Barack Obama is opening his campaign for the general election with a two-week tour focused on the economy. Finally! We’ve heard about racism, sexism, statements of various pastors, and lack of foreign policy experience. Hillary Clinton has finally ended her campaign. Now we’re getting to the meat, as in “how are we going to be able to put meat and other foods on our tables?”
Obama says that help for families in financial distress “can’t wait until the next President takes office.” I applaud that thinking. I’m not sure about his plan, though. He’s calling for another $50 billion in economic stimulus payments, expansion of unemployment payments, and relief for homeowners facing foreclosure (to include a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund).
While checks are always welcome in my household, another round of economic stimulus payments is most likely to be used for food, gas, and credit card payments. This isn’t likely to create more jobs or expand businesses. And even if people do buy TV’s and computers and cell phones, where’s the money going? Overseas?
I don’t think tax cuts are the answer, either. Supposedly, cutting taxes for businesses and investors results in expansion of businesses, more jobs, and more money for everyone.
So, are we all better off now than we were in 2001?
I think Obama did hit the nail on the head in this part of his statement: “I think it’s time we invested in our roads and schools and bridges and started to rebuild America.”
Exactly. If the government is supposed to create jobs (or at least facilitate their creation), why not just do it directly? Hire people to fix roads and bridges, and teach children, and build our energy independence.
Yes, more government jobs means taking taxes from those who have money, and redistributing them in the form of jobs to those who don’t. If you have money, why should you have to do that? Why should you be forced to share with others.
Well, government exists for the public good (to promote the general welfare, as the Constitution says). It also exists because not everyone considers the public good in their actions. Do people and corporations who have more money always think of others? Do they always hire more workers when they’re doing well? Not necessarily. All too often, excess corporate profits are reserved for shareholders and CEO salaries, and not used for the public good.
I think it’s in the public interest for people to have jobs; jobs that allow them to support themselves and their families. I’m not talking about taking your tax dollars and just giving them away to anyone who doesn’t have a job. I’m talking about paying people to work, and not just to do busy work — we need people to work on roads and bridges, and to develop sustainable energy sources. We need people to teach children.
Yes, we have people who do those things now, but the work still doesn’t get done. We have plenty of roads and bridges falling into disrepair; hundreds of bridges that don’t meet safety guidelines. We could put more teachers in schools, and limit class sizes to 20 students (meanwhile, hiring people to build more classrooms). That would go a lot further than standardized testing toward leaving no children behind. And as far as energy goes, we need to make energy independence happen, and we need to make clean energy happen. It’s a necessity for maintaining life on this planet, and we should be putting all the resources we can into figuring it out.
And of course, people who have jobs are then able to spend money and help keep the economy going for everyone.
I know, this doesn’t give people any immediate relief. Maybe we do need that, too — but I suggest giving that relief to those who really need it. For instance, we could give assistance primarily to those who are currently receiving food stamps or unemployment assistance.
Which brings me back to another Obama statement: “My vision involves both a short-term plan to help working families who are struggling to keep up and a long-term agenda to make America competitive in a global economy.”
That’s what I think, too — but let’s be smart about it.