Monday, March 15, 2010

Increasing Jobs is Job One

Increasing Jobs is Job One
By Gary L. Flowers
Executive Director & CEO
Black Leadership Forum, Inc.
March 8 - 15, 2010

“Equality means dignity. And dignity demands a job and a paycheck that lasts through the week ”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Let’s begin with the obvious in our nation’s joblessness crisis—there are more workers than jobs available. Conversely, there are fewer jobs than workers who need employment. That said, the question of our times is how to put Mr. and Mrs. Humpty Unemployed Dumpty back together again.

As the Obama Administration and Congress address the issue of historically-high unemployment in the United States of America I have an idea: Think big. Given America’s unemployment crisis looms large, so too should be the response by representatives of the government. Lessons learned—good and bad—from the Great Depression of 1930-41 are useful today.

President Franklin Roosevelt thought big when America needed it most. In his 1944 State of the Union Speech he said, “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men [and women] are not free men [and women].’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”

In 1963, nineteen years later, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the issue of America’s unemployment in his famous speech of 1963. Contrary to the main-streamed media’s marketing of the speech’s title as “I Have a Dream”, Dr. King’s message that hot humid August day in Washington, DC was America had broken her promise to all of its people, particularly African Americans who then could not enjoy public accommodations, the right to vote, or the right to live where they chose. In short, Dr. King said that the people in whose honor the National Mall monuments and memorials symbolized promised life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans. President Lincoln by way of the Emancipation Proclamation. President Jefferson via the United States Constitution. And Congress through the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. All promised. All broken.

Months before his tragic assassination in 1968, Dr. King prophetically proclaimed in his platform for the Poor People’s March of 1968 that all Americans should have the right to a job and a livable wage. Dr. King did not live to see his dream of America’s broken promise in employment kept by full employment.

Today, the Obama Administration has such an opportunity.

I agree with L Randall Wray who offers in the book Understanding Modern Money the following commonsensical ideas for jobs for the jobless:
• Companions to the elderly, orphans, physically challenged, mental health patients
• Public school classroom assistants who tutor reading, writing, and math (also aides for school field trips and after-school programs)
• Child-care assistants, and Head Start assistants
• Safety monitors and facilitators assigned to public school playgrounds and transit hubs
• Neighborhood and road clean-up crews
• Home insulation assistants for low-income housing
• Environmental safety monitors testing lead paint levels, water quality, and beach contamination
• Improvement teams for national and state parks
• Artiists, musicians and performers for public schools
• Community and cultural historians
• Public assistants to monitor government regulations
• Prison and juvenile facility education assistants

Mr. Wray’s list makes so much sense, not to mention the need for massive public works jobs. As such, the federal government would become the “employer of last resort.”

Why not guarantee all Americans a job with a livable wage by Constitutional Amendment?

Such ideas are out-of-the-box big. America’s founding is a big idea

1 comment:

  1. With today's computer machined steel stude technology, a new building is cheaper and better than renovations. The only reason one engages in atomistic, sheflish small business is to avoid following the rules. Even Milton Friedman showed that small business creating jobs is unprovable because of survival bias (J Eco Lit, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 2129-2132). In today's complex New Industrial State (J K Galbraith), you do a better job if you are a large contractor because you have all kinds of compliance controls in place and access to superior information than if you are on you own.