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Paula B. Mays

Paula B. Mays

Posted: July 27, 2010 05:20 PM

A Boil on the Neck of Prosperity

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Unemployment is a boil on the neck of prosperity and economic recovery in America and we must do more than lance it -- we must cure it. There is constant debate as to the cause of the current unemployment/economic crisis in America. Numerous theories are espoused -- everything from blaming the poor for wanting adequate housing to the laissez-faire policies which took a foothold from the time of President Reagan onward. While it is an interesting academic pursuit to debate the causes of the present crisis, it does no good for the American people. The problem is: The crisis is real, the people are real and their lives are real. As a result the solution must also be real and must be soon.

Unemployment is bad for the entire country not just for the individuals who are unemployed, here are several reasons why:

1. A severe decrease in the tax base and a heavier burden on those employed to pay taxes.

2. An Increased medical burden for all as those who are unemployed can neither afford preventive care nor pay for non-emergency care despite the current Health Care Reform Act.

3. Higher incidents of crime and in particular fraud, and in the number of those victimized by fraud as people feel desperate to find means of support.

4. The ripple down effect on consumerism as the number of consumers of goods and services is diminished by high unemployment. Thereby causing more unemployment.

5. And suicide,in particular suicide of people who ordinarily would not think of such a dramatic solution, but who have become hopeless as a result of long periods of unemployment.

So how do we solve this crisis? As some expected of him apparently, the President cannot simply wave his magic wand and poof crisis over. To solve a crisis of such epic proportions requires thinking outside of the box and the cooperation of us all in developing new and innovative ideas. And we have an example in President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who, when faced with the same sort of crisis in the 1930's, developed creative programs such as the WPA, Social Security, the GI Bill. I am not arguing that 20th century programs are appropriate for the 21st century per se, but that we need our own version of creative policy thinking. I believe President Obama is developing such programs but he faces intense opposition and obstruction.

And it's like déjà vu all over again. President Roosevelt faced the similar opposition. Cries of socialism (The S word); the changing of America forever; constitutional violations were all the same things said in the Roosevelt administration.

The modern day Republican Party is the opposition of the day, often obstructing attempts at finding solutions to the present unemployment crisis. Recently, the Republican Party touts the end of the current jobs program, despite the fact it would result in further unemployment. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/27/tanf-emergency-fund-congr_n_660365.html#comments. A recent filibuster of unemployment benefits left millions in despair. To end this crisis and for the good of America we cannot let the obstructionist stand in the way of progress. The past is our guide to the future. To end the unemployment crisis innovation is required, spending is required, and all of these programs are required. All of this must be done and perhaps more! Let us urge our Congress and our President to support and create innovative ways to end the unemployment crisis; and let us not let obstructionism stand in our way. It is crucial that we do so. It is urgent that we do so.