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Not Bad, Mr. President! A Vision.

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Not bad, Mr. President -- maybe even a home run, although you failed to hit the State of the Union ball out of the ballpark.  But it was refreshing to see Democrats and Republicans actually sitting next to each other, even if the latter showed much less enthusiasm for your State of the Union Address than the former.  There was Speaker John Boehner clapping tepidly and looking as if he were about to cry (again.)  Still, I would grade your speech at around a B+.  It is wisely said that a speech need not be eternal to be immortal.

You certainly hit most of the current themes, Mr. President, from jobs to the deficit, from jobs to health care, from jobs to education, from jobs to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't tell.........well, you certainly get the idea that at nearly ten percent officially (more realistically, when discouraged and underemployed workers are inlcuded, more like fifteen percent) unemployment is totally unacceptable and full employment must be a top national priority.  What you don't seem to get, however, is that many of those jobs are never coming back.  Speaking as an economist, America may be the Land of the Brave and the Home of the Free, but it will continue to fail to be the Land of the Employed unless major structural change occurs now.

One such structural change which you could -- and indeed should -- have launched last night is the creation of a massive Jobs Project comparable to FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps.  You might call it Rebuilding America, and it should most certainly include Green/Environmental jobs along with the repair of all of our crumbling highways, ready-to-fall bridges, decrepit buildings, and other signs of national decay.  Well, it's not too late: how about launching R.A. now?  The necessary funds can come from your really ending our two costly and fruitless wars, and not starting any new ones.

And then, there was all that State of the Union time spent on so-called Competitiveness, a Republican buzzword if there ever was one.  While your emphasis on this tired and trite concept reinforces your recent choice of the head of General Electric to implement some undefined new economic policy, it is not going to go anywhere.  What is really needed is major structural change in the American economy, starting with a system which includes all stakeholders in the decision making: stockholders, workers, consumers, and the public (and public interest.)  Let's face it, Mr. President: the classical competitive model of capitalism is as dead as the dodo bird in a world of mega-corporations like General Electric and Wal-mart.

That's why my doctoral dissertation outlined a new economic system I called Cooperatism, where all those stakeholders have a voice in corporate decision making and economic progress.  You ought to remember what George Bernard Shaw said a long time ago: the difference between Capitalism and Communism is that in Capitalism man exploits man, whereas in Communism it's the other way around.  We desperately need a non-exploitive economic system for the Brave New America of the 21st Century.

But you know, Mr. President, there is something we need even more than Cooperatism: we need a sense of purpose, of vision, of our own evolution as a nation and as a people.  How about launching a Mars Program to put astronauts on the Red Planet within fifteen or twenty years?  We are approaching the technology to achieve this monumental goal, have we only the national will, as JFK did in the 1960s Moon Project.  How about the launching of a crash program to really, really cure many cancers?  How about the launching of a program aimed at going beyond the 1960s Civil Rights movement and really bringing our many diverse groups of Americans -- racial, ethnic, religious, and so on -- together as One People Under God, our supposed national motto? 

All of that is just for starters, Mr. President.  There are untold opportunities before us, if we only grasp them.  And we really can do it, Mr. President -- YES, WE CAN!  And, Karpe Diem -- we can and must start now.

 

Author's Biography Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of Pownal, (more...)
 
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President Barack Obama made a good start in his St... by Eugene Elander on Wednesday, Jan 26, 2011 at 5:27:34 AM