THE BLOG

Recovering to Death

10/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Jumbo shrimp. Buy and save. Jobless recovery. Americans are on Full
Oxymoron Alert these days, as we read and hear about this "jobless
recovery." Recovery for whom?

The unemployment rate is high and growing higher, nearing an official
10 percent--which is always lower than the reality of impoverished
underemployed and "discouraged workers" who have stopped bothering to
officially register. Since this recession began, seven million
Americans have lost their jobs.

Why aren't seven million of us big enough to fail?

If stimulus packages for corporate sinkholes are good enough for the
American taxpayer, why can't we find $5.4 billion to create minimum
wage jobs, with full health care benefits, for the 216,000 Americans
who lost their jobs in August? Coincidentally, $5.4 billion is the
amount the Pentagon will spend next year on unmanned vehicles, such as
the Predator, which is killing so many civilians in Pakistan and
turning our friends into our sworn enemies.

If the Pentagon "burn rate" for the dual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
is in excess of $40 billion per month, why can't we manage to staunch
the outflow of jobs in public education? War spending doesn't include
the wages or benefits for the 190,000 troops involved, since that
expense is covered in the $900 billion DoD budget, a figure that
includes items DoD leaves out, such as nuclear weapons and satellite
costs, which are part of Department of Energy and NASA budgets,
respectively.

On September 4, Raytheon Missile Systems was awarded a $93,851,886
contract for a few missiles. Which Americans lost their jobs so some
Raytheon executives and stockholders could make a killing? We also saw
90 killed by a U.S.-made, U.S.-launched missile in Afghanistan, many
of them civilians. That $93,000,000 could have created almost 2,000
modest-paying, full health care jobs. Instead, it will create a
handful of jobs (military spending creates fewer jobs than any sector
of our economy), obscene war profits for a few wealthy people, more
deaths overseas and thus more enemies who hate us. Many other Pentagon
contracts amounting to many scores of $millions were awarded that same
day, as they are every business day.

The day before, September 3, McDonnell Douglas Corp. was awarded a
$102,333,333 contract for contractors. Since it has been reported that
contractors are often paid more than $200,000 per year, plus full
benefits, we could generously say that contract creates perhaps 400
jobs for Pentagon contractors doing God-knows-what in Central Asia or
the Middle East, making more people angry at the U.S. Instead, that
same amount of money could have created another 2,000 moderate salary
jobs in America performing sustainable, life-enhancing human services.
This one contract on one day helps to lose more than 1,500 American
jobs and generate hate against the U.S.

No, I am not an economist. I am just a professor in the field of
Conflict Resolution, trained to approach problems with an open mind
and a brainstorming stance. We need some brainstorms in our country.
People are hurting and our direction isn't changing. When I grew up in
hockey country in Minnesota, my father was our Peewee coach. He told
us, "Whenever we are losing, we are going to change how we play." Our
team, the Tigers, won the Peewee championship that year.

Surely we have some certified smart people who can think outside the
Wall Street-Pentagon box and start spending taxpayer funds--few of
which come from corporations, most of which come from hard-working
middle-class Americans--so that we see some recovery where it counts.
Always change a losing game. We are losing. Change is overdue.