We Depression babies were in short supply, so that we had the best of things so far as finding and keeping jobs was concerned. As a scholarship/fellowship student, I always needed to earn some extra during our vacation breaks and both in the U.S. and Britain where I spent two separate years as a student — public school and Oxford — I was always able to find all sorts of jobs. I enjoyed doing different things ranging from construction to writing for Time Inc. My teaching career started pre-dissertation at a leading woman’s college as an instructor. I continued teaching until I was 74, as I enjoyed greatly what I was doing and built up pension and Social Security payments with each extra year.

My heart goes out, then, to the 15 million currently job hunting with many more struggling with part-time things that barely pay the rent, let alone medical insurance and other necessities. The times have changed radically and it does not look as though many kinds of work will ever be restored, given our competition with such as China which exploits its own with far less pay and support for other things. India seems to have an over supply of well educated which get American jobs as well — those phone in things, etc.

I, therefore, agree wholeheartedly with Robert Reich’s proposal that, as did Roosevelt, we should use government employment to pick up the slack wherever we can — the old WPA which built some marvelous things scattered around the country or bridge repair which is in disarray with our states hard pressed financially, teaching, and other areas in short supply:

“Let me say this as clearly and forcefully as I can: The federal government should be spending even more than it already is on roads and bridges and schools and parks and everything else we need. It should make up for cutbacks at the state level, and then some. This is the only way to put Americans back to work. We did it during the Depression. It was called the WPA.”

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/10/02/unemployment/

In response to the deficit problem, Reich also notes:

“My father was right about a lot of things, but he was wrong about this. America paid down FDR’s debt in the 1950s, when Americans went back to work, when the economy was growing again, and when our incomes grew, too. We paid taxes, and in a few years that FDR debt had shrunk to almost nothing.”

People who are employed are paying taxes and are not burdening us with expensive things such as medical care in hospital emergency rooms, crime — the expenses of imprisoning criminals are greater per person annually than those of the most expensive educations! And we have more than 2 million in jail each year with many more millions blocked from decent employment by their prison records!

There are many other areas where we could switch our expenditures to things that would provide employment here in the U.S. such as cutting back on our international military cops role which benefits the nations where our troops are stationed — with a large portion of OUR tax dollars.

I am going a bit beyond even Reich’s WPA type proposal, but one of the things I hope Obama can achieve is a redirection of our monies to things that profit us rather than others and away from those that waste huge amounts such as our prisons! He may have some trouble with the legislators geared to the prison guard lobby as well as the other wasteful lobby supported things, as we have seen with his medical reform efforts. Remarkable that the vast majority of citizens and doctors both favor government provision of medicine — and yet the lobbies have been spending billions fighting reform with great success!

What do you think?

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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