Back to Work

Bob Herbert, the NY Times’ outstanding OP-ED columnist, had this to say yesterday:

“Another month, another half-million Americans out of work. The ranks of the unemployed have now stretched beyond 11 million, and millions more are underemployed – working part time, for example, because they can’t find full time jobs.

“As bad as this sounds, the reality confronting working men and women is actually significantly worse. Some 2.6 million jobs have been lost since December 2007, and as the Economic Policy Institute tells us:

“‘Just to keep up with the ever-expanding labor force, the economy would have needed to create 1.5 million jobs over the last 12 months. This means that the 2.6 million jobs lost leaves us over 4 million jobs short of what the economy required to provide employment for the American work force.’

“We’re in economic quicksand. The official unemployment rate (a notoriously rosy statistic) is 7.2 percent. But more than one in every eight workers in America is jobless or underemployed. That’s 21 million people. And it’s not even counting the so-called discouraged workers who have given up looking for a job …

“This is an emergency. There is one overriding mission for the incoming Obama administration when it comes to dealing with the economy, and that’s putting Americans back to work. Forget the G.O.P.’s mania for tax cuts. Forget, for the time being (but not forever), the ballooning budget deficits. Forget the feel-good but doomed-to-fail effort to play nice-nice with the rabid politicians of the right who were the ones most responsible for ruining the economy in the first place.

“Put the people back to work!” [Toldja he was “outstanding”!]

Job creation is the very idea we’ve been promoting. We’ve been recommending the revitalizing of about 100 of our shipyards, as we did during World War II, and at about $ 100 million per facility ($ 10 billion) the cost would be much less than the proposed $ 700 billion to $ 1 trillion stimulus package advocated by the incoming administration. Mr. Obama’s advisors estimate that some 3.5 million to 4 million jobs would be created as a result of the stimulus package, but that number is a far cry from the 50 million jobs generated by the shipbuilding program we’ve described.

At the tail end of our Vol. XVII, Art. 30 commentary we wrote about the number of vessels our 50 million shipbuilders would be building, the positive effect that 50 million weekly paychecks would have on our economy, and the effect that thousands of U.S.-owned and operated container ships would have on world-wide trade. We should keep all this in mind.

We ended by saying, “He who builds ships builds worlds”. We should keep that in mind as well.