THE BLOG
03/28/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Creating Jobs is Easy, Politics is Hard

There are gradations of what one might call a job. In our hybrid economic system, there are the make-work-FDR kinds of job, the temporary job, like day laborer, computer programmer or telemarketer, and stable private or government sector employment. The thing that creates all of them, even make work, is the same, demand. Demand is created by high paying jobs, investment follows an economy's power to consume. What does not create jobs is investment by itself. The GOP would have you believe that some benevolent magic guides investment into creating jobs without context, that it just does. The fetishistic GOP puts the cart before the horse on this issue, and therefore cannot make a serious contribution to the solution for unemployment. Frankly, historically, the GOP likes unemployment. It makes for cheaper labor.

This recession is as much about cheap labor and the crumbing underpinnings of our economy, the middle class and working poor, as it is the excesses of Wall Street and "Too Big Too Fail" banks. Exactly, precisely, what happened is that the vastly rich had no place to put all their dough other than into speculation, the sub prime mortgage being nothing more than indirect speculation by big money. The exotica of credit default swaps would never have been invented were there not so much money chasing a return in an economy that was already on the life support of the longest loosest monetary policy in our history. Loose money attempted to grow an economy without the wage growth that is, in fundamental economic theory, necessary to grow an economy.

So you may be angry with Wall Street and big banks and CEOs for trying to add one too many cards to the house of cards, but the fact is that this is not the worst thing they have done, over the years, to a public that had given them every benefit of doubt to do the right thing. Propagandizing "what's good for business is good for the country" isn't it?

Fine, it is, but the plain fact is that business, and the GOP, haven't the slightest clue of what is good for business, outside of the next quarter's results or the conditions of their next bonus. There has been no long term thinking in our country for thirty years, no big picture, no adults in charge. Had there been, they might have mentioned to the greedy bastards in large and small business alike that lower pay for hourly and salaried workers means lower GDP and therefore less, not more, revenues for business. You can grow margins even when the economy and your company is shrinking in revenue, losing market and shedding jobs. Doing so is the cap stone to a stupid business plan, a plan to which every corporation in America seems to have signed up, in a race to go out of business.

In his 2010 State of the Union, Obama will announce a new slew of Band-Aids for a working class, a working class that has a severed artery and that grows more pale and cold with each gush of its lifeblood, money. There is no political will to do what is required to suture the wound and transfuse the middle class back to vigor. The GOP has so poisoned the minds of Americans that they, willingly, will bleed to death, die, and let the country die, rather than accept the measures that will save them and the country. They will do so because the necessary measures have been branded socialism. Socialism they might be, but socialism is the natural enemy of excess in capitalism. It is also the "evil" that is needed, from time to time, to save the "good" of capitalism, as did FDR.

Creating jobs is easy. Raise taxes on the wealthy, who are currently paying less in taxes than at any time since before the Great Depression, and use the money to employ people at whatever. WWII did that on a scale 10 times as high as our own meager response to the Reagan/Bush Depression. Keynes was wrong because he didn't know, for sure, how right he was. The WWII effect was to employ "everyone" at a government job and a doubling of American pay scale. Look it up or read this. There has never been a more demonstrable effect of socialism's positive effect on the American economy. But it is simply not seen as socialism, even though is was a common cause.

Repairing an economy ravaged by years of inattention to the security of that economy is hard. The trade deficit remains intransigent. Organized labor struggles against a system rigged for the employer. Small business is threatened by conglomerates wielding comparatively unlimited political influence. Health care has appropriated every dime of wage increases for a decade. A new era of energy wielded as a weapon of the Middle Eastern nations is in full force. Banks, credit card companies and payday loans savage a financially struggling public with fees and usurious interest. The slash and steal culture of merger and acquisition corporate America is cutting great hunks out of what remains of stable employment. One unjustifiable war and one neglected unto crisis have tied the hands of a government in borrowing. All of these things are reasons to be angry with government, Republicans, in particular, and the Democrats that have been complicit in the pillage of a nation.

But, what is harder still than mustering the political will to remedy the grievances of a decade, or more, is the task of doing so without killing the patient. Do we let the cage fight nature of special interest lobby versus public crusade distract from the fact that banks are necessary to fund construction, regular people will need pay day loans, energy must flow through the grid, goods must show up where people can get them, employers must see their way clear to hire with pay as an issue and people will get sick and need insurance to pay? Outrage is in great supply. Patience is dear and justly so. There are going to be some scars and this is going to hurt, but lets try not to kill the patient out of an excess of outrage towards the pathogen.

So Band-Aids it is. Were there a voice that could lend a popular certainty to any undertaking at all in an electorate as polarized as any since the Civil War, this would be easier, carefully nurtured confusion being the root cause of our troubles. But even if such voice existed it would be pilloried to impotence by antagonists to its potential of success. We, the people, in the minutiae of our most private interests, want then, as a collective of those interests, things to be collectively wrong, somehow. We have the government we have wrought, and to my estimation, are showing no sign of doing better in this last year's worth of evidence save this, we are engaged in government on a scale not seen since the sixties. That is cause for optimism in itself. Come hither citizen, and find a brave future.