Sep 5, 2011
Obama is poised to announce his “jobs program.” He let it be known he might encourage states to let people keep their unemployment benefits while they work eight weeks for a company, which pays them absolutely nothing and doesn’t have to keep them. In other words, eight weeks of labor for which a company pays nothing. Obama talked of cutting payroll taxes for Social Security so those of us working would have a little more money in our pockets – robbing tomorrow’s pensions to cover what our wages have lost in pay cuts today. And, as usual, he wants to give companies money or tax breaks, pretending this will make them hire again.
From Ronald Reagan up until today, every tax cut for the rich and the corporations has been presented as a way to increase hiring. And where are we today after 30 years of such cuts? Stuck right in the middle of the worst depression in 75 years.
We are in the midst of a jobs crisis, which touches the unemployed, their spouses, their young children – or their parents who have to dig into their pension savings to bail out their adult children, or adult children trying to bail out their own unemployed parents.
So, yes, a jobs program is needed. But which one?
People are out of work. They want to work. Put them to work. If the bosses don’t want to hire more people, then divide up the work they want to provide. Instead of some people working 40 hours (or 50 or 60), put everyone to work 25 or 30 hours – but with no loss in anyone’s weekly pay.
And don’t let unemployment get worse. No company making a profit should be allowed to lay off new rounds of workers.
Wages need to be indexed to increase right along with the real increases we meet every week in the supermarket, the gas pump, utility bills, school fees.... And no boss should be allowed to cut wages.
Less money in our pockets means less that we spend on the goods and services that other workers produce – and greater unemployment.
If the bosses say they can’t afford this jobs program, let workers audit their books. People working for a company can pick apart falsified balance sheets – they know how much is being shipped, how much material is being brought in, how much the payroll for production and needed support activities really costs. They can begin to figure out how the companies are lining the pockets of the rich, how they are sloughing money off to the big banking interests.
Some would say that this jobs program is a “radical” program. Some might call it “revolutionary.” Well, maybe it is. In any case, the moderate measures have been tried for 30 years now – and they aren’t working.
So it is time for a revolutionary, radical program!