By Anonymous (not verified) on August 11, 2011

The story is still jobs.

House Speaker John Boehner doesn’t think so. He joyfully declared that the Republican Party got “98 percent” of what it wanted in the debt limit deal.

But that deal didn’t create a single job. In fact, it is likely to cost jobs, with all the cuts that are going to be required.

Lost in the months of debate over the debt issue was the fact that the American people are much concerned about jobs than the debt.

More than half of the respondents in a CBS News/New York Times poll at the end of June stated that the issue of jobs and the economy was the most pressing one. The country’s debt, one of the favorite issues of the tea party and now the Republicans, was of concern to only 7 percent of those who responded.

In fact, poll after poll reveals that the public considers jobs to be the subject their elected officials should address.

Little wonder: Unemployment is at 9.1 percent. For whites, the rate is 8.1 percent; for African-Americans, it is at 15.9 percent. For Hispanics, the rate is more than 11 percent.

Long-term unemployment — the measure of those unemployed for more than six months — provides an even more distressing story. Of the unemployed, 44 percent fall into this category. These numbers are worse than the numbers recorded during the Great Depression.

Republicans like to assert that a huge spike in federal regulations under President Obama and taxes are behind the lousy economy and slow job growth. Not true, even according to David Frum, the conservative columnist and a former special assistant to President George W. Bush. Frum recently noted that new federal regulations under Obama have been insignificant in number and there have been no new tax increases on businesses put forth by the Obama administration.

While the Republicans are completely resistance to additional government spending to create jobs, they have offered no alternative policy.

But there are jobs that can be immediately created right away if the only the political infighting would cease.

The nation’s bridges, roads and tunnels are falling apart.

The nation’s 86,000 miles of coastline also present an opportunity to employ workers. According to Tony Munoz, editor-in-chief of Maritime Executive magazine, more than $5 billion in receipts from the Harbor Maintenance Tax trust fund is available to put people back to work in the nation’s maritime system.

State and local governments across the country are strapped for cash to keep workers employed; these entities could use some support from the federal government to assist their economies and keep people on the payrolls.

These are just three examples.

But most of all, consider the Commerce Department report that recently described the 2008 recession as more of an economic depression. The government must act as decisively as President Franklin Roosevelt did during the Great Depression and get people back to work now.

Republicans continue to focus on the strange goal of maintaining tax advantages for the superrich and slashing government, even amid this job crisis. And Obama, at least until now, has failed to prioritize jobs.

Instead of scoring partisan political points, our elected officials must do what the people want and need: Create jobs now.

Brian Gilmore is a poet and public interest lawyer. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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