I like to help my children with their homework, whenever I have time. (And since January, I've had more time.) It's great to help them -- I know all the answers, and I never have to take the exams.
Last night, we tried something different. They helped me with my homework. A math problem:
"We are spending $159,000,000,000.00 on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year. If we ended the wars, brought the troops home, took that money, and created decent jobs paying $30,000 apiece in the United States, then how many jobs would we create?"
Skye, the 16-year-old, took out her phone, clicked on the calculator app, and gave the answer:
I asked the 12-year-old, Star, and the 10-year-old, Sage. Both gave me the right answer:
Then I asked the 6-year-old twins, Storm and Stone. Storm said "thirty hundred and five." Stone agreed.
OK, so we have a jobs program that a 10-year-old can understand. But, admittedly, not a six-year-old.
And what would that jobs program do to the unemployment rate? The math is a little more complicated, but the answer is that it would drop the unemployment rate from 9 percent to 5.5 percent. Immediately.
It's actually better than that, because money that is spent hiring Americans, in America, then circulates in America. Economists tell us that every new job like that creates as many as five other jobs -- the employee then pays his rent, the landlord then goes to the restaurant, the waiter then gets his hair cut, and so on. Unemployment, goodbye.
As opposed to spending our money in Iraq, on Iraq. Have you ever been in the desert when it rains? The water runs through the sand so fast that 15 minutes after the rain is over, it's as though it never rained at all.
That's what happens to our tax dollars spent in Iraq. The term "bottomless pit" is an understatement.
And what would all those employees do? Well, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky has figured that out. She has introduced a bill to hire 2.2 million people, and her bill breaks down this way:
- The School Improvement Corps would create 400,000 construction and 250,000 maintenance jobs by funding positions created by public school districts to do needed school rehabilitation improvements.
- The Park Improvement Corps would create 100,000 jobs for youth between the ages of 16 and 25 through new funding to the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service's Public Lands Corps Act. Young people would work on conservation projects on public lands include restoration and rehabilitation of natural, cultural, and historic resources.
- The Student Jobs Corps would create 250,000 more part-time, work study jobs for eligible college students through new funding for the Federal Work Study Program.
- The Neighborhood Heroes Corps would hire 300,000 teachers, 40,000 new police officers, and 12,000 firefighters.
- The Health Corps would hire at least 40,000 health care providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, and health care workers to expand access in underserved rural and urban areas.
- The Child Care Corps would create 100,000 jobs in early childhood care and education through additional funding for Early Head Start.
- The Community Corps would hire 750,000 individuals to do necessary work in our communities, including housing rehab, weatherization, recycling, and rural conservation.
Or, alternatively, we can have all those millions of people, our fellow Americans, do nothing all day, as they lose their jobs, lose their homes, and slide slowly into poverty and bankruptcy.
And I'll tell you one thing for sure: more corporate welfare will not create jobs. In the past ten years, we have crammed trillions of dollars into the pockets of Big Business, through bailouts, tax breaks, subsidies, no-bid government contracts, grants, cheap mining and drilling licenses, etc., etc. Do you know how many jobs in America the private sector has created during that time?
Actually, less than zero. There are around one million fewer private sector jobs today than there were ten years ago.
We keep handing our money over to the rich, in the vain hope that they will give some of it back. That hasn't worked, and it won't work.
So which do you prefer: war or jobs -- jobs for all Americans? I want jobs.
We want jobs. Jobs, health and peace.