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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/5/10

Give it to Me Straight, Doc. Will I Ever Work Again?

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In New Jersey, ninety-one county and local governments have filed plans to eliminate 1,600 full time jobs this year. Hewlett-Packard announced 3,000 job layoffs due to automation. Yeah, right, automation, the telephone automatically routes your phone call overseas. Originally it was 9,000 jobs but H-P explains that it was going to add 6,000 workers at some future point in time in sales and delivery so the actual loss will only be 3,000.

In San Francisco the new teachers union contract signed this month accepts 199 teacher layoffs. In March the city issued 700 preliminary notices of layoffs; in May it reduced the number down to 350 final notices before the ink was dry on the contract. The city will also reduce the number of instructional days by four to 176. These aren't street sweepers or line painters on the highway but college-educated schoolteachers, and since just about every school district in the country is facing budget constraints, just what is it that we expect these people to do?

Overall the state of California has sent almost 22,000 pink slips statewide this year. New York's Governor David Patterson's plan for one day a week furloughs was thrown out by a federal judge so now Patterson has fallen back on plan B: lay off 10,000 state employees beginning next year. In Illinois the state plans to lay off 30% of the state trooper force; that's another 600 jobs. The Chicago Transit Authority has laid off 1,100 employees and Illinois expects to lose 20,000 jobs in education this year. Just what is it that we expect these people to do?

Our politicians have mobilized to do the only thing they seem capable of doing anymore, organize a spin campaign. President Obama went on the road back in February to push his jobs plan to take $30 billion in TARP funds and give it to small community banks to increase lending to small business. There you have it, a broad-spectrum jobs program from the biggest banks right down to the smallest banks and nobody will be left out.

What the government calls small business and what I consider small business varies considerably. For instance, I don't consider a coal mine with less then 500 workers a small business nor do I consider a construction company with $3 million in annual revenues small. I consider the cabinet shop with two workers small. I consider a motorcycle shop with one employee small. We have no shortage of talent and no shortage of ability; we have a shortage of emphasis and our businesses have a shortage of customers.

The city of Los Angeles plans 1,761 layoffs beginning July 1. What is it that we expect these people to do? Can we ever cut budgets enough to bring back prosperity? We face a cancer of falling private employment and falling wages sifting down to state and local governments as lower tax revenues. These state and local economies then respond by laying off even more workers, which results in even lower revenues.

The President, in his State of the Union Address, called for a government-spending freeze. In Sacramento, the Terminator's state, spending freezes and state employee furloughs resulted in higher unemployment, shut downs in private businesses, and saw a higher rate of home foreclosures. It seems, strange as it sounds, that those state workers spent their money in the economy. They bought things and went out to eat, but after a 17 percent pay cut they stopped buying and stayed home while they still had a home to stay in.

The massive BP oil leak makes clear the necessity of protecting our natural resources, and the state of our economy makes it equally clear that we must protect our economic health, as well. There is no higher purpose for government than to protect the people, be it from invading armies, hurricanes, oil spills or economic degradation that's their job, for God's sake.

Giving money to banks of any size will not repair the problem. Small banks have the same phone numbers to Wall Street as the big boys. There is no money in small folks when there is more money to be made in speculation. As a banker would it be worth the time and paperwork to lend $20,000 to a cabinet shop or motorcycle shop to expand? After all, wages are falling, fewer people will be riding Harleys, and the home building industry is in the dumps. A smart banker could take that money and invest in Hewlett-Packard or gold futures or in Citigroup.

"A real economic cure must go to the killing of bacteria in the system rather than to the treatment of external symptoms." Franklin Delano Roosevelt

That bacteria is the same as it ever was: unbridled speculation, which means if greater profits can be secured on the other side of the globe, we let the home front languish in the backwaters. Guilty of being born in the wrong place at the wrong time and of majoring in Education rather than Finance, what are we, as a people, expected to do?

ATLANTA -- Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers announced this morning that "massive layoffs" will result as the Georgia General Assembly copes with a roughly $1 billion shortfall in expected revenue for next year's budget.

NEAR KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- A train pulling the last set of space shuttle solid-fuel booster segments reached the Kennedy Space Center last Thursday -- a day after the shuttle Atlantis completed its final planned mission -- in a reminder that the program is nearing the end of the line.

This means the loss of 7,000 jobs at the space center alone, and like Sacramento and Pontiac and Birmingham first the local restaurants will disappear and then the stores in the malls. Then the city will face a budget crisis and will lay off city and county workers to cope with the shortfall, believing all the while that if they cut enough it will get better in the long run. What are we, as a people, expected to do while Sacramento or Albany or Springfield cut and cut, waiting for it all to turn around, because it isn't going to turn around by itself?

It must be made to turn around.

"We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. 'Necessitous men are not free men.' People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that (more...)

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