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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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Jobless "Recovery" Requires Us to Rebuild America

Comment

The good news is that America's economy continues to grow. The bad news is that most people's personal economies continue to shrivel.

The June report on jobs glows with the happy news that America's unemployment rate has fallen to 9.5 percent — the best we've had in a year! "We are headed in the right direction," trumpeted President Obama.

Great ... if true. However, the ballyhooed jobs statistic is a mirage. It looks good only because 650,000 more Americans became so frustrated with their fruitless search for work last month that they quit looking. In StatWorld, such "discouraged" seekers are — abracadabra! — no longer considered unemployed, even though they are. There are now 1.2 million Americans in this statistical purgatory.

That's not the only shadow on June's economic glow. Those lucky enough to have jobs, for example, saw America's average workweek shrink. It's now down to only 34 hours — which means less income for "full time" working families.

There also was another drop in the average hourly wage. Fewer hours, lower wages. That's not what most people would call an economy "headed in the right direction." Indeed, the strongest job growth in June came from the low-paying service sector, and nearly half of the 46,000 jobs added there are temporary positions.

Meanwhile, another implosion bomb is set to hit American workers. The public sector, which has been one bright spot for decent wages and benefits, is about to shed tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, park employees, utility workers and others from state and local governments, sending our country in exactly the wrong direction.

Yet, economists are cheerfully bandying around the most moronic oxymoron I've ever heard. They are exulting that we're presently experiencing a "jobless recovery."

I don't see how their minds can put those two words together without having their heads explode! Excuse me, Einsteins, but there's no such thing.

You can spin your data till the cows come home, but an economy that has nearly 20 percent of the workforce either unemployed or underemployed, that has no plan for replacing the 8 million jobs we lost in the last two years, that is now proceeding with mass layoffs of such essential workers as teachers and firefighters and that is willing to accept poverty pay as the new American norm is not by any stretch of the imagination a recovery.

The reality we face is what economist Paul Krugman is frankly calling a "Long Depression." As happened in a similar decline in the 1870s, those at the top will prosper and take an even larger share of the wealth we all produce, while the majority sees declining income and rising poverty. To hasten this unhappiness, Republican senators have repeatedly blocked an extension of jobless benefits for America's hardest-hit families, thus intentionally increasing economic pain across our land.

While these Americans are suffering, Republican governors are reaching out — not to help those suffering, but to comfort the comfortable. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, for example, recently dealt with his state's deficit by slashing spending for public health, higher education, the elderly and the disabled. He then vetoed an income tax on Minnesota's richest people, declaring that this effort to balance the budget was "nonsensical." Likewise, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is terminating state workers while vetoing a tax hike on millionaires, calling the wealth tax "irresponsible."

There is, of course, a way to avert this economic disaster. It's called leadership. The way out is to enlist our grassroots people in an all-out "Rebuild America" campaign. Stop talking about a green economy, and put Americans to work building it. Also, let's lead the world in putting high-speed Internet in every home and school. And our crucial national infrastructure, from bridges to parks, is in a sorry state — let's go to work to repair and improve these public resources.

Destiny calls, but our "leaders" are either self-absorbed, clueless or cowardly. So, we must lead. One place to start this rebuilding is through the Blue-Green Alliance: www.bluegreenalliance.org.

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

COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM



Comments

5 Comments | Post Comment
Thanks for this news. It really is unimaginable that the wealthy can have so little of a tax increase compared to a middle class citizen. And it's starting to look like our leaders are, dare I say, corrupt. More and more we hear about politicians fixing the laws in unethical and blatantly irresponsible ways. To help the rich grow in wealth and the rest loose sleep not knowing if the fire department will come fast enough in case of a fire. Why go that direction? We don't need perfect equality that leans toward socialism but we don't want gaps in personal economies like Russia. I know it's a slow process to cause the economy back on track, but I'd hold to see some leaders do more than brainstorm to better their people. We depend on them. Unfortunately...
Comment: #1
Posted by: Stephen
Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:58 PM
How can we still believe transferring wealth from communities to a few individuals or from the future to the present is wealth creation? Why are we so mindlessly diverting our children's rightful inheritance to unscrupulous blowhards? What convinces us taking productive land, pristine waterways and clean air from our families and communities serves a higher purpose? Have we truly become so pathetic in the grips of greed? If we don't wake up quickly we will be woken in a manner yet unimagined.
Comment: #2
Posted by: jwwbrennan
Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:14 PM
How can we still believe transferring wealth from communities to a few individuals or from the future to the present is wealth creation? Why are we so mindlessly diverting our children's rightful inheritance to unscrupulous blowhards? What convinces us taking productive land, pristine waterways and clean air from our families and communities serves a higher purpose? Have we truly become so pathetic in the grips of greed?

If we don't wake up quickly we will be woken in a manner yet unimagined.
Comment: #3
Posted by: jwwbrennan
Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:37 PM
What's surprising is not that our economy is imploding, but that it took so long for it to happen. For the last 30 years we have been stripping this country of its true wealth producing component, namely manufacturing, and sending those jobs over to low cost mostly Asian and mostly Communist countries, have financialized our so called economy so that Wall Sreet profits now account for 40% of all profits made here withoput actually creating any wealth at all but simply creating debt and then speculating on it much like any casino or ractrack, concentrated our technology and resources on a bloated "defense" budget that is the equal of the rest of the world and 8 times larger than the next biggest, Communist China, and have let our infrastructure crumble in a vain effort to strengthen the outposts of our crumbling empire, much as all failing empires have done in their last days. The only thing keeping this hollowed out creation going is that our currency is the world's reserve trading currency, and when that ceases to be, then we will be seen as the financial and economic wreck we really are. We will look around amazed at how did it all happen and just what will we then do with our over the top military and its useless toys of destruction? Meanwhile, Communist China, a nation that has developed its military just enough to be a regional power and has instead devoted its resources and best minds to expanding its economy by domestic production and acqusition of foreign natural resources bought with all the dollars we've sent to them via our friends at Wal Mart etc. will be the big winners. The irony is that the Chinese, under a totalitarian, one party state have acted more like a good citizen in its dealings with the rest of the world than our own country, the alleged light of the world and guardian of human rights. Once again, any nation seeking world military dominance, nominally free and democratic or not, will inevitably end up on history's slag heap.
Comment: #4
Posted by: michael nola
Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:32 PM
Tax the rich, Feed the poor, 'Til ther are, No rich no more. How absurd to think that our federal government, full of rich people, will care when you are poor.
Comment: #5
Posted by: David Henricks
Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:57 AM
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