. As George Carlin described entitlement in it's proper usage (not about retired people), the Boomers had a crybaby attitude of "give me that, it's mine." I work with many Boomers, and they are very quick to whine if their toast is not crispy or their eggs are runny. These bloated, many times office pencil pushers as opposed to actual laborers (thereby creating the old European model of bourgeoisie vs poor worker) are the reason the United States has sixteen national pizza chains. "Oh, I don't like Pizza Hut. I'm tired of it...." Most places on the planet you would be clubbed to death by villagers if you carried a Pizza box near them. So, what type of people are our fabulous neighbors, the middle class Boomers who do everything for "my children." (King George did everything for his children, also.)
We can increase the size of the middle class by reducing the definiton of what constitutes middle class. It should be 60k to 150k per year. However, middle class today can be defined as a million dollars a year, and that is not truck driver, street sweeper, or service person (all of which are actual jobs that help the neighborhood daily). The United States is wealthy enough that each person could work two hours a day, but because people are focusing on money and so called "competing" for money, they are not focusing on what needs to be done. Besides the universities as a place to look for the problems, we need to look at real estate. If people did not have to pay exhorbitant amounts for their right to exist on the planet, they would not need fabulously high salaries. Serfdom begins with the landlords.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Mike Hayne
Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:45 AM
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