Monday, August 8, 2011

To The Debt Deal and American Jobs

The Debt Crisis has been resolved (though not before the manufactured melodrama was able to decrease the value of US debt) and now the Obama says he is planning a 'pivot to jobs.' Lets leave aside for the moment that the president pivots to jobs so often he must be doing pirouettes in the Oval Office. Instead lets focus on the kinds of jobs the president plans to create. What kind of jobs could the president create? If he really wanted to i'm sure he could resurrect the WPA and start churning out high speed rail lines and plays about how awesome america is, which would be awesome. This nation needs renewed infrastructure, and people need employment. Of course President Obama would never do anything this bold, when he talks about job creation all he's really talking about is tinkering with the tax codes and offering subsides for solar panels (i'm guessing.) But even if he did bring back the WPA, eventually all the bridges and parks would get built and then what? I don't believe that any amount of works projects or tax cuts will bring back the long term middle class jobs that the United States has been hemorrhaging since the 90s.

Republicans have cleverly re-branded rich people as "job creators," but "Creating Jobs" does not automatically mean creating the middle class jobs that are the ballast of this nation, and the engine of true economic growth.  Dan Carlin has a great podcast about jobs and the middle class where he quotes Henry Ford. When asked why he paid his workers such a high wage he replied, "so they can afford to buy my automobiles," and that right there is the key to maintaining our national power and prestige. The wealthy used to understand that it was in their best interest to maintain a thriving middle class, who could provide both the talent pool for creating first rate goods and services, and a market for their consumption.

But with globalization today's super rich have become divested from the American system. The fate of the huge multinationals in no longer tied to that of the American worker. Indians and Chinese workers are as well educated (mostly in American schools) and are willing to work for far less. Growing middle classes in Asia and Latin America means US and European markets are no longer the only place for these corporations to hock their wares. But if we can find a way to once again marry their fortunes to those of the United States we will ensure our continued greatness for 100 generations.