OK, I probably looked like one of the despondent actors in the play, "Les Miserables" as I leafletted by myself outside the Bureau of Labor Statistics in downtown Dallas on September 2. It was the "First Friday" jobs vigil that I've been doing for 6 or 7 months. Kayla must have been pretty dismayed around 11:45 AM when she walked up to help, expecting a big turnout, and found only one over-the-hill character with a "Jobs with Justice" sign around his neck and a handful of leaflets. Channel 33's reporter, who called to check on my whereabouts, probably drove by and felt about the same way. Anyway, he didn't show up with his TV camera.
Probably the only thing I can think of that would be worse than standing virtually alone in 103 degree weather to try to alarm seemingly uncaring passersby about the jobs crisis is not doing it. Somebody has to do something, as I told Kayla, and as it said on the leaflets I was handing out:
Everybody talks about the jobs crisis, but
Nobody DOES anything!
"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.".
The latest statistics show that unemployment continues to rage through our American economy like an uncontrollable forest fire, while politicians are insane arsonists rushing to douse it with more oil.
The private sector, as they have since the crisis began, failed to provide jobs. The public sector is contributing negatively as we begin to feel the state and local layoffs directly ordered by political leaders. The gargantuan effect of federally ordered layoffs is an oil pipeline aimed at the wildfire.
Future indicators, such as the average workweek and the number of people being forced to work part-time, say that the situation is going to get much worse.
Solutions aren't even discussed
Not discussed and not moving, solutions lie at hand. All of them involve government created public works jobs to repair our economy and our infrastructure at the same time.
* The AFL-CIO put forward a new six-point program for recovery while reducing financial speculation
* Representative John Conyers has a comprehensive bill that also addresses the racist aspects of the crisis
* Representative Jan Schakowsky's bill would produce 2 million jobs by taxing the rich and big oil
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and others are calling for an honest solution that really addresses our need. They point out that our federal government created over 8 million good jobs during the last great crisis through the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration. This is what we must have.
Bring Back the WPA!
Kayla and I encountered a couple of retired tourists from Scotland, who estimated that unemployment in their home country was 25%. They pointed out that, there like here, young people are the most jobless. Some people, apparently, are living more misery than we are in America. Eternal optimist Kenneth arrived as Kayla was leaving. Then, on the way home, I passed one of those homeless newspaper vendors who sell "Street Zine" and thus beat Dallas' tough anti-panhandling law. He was so grateful to get a dollar! We're learning a lot about misery in America!