Friday Feedback: Call for Jobs Programs

istock_000001483014xsmall.jpgFridays the LA Progressive features a comment that was particularly noteworthy. This week we are featuring a comment submitted by Sharon Toji commenting on The Surge We Need at Home, by David A. Love.

Here’s Sharon’s comment:

Although I am not happy about the circumstances of this article, which I consider to be an accurate appraisal of the situation, I am happy to see its source. In our weekly Kaffee-Klatch, we lost African American participation whenever there was any criticism of Obama during the discussion. It appeared that white people were not supposed to critique the administration, since it would display our innate racism. We need everyone to speak out and push Obama in the right direction.

I can’t say I was “disappointed” in the jobs summit, because I didn’t expect it to be more than window dressing, but every day I wake up with the hope that President Obama will read one of the articles by people like Paul Krugman or Bob Herbert in the NY Times and a light will finally click on in that sharp brain of his.

I think there must be a good deal of creativity available in those gray cells, and he could surely find funds to put a fast jobs program into action. He says that jobs and the money for them must come from the private sector. As a small business person, who is barely hanging on and has emptied my small savings account just to make the payroll I have now I can tell him what everyone else would tell him — there is no money in the private sector to hire new people, and guess what, with things the way they are, there is no way most of us will be willing to take out loans to hire new people, even if banks will approve them. I have maxed out about $125,000 in bank credit that should be used to finance jobs, and I can’t pay it back, because the contractors I’m working for won’t pay me! I’m not about to go into more debt to hire more workers.

But, if there were thousands of jobs out there at, say, $15.00 per hour to clear brush ahead of the fire season, spruce up restrooms in public parks, paint classrooms, put an aid in each classroom and public library and recreation center, tutor in after school programs — those people would have money to spend in their neighborhoods. As neighborhoods received an influx of money in shops, restaurants and gas stations, workers would be needed there. Tax receipts would go up, and maybe cities, counties and states could retain more workers. That’s the kind of trickle down we need to get the economy going.

We need construction jobs as well, but not just for roads and highways and bridges. Those jobs are very limited, heavy construction jobs. When you build and repair schools, libraries, recreation centers and public housing, you employee not only concrete and steel workers, but painters, tile setters, cabinet makers and installers, hardware suppliers, plumbers, electricians, fire alarm installers, heating and air conditioning workers, window installers, and even companies like mine, that make room identification signs and install them.

In the huge bureaucracy that is our government, there are undoubtedly funds already available in various departments that could be diverted to such programs. The President has, I believe, more power than he may know. So far, his executive power has been used for things like continuing certain military tribunals, refusing to publish pictures of US torture, continuing aspects of the Patriot Act that spy on Americans. Why not use it for good?

Believe me, once jobs started to appear and people started to get the paychecks from them, the program would be unstoppable. Congress would not dare stand in the way. Our President is a reader and a student of history. He needs to be reading a history of FDR’s presidency during the depression right now, of the WPA, the TVA, the CCC. It is almost too late. Midterm elections will soon be upon us. People are falling into an abyss that they will never climb from. Students will drop out of school. Older people will founder and never work again, just waiting out the days until they get a meager social security check. Yes, we need a surge right here at home!

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