By Matthew Rothschild on February 12, 2010

What planet are Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and the Democrats on?

Obama’s own economic advisers say that unemployment is going to average 10 percent this year and 9.2 percent next year.

And yet all that Harry Reid now is proposing to spend on a new jobs bill is $15 billion over the next decade, which is peanuts. And most of those peanuts are going directly to businesses, which is the least efficient way to stimulate the economy.

There is no money to extend unemployment benefits.

There is no money to extend health care coverage to the unemployed.

There is no money to support state governments, which are having to make vicious cuts to balance their own budgets.

There is no money to create a federal jobs program.

It’s as though Reid and Obama don’t care that there are almost 15 million unemployed Americans right now and that this number is unlikely to get much lower any time soon.

It’s as though they don’t understand the magnitude of the crisis that poor people are facing.

“Low-income Americans are facing a higher unemployment rate today than at the height of the Depression,” reports DemocracyNow. “The Center for Labor Market Studies at Boston’s Northeastern University divided U.S. households into ten groups based on annual income. The lowest tenth, with an annual household income of $12,499 or less, had a fourth-quarter unemployment rate last year of 30.8 percent. The next lowest-income group had an unemployment rate of 19.1 percent.”

Oh, Reid and Obama talk about the unemployed. But those words amount to just crocodile tears since they have the power to do something about this but choose not to do so.

They seem allergic to power.

They were elected with a mandate to provide jobs and fix the economy. They have majority control. They blew the first stimulus package by designing one that was half as big as what was needed.

And now they’re blowing this one.

They could, by the reconciliation process, at least ram through the House bill, which would spend ten times as much on job creation as Reid’s pathetic bill.

But no, they’re content to lowball the recovery once more, to let millions of people grow desperate worrying about not having a job, to let families strain to the breaking point, to force families to cut back on bare necessities, and to create huge psychological scars for adults and children alike.

All because Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and the Democrats refuse to exercise the power they hold in their hands.

This isn’t just gutless. And this isn’t just bad politics. It’s a sin to let so many people in this economy suffer so needlessly.

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine. To subscribe for just $14.97 a year, just click here.

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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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