There is no doubt pundits of the right such as Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter or Lou Dobbs and the crowd are able to play upon fear in order to spread their discordant and divisive ideas in America. Yes, President Obama, your actions did halt an economic drift that threatened the entire economy, but as so often is the case, one wins the battle and loses the war. Latest figures in St. Louis reveal area school districts have literally cut in half the number of jobs available in education and indications are similar tallies are apparent all over the nation. We can add over a 100,000 jobless young teachers to the list of those without work. Even more ominous is growing evidence that even if the stimulus works as the president desires, it will NOT result in restoration of jobs to those who have been downsized or out right fired.
We are entering a new era in which new industries simply can not produce the number of middle class paying jobs necessary to avoid economic dislocation in this nation. A recent article in The New York Times suggests those involved in developing Artificial Intelligence assume the result will be more tasks for machines and fewer for humans. The shift in work is analogous to the shift from agriculture to industrial work, but this time around, machines are progressing at an ever increasing ability to supplant human labor.
Unless the Obama administration can create middle class jobs, the prospect for large Republican gains in 2010 Congressional races will come about. The only thing saving Obama is the lack of a coherent or intelligent Republican opposition. An historic shift can not be solved in a few years, but the Obama administration must address both short and long term consequences of historic changes in work.
We suggest for the immediate future:
1. Organize a 100,000 Teacher Corps who are paid by the Federal government. They would be available to school districts provided they do not replace existing teacher staffs. They could only be obtained from the Federal government if they are in addition to existing teacher staffs.
2. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton pushed through legislation for 100,000 additional police. We could well do with a similar effort in 2009.
3. Our national forests are desperately in need of help. We could organize a new National Conservation Corps to work restoring our forest heritage.
4. Hospitals and day care are in need of people. Why not day care available in business organizations with Federal subsidies?
5. FDR allocated money to establish theater groups, pay for symphony orchestras playing in places like Penn Station, subsidized authors to write about state histories, etc.. How about subsidizing writers to capture the lives of those who fought in WWII? They could capture the lives of those who participated in the Civil Rights movement. FDR did such acts in the midst of a worse crisis, and it was not wasted money.
6. How about funding small business who have interesting ideas for new products? No interest loans might generate these ideas and they could be reviewed by a panel of retired businessmen and scientists.
Add your own ideas, but let’s get people back to working.