Monday, June 7, 2010

Week of 06/07/2010

Short-Term Solutions - Long-Term FAIL
– by David Matthews 2

In honor of Dennis Hopper, who died recently

Pop Quiz, hotshot: Your friend got a deep and nasty cut on his upper leg in one of the major arteries and blood is shooting out. From the blood-soaked pant-leg and the puddle on the floor you can guess he’s been gushing blood for a few minutes now. He’s already starting to pass out and he’s lost the color in his face, but he’s still breathing. All you have on yourself is a band-aid, a cellphone that is out-of-range, and the clothes on your back. Do you (A) take off the belt on your pants and use it as a tourniquet, and use your shirt and/or pants to cover the wound until you can find some way to drag him within range of your cellphone? Or (B), do you try to put the band-aid on as much of the cut as possible and wish your friend well as you walk away so you could get back in cellphone range? What do you do?

If you choose the first one, albeit embarrassingly, you would be right. But if you choose the second one, then you’d be short one friend by the end of the day; not to mention that you’d look like an idiot, albeit one with your dignity intact.

That is the kind of choice that the United States Government is trying to deal with in regards to our economy.

We have a serious, deep, and gushing wound called unemployment. We have millions of people that, through no fault of their own, are out of work. A huge part of that is because of the near-criminal ineptitude of Wall Street with its various financial schemes, but also because of years of outsourcing and the gluttony of work visas. The business world is not willing or able to recoup those losses, and people who have been out of work for longer than six months are getting larger and larger.

Those people who are trying to survive on what little money they have left and what little comes from unemployment benefits are not able to stimulate the economy. All of their money is spent on trying to keep bills paid and food on the table, and sometimes they are not able to do even that.

In addition the job market itself has been mirroring housing values in depreciation. Employers are looking for over-skilled hopefuls who are willing to work for half of their original wages, and in some instances only willing to pay them part-time.

Sure education and additional training can help, and you continually see ads for colleges on TV, but education does not give you the additional years of experience that employers then ask for.

Go to any job fair and what will you find? Half of the tables will be filled with colleges. Most of the rest are filled by businesses looking to hire salespeople, which don’t get paid unless they bring in sales.

Does that sound like the business world is “recovering”?

And as long as unemployment remains an issue, the economy will continue to falter. More people are having to file for bankruptcy than ever before. Foreclosures are still a threat in this country. Foreclosures mean more bank failures. Wall Street is STILL selling credit default swaps, the so-called “toxic assets” that led to their near-collapse in 2008. In other words, RECENT history will be repeating itself soon. The spend-gasm of commercial property construction will soon lead to that bubble bursting as there will be no new businesses to fill those office spaces and strip malls.

This is a serious GUSHING economic wound.

So what is the government doing about it?

They’ve extended unemployment benefits to up to 99 weeks. Or at least they’ve PROMISED to extend it. Unfortunately the insurrectionists in the GOP continually throw a monkey wrench into that coverage by screaming “DEFICIT SPENDING” and getting the month-by-month financial coverage to expire through procedural vetoes. (Even more damnably hypocritical is how they are screaming about the spending now and not five years ago when they held the purse-strings.)

In other words, they are using a series of short-term band-aids to try to plug up a SERIOUS LONG-TERM problem… and failing miserably at it.

Let’s get brutally honest here… this is a LONG-TERM problem and it requires serious LONG-TERM solutions! The Obama Administration and the members of Congress cannot simply throw short-term extensions at this problem and expect the economy to simply right itself. The private sector has neither the will nor the desire to do the right thing in this matter, and waiting for business leaders to get their act together is not a game of attrition that the American people can afford.

Businesses need to be encouraged to hire back the long-term unemployed. The best way to do that would be to reward those businesses with specific tax breaks for every American they hire back into the workforce that has been out of work for more than six months. Get them hired and get them OFF unemployment.

The creation of that program could, in and of itself, provide some relief for the unemployed by creating a new department and hiring ONLY from the ranks of the long-term unemployed, as well as leasing some of the office spaces that are currently going unused all across America. Jobs have to come from SOMEWHERE, and if the private sector is unwilling to do what needs to be done, then the public sector HAS to step in. DEAL WITH IT, CONSERVATIVES!

Another way to encourage more hiring is to terminate those various work visas that allowed businesses to bring in people from other countries. Also penalizing businesses that outsource jobs overseas. Those two gaping holes in our economy helped contribute to the ranks of the unemployed and they both need to come to an immediate end.

Getting Wall Street off their toxic assets addiction is another key way to encourage positive investments. They are treating this as the financial version of crack cocaine, so maybe it is high time we treat them as crackheads.

The Federal Communications Commission has a way to generate some jobs as well. Digital Satellite Radio currently has ONE provider. It used to have two, and that came from FOUR potential providers. Although DSR is a short-term solution, it is well within the FCC’s power to give more licenses for providers, and a way to eventually transition it to wireless Internet access for ALL vehicles. That would be a LONG-TERM business venture. The opportunity is there. There just needs to be someone with the vision and the resources to make it all happen.

This is a bitter pill to swallow for many in Washington. Certainly the career politicians and the un-convictable insurrectionists will be throwing fits at some of the ideas. But the Obama Administration and the members of Congress need to SWALLOW that pill hard, because their willingness to look at real LONG-TERM solutions to this serious LONG-TERM problem instead of playing around with short-term failures will determine if they will follow the path of Herbert Hoover - whose systematic failures and gross ineptitude only served to EXASPERATE the Great Depression - or of Hoover’s successor, Franklin Roosevelt, who got America THROUGH the Great Depression.

As the late Dennis Hopper’s character from “Speed” would ask: What do you do, hotshot? What do you do?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think part of this problem is that many of these wall street and those in power is the idea that big business and others like them can and should be allowed to do whatever they want. And workers are "spoiled" and should be happy to take anything or that the customers "should've known better." Since they're the ones that "make society work", any intervention on them is tyranny.