Help for the jobless must continue, but real solutions are even more important. As North Texas Jobs with Justice prepares for our monthly jobs vigil (11:30 AM Friday, September 2, 525 Griffin at Young in downtown Dallas) we review some of the proposals now floating around.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) wants to bring back the Civilian Conservation Corps. Similar ideas have been put forward by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and by Professor William “Sandy” Darity, whose expertise is public policy, African American studies and economics. Darity's proposal specifically calls for a new and permanent CCC providing jobs at $20,000/year salary plus $10,000/year benefits.
Kaptur explains her bill in a New York Times editorial where she says that the original CCC was up and running, and providing almost 300,000 new jobs, in three months! She also says, "Every dollar of investment in bricks, mortar, infrastructure and environment returns $1.59 to the economy. This is six times more “bang for the buck” than tax credits and other arcane policy options whose economic impact drain through the economy and yield only 30 cents for every dollar expended."
Kaptur's bill is styled HR 494 and is listed on-line.
Representatives John Conyers and Jan Schakowskfy have also put forward bills that are gaining support. Hers, the "Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act," would create 2 million jobs fully paid for through separate legislation that “creates higher tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, eliminates subsidies for Big Oil, and loopholes for corporations that ship American jobs overseas.” Conyers bill reaches for more jobs and also addresses the racist aspects of the jobs crisis. "Official" rates of unemployment are much higher for African Americans and Latinos. None of the proposals would create enough government-sponsored jobs to replace the 8 million lost in the last crisis, let alone the 3 million more that have become necessary since then, but all of them would help.
Rather than focusing on one special proposal, the simple slogan "Bring back the WPA" will probably mobilize the most people. The Works Progress Administration, which focused on public works projects, employed about 8.5 million people from 1935 to 1943, while the CCC gave jobs to 2.5 million unskilled workers. Government-created public works jobs are the only possible solution in the short run. In the long run, reductions in working hours are an absolute necessity. T-shirts like the one shown are available at http://www.printfection.com/BringBackTheWPA.
Politicians use the old Nazi "big lie" technique (repetition) to try to convince Americans that "government cannot create jobs," even though it's clear they are lying. The government did in fact create millions of jobs to alleviate the last jobs crisis. Some North Texas congressmen, in recent "town hall" meetings, actually repeated this odious lie! On my Monday radio show on KNON, a caller clarified it all when he said, "If government can't create jobs, Congressman, then you ought to give back your paycheck, because government sure as heck created YOUR job!"
President Obama is expected to announce a jobs proposal soon. The AFL-CIO, Jobs with Justice, and a long list of at least 70 progressive organizations are organizing a letter to encourage him to come up with a meaningful proposal. The letter is available on-line. The AFL-CIO's proposal for a tiny "transaction tax" on Wall Street speculations would provide billions for the jobless.
Proposals for resolving the jobs crisis must be the crux of the coming election campaign. President Obama's plan may put him over the top, or it may drag him backward. The leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, Texan Rick Perry, has already made his concern clear by flambuoyantly rejecting $555 million in federal funds for the jobless. Mitt Romney wants to raise the retirement age, which would make it even harder for younger workers to find jobs.
None of the accomplishments of working people ever happened until they mobilized in public action. There are petitions to sign; vigils, pickets, and rallies to attend, and electoral work just waiting for us to grab them and make them work for us. On this site, we list as many of these opportunities as possible. Please get with us!
Join and/or donate to North Texas Jobs with Justice