- Politics and Social Issues
The inherent flaws of Obama's jobs plan
Last night President Obama addressed a joint-session of Congress to announce his proposed answer to boosting American employment. The proposal, called the American Jobs Act, calls for Congress to approve a $447 billion package of tax cuts and spending initiatives. The largest chunks of this package would be directed at cutting employee payroll taxes and providing tax cut incentives to employers who hire American who have been out of work for six months or longer. Next comes a good-sized chunk on "investments" for highways, rails and airports. The next good piece of this package focuses on rehiring of teachers and first responders.
The American Jobs Act proposal has been illustrated in a pie graph at this Thomas Reuters page.
Why this proposal, if passed, would be a modern exercise in Uborous practice, or to put it more bluntly, a course toward obliterating for any hope of renewed American prosperity.
Uberous (or Ourborous) is an ancient symbol of the snake eating its own tail. In ages past it represented a myriad of arcane philosophies, but today it is also known as a symbol for one who is his own most dangerous enemy.
1. Tax breaks for employers are a great thing -but without industry the hopeful out of work do not have a place to even put in an application. For years the government has been running wild on coming up with new and more oppressive regulations that business owners must comply with. Business owners who have attempted to keep their operations in the U.S. have had to declare bankruptcy time and again because they simply cannot afford the regulatory expenses billed by the government. Giving tax breaks to employers while at the same time forcing their businesses out of existence is tantamount to giving a child a spoon with one hand while snatching away the plate with the other.
Unless Obama, his administration and his allies in the Senate and Congress are willing to do away with the ferocious power of regulatory agencies American-based industry will not grow. It is that simple.
2. Whatever short-termed work projects Obama's plan may generate, without affordable oil and gas consumers cannot continue buying products, even American-made products. The price of gasoline is outrageous and yet the administration is unwilling to open and utilize our national resources for production. So Americans are still forced to pay almost $4 for a gallon of gas. It may not sound so bad to high salaried government officials if the average American can fill a tank once a week and still get to work and back home (if they have a job, of course). What is killing us at the stores, however, is the driving price tag behind what we see on the shelves. Whether the merchandise is vegetables, meat, dairy, coffee, milk, butter, sugar, water, cooking oil, whatever, shipment for getting these items into stores is a huge strain on the producer. This strain is passed along to the consumer. For American-based industries, once their clients can no longer shoulder this passing along of shipping costs, the manufacturer/producer goes out of business.
3. Trade agreements that are unfriendly to American employment are still not being addressed and Obama's plan gave no hint of any plans to rectify the situation. The consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have been, for years, unhealthy for U.S. manufacturing jobs. These agreements 1. encourage unbalanced import and export fees that actively contribute to the decline of American prosperity, 2. encourage corporate executives to set up business in other countries using much cheaper labor. The consequence of this is higher cost of products to American customers. It is one thing for President Obama to call on Congress to make bold moves for job creation, but where is his boldness to make a move to breaking free of these crippling agreements?
4. Tax loopholes used and misused by greedy corporate giants, e.g. General Electric. While other American businesses have been forced overseas by the mere necessity to survive, these greedy giants prosper at unseemly proportions by manipulation of the tax codes. This practice goes hand in hand with unfair Trade agreements. Frankly, the greedy will always be able to hire lawyers to manipulate the system as long as they are allowed by law to do so. They have and they will continue to set up sweat shops as allowed by uncaring foreign governments and their CEO's will not stay out of the beds of likewise unethical politicians while the U.S. law makers look the other way. Again I say that Obama needs boldness, and call for reform in this area. I can only see him doing this if he truly cares more about American jobs than the interests of the elite minority. As General Electric stands as the prime example of this kind of tax manipulator, Obama should further man up by removing Jeffrey Immelt immediately as the chair of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. It is a mockery of unemployed Americans that this man has anything to do with the U.S. government's alleged job-making policies.
5. The "Teaching rehiring" aspect of the package pie should raise a red flag for every parent in the United States. As the economy has lingered in recession school systems have been forced to make cutbacks. I know how cutbacks play out in the school system my own children attend, and I imagine it works similarly throughout the nation. First they cut out the essentials they figure parents can contribute to like cleaning supplies, detergents, antibacterial gel, antibacterial sprays and sanitary hand wipes (because, you know, today's schools have to be a lot cleaner than what we parents had back in our stone-age barbarian days). Next they stop providing extra actual need items such as pencils, paper, calculators, erasers, white boards, white board erasers, paper towels, toilet tissue, pens, glue, ect., and so they hit up the parents to contribute extras on these things for the whole class(es). Then they will "cut back" by forcing children to study with year-old textbooks, six-month old gym balls, gym uniforms handed down from the previous year and plates and utensils that actually have to be washed by soap, water and human hands. The next thing to go on the cut-back list will be liberal arts classes -they won't touch football or any of the major sports thingies- and transfer the liberal arts teachers to service as aids in more "important" classes such as study hall, health/sex class and the all important Intervention Class, aka sensitivity training or personal/social introspection session. When the school boards finally realize that none of these cut-backs are saving the money they want then and only then do they start letting teachers go.
It is always the non-tenure teachers who go first. But even at this the Teachers Union will step in at this point and protest that teachers are receiving a bum rap.And the union will fight hard against any tyrant who has dissed a salaried, unappreciated teacher.
This union has historically been the first and loudest group to decry the sorry conditions facing our schools. The first to point to other countries and say hey, scholastic excellence is missing here. The first to charge that our children are being deprived. By the same token, as soon as any federal money comes into a district the Union will demand that the first priority is to increase teacher salaries. Not use the monies for pencils, paper, toilet tissue, glue or even -gods forbid- re-open the drama department. No, the money must be used toward increasing teacher salaries.
I don't scold lightly here, because my oldest son recently graduated college and plans to become an English teacher. I want him to have a successful career, I want him to earn good money to support his family. What I do not want is my son -or anyone's son or daughter- to enter a field where they expect to be taken care of. If you want to talk about unnecessary entitlements look at our current teaching industry. Too many teachers have spent their entire adult lives in the land of Academia. They have no idea what it means to work every day, week, month and year without a three month holiday, without extended holiday breaks, without federal grants money, without hope one of that brass ring called tenure. The majority of the rest of us have had to cut back on our living expenses. It is time teachers step back and if they really care about the quality of education, let the cuts fall in more responsible ways. By being as thrifty as the rest of us must be they can help eliminate the burden on educational funding. If that burden lifts then rehiring can commence without any federal mandate. But the burden will not lift as long as the Teachers Union and teachers themselves believe they are owed a standard of living that most of us can only dream of earning.
6. In his speech the President stressed the construction jobs part of his plan. Now the building of roads, highways, rail systems and airports are all good and well if and when needed. Creating a false urgency for these kind of projects was what the Stimulus Bill was all about. Those non-needed projects offered only temporary employment. Often the projects went unfinished. Worse, when left to the muse of governmental officials several of these projects commanded a high taxpayer cost while providing only a handful or less of actual jobs. What lasting thing did the American public get in return for the Stimulus Bill? A furthered burden on our national debt. And after the urgent jobs could no longer be paid for and were left to gather dust on unfinished roads and rails? More unemployment.
What this President doesn’t act like he understands is this: Without real industry no one is going to have money to buy the gas that runs the cars that travel the highways that lead to the schools that prepares for the jobs that don’t exist.
The sad part is I believe Obama does understand this. Why else would he have the CEO of one of the world’s sleaziest corporations chairing his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness? Obama has called for more taxes on the rich. Meanwhile, G.E. recently moved both its medical research and production and its aircraft production to China. Immelt and cronies were excited about these moves. Ooh, boy howdy, you go girlfriends, cough, cough.
Now I’m far from being a rich woman, but even from the working class bleachers I know a lump of poop on the field when I see it. Obama’s words may sound like a cheer for Unemployed Americans, but his loyalties lay with the opposing team. And even if I am wrong and President Obama really does have concern for Unemployed Americans, his plan is doomed for failure. It is the same old same old Highway to Oblivion that evolved from the Stimulus Bill. We've heard it all before. The only hope we have to avoid that highway again is for Congress not to swallow the snake's tail again. There are only so many times even the most stalwart and resilient of snakes can regurgitate and survive.