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June 27, 2009

Jobs, Mr. President, jobs.

By Chaz Valenza

Creating jobs in a frozen credit market where most Americans are not creditworthy is now job one. President Obama should work to create jobs that will add homegrown economic vigor.


Trillions of dollars have been thrown at the banking system in an effort to restore the credit markets, and nearly a trillion dollars more in stimulus spending continues, both are efforts to jump-start the economy. 

The government is also offering Americans various stimulus inspired programs, including lower interest mortgage refinancing and new automobile purchase incentives, to those who qualify.

However, no amount of available credit, public works expenditures, or consumer incentive deals, will reverse the current economic decline because too many Americans are currently not creditworthy.  American workers have one option; earn their way out of their troubles.  Right now the opportunities to do so are slim.

The unemployment number for May 2009 was over nine percent nationally, so even by the debatable official number, nearly one in ten American workers is ineligible for new credit.  But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Mortgage and home equity credit payment statistics shout the fact that even those among us who are employed have drawn the last breath out of asset backed credit.  Credit card defaults reveal yet another layer of people no longer creditworthy.

Looking deeper, many are now under-employed and struggling to pay the rent.  If you can't make the rent, you certainly are no longer creditworthy and you have probably used the remainder of your unsecured credit on necessities.

Huge numbers of Americans are under-employed, including recent college graduates with student loan obligations, older workers whose careers have been derailed, and millions of small business owners and self-employed individuals who can no longer make a living as their spending continues, while the need for their services evaporate.

The minutia is contentious, but no matter how you look at the current situation the system has failed.  Restocking the system with cash will not automatically send the rewards of diligent work to those most deserving.  Capital has not been distributed efficiently, in a way that creates jobs, vital goods, and profits to refuel the cycle.  We can rid the system of fraud and abuse today, but the jobs Americans need will not necessarily be created tomorrow.

Without jobs that create value added, like manufacturing, mining and energy generation, nothing will improve quickly.  The small business owner will work longer hours for less money.  The educated and technically proficient will find little need for their specialized skills.  Service workers will have less and less customers to serve.

We need to invest in jobs that will create vital resources.  Americans now realize that energy is not only an essential resource, it is a strategic resource.  Without it, we are at the mercy of those who have taken the time and effort to supply it.  Homegrown energy provides a way to create jobs that create value. 

Consider a simple example: residential solar electric and hot water.  It can provide construction work tomorrow.  Every home to be retrofitted with solar must have a roof ready to perform for years to come.  The mass demand for solar products and weatherization fuels multiple industries, while homes and business become long-term power stations.

The only problem is financial.  This should be a national effort, but most of us are not creditworthy to borrow the money to make this economic and energy boom possible.  But a government guaranteed loan program could make this possible.  Isn't it about time our leaders decided to invest in the people and in the technology that will fuel a tangible economy?

Submitters Bio:

Chaz Valenza is writer and small business owner in New Jersey. He earned his MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. His current feature film project is "Single Point Failure" an insider's account of how the Reagan Administration caused the greatest tragedy of the space age based on Richard C. Cook's book "Challenger Revealed." He is a former Director of Public Information for Planned Parenthood of NYC. His website is: www.WordsWillNever.com