The conviction of Bernard Madoff has created many scenes of joy at the sight of a lying manipulator finally being sent to prison. But, the Madoff conviction also highlights a basic mistake of the Obama administration–focusing on prominent people as though this will in itself create jobs. The unemployment rate continues to rise despite pouring over a trillion dollars into the economy. Obama’s focus is mainly on restoring financial health, but it also has a hidden assumption that once banks and Wall Street are OK it will translate into more jobs for those unemployed. Placing Bernie Madoff in jail for 150 years is an emotional high for many, but it does not place food on the table of those unemployed.
Obama continues to claim adherence to the ideas of FDR and the New Deal, but he misses the point. The significance of the New Deal was creation of government sponsored jobs whether on WPA building projects or building road sin forests or paying artists to paint or musicians to play music. Obama makes much of re-educating the workforce, but this is based on an assumption if the workforce had higher technology skills there would be jobs. But, is there any evidence gaining new technology translates into new high tech jobs?
The current workforce is fundamentally different from those who joined WPA work projects in building schools or highways and bridges. We offer the following suggestions:
1. Create a 250,000 Teacher Corps which would place an entire team of Teacher Corps staff into a single school. Free such schools from the need to meet irrelevant testing standards and allow them to invent a 21st century education model.
2. Create a new rapid transit national system which would offer travelers speedy travel on trains rather then on planes. Place a hundred billion into revamping large city rapid transit accompanied by laws banning cars from entering these cities Monday-Friday.
3. Create a new Business Stimulus Fund for those with new business ideas. Allow the creative ideas of young Americans to emerge along with new jobs.
4. Model the New Deal programs for theater, music, art, and literary projects.
5. Let’s get going with new technology that will eliminate the need for an oil centered economy. Talks is cheap, get them going–NOW!