The Real Solution? JOBS!

According to Annie Shields, a blogger on The Media Consortium, “it looks as if election-year strategies are trumping any actual problem-solving efforts from Republican lawmakers. In the midst of one of the worst unemployment crises in U.S. history, Senate Republicans killed a bill last Thursday by a 56-40 vote.

“As congress carries on with the seemingly impossible task of helping the unemployed while keeping Republicans happy, over 15,000 progressives and 1,300 organizations will convene in Detroit this week for the U.S. Social Forum (USSF) to explore alternative solutions to the jobs crisis.

“Democrats trimmed over $ 20 billion in unemployment benefit extensions from the bill to appeal to Senate republicans and Blue Dog Democrats. The efforts were to no avail, according to the Michigan Messenger. In addition to extending emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, the Senate bill would have increased the Medicaid funding and prevented a 21 percent pay cut for Medicare doctors.

“The defeat came less than a week after President Barack Obama issued a plea to Congress to pass a jobs bill, citing the nearly double-digit national unemployment rate and the slow rate of recovery.

“Despite the urgent need for federal assistance to mitigate our sky-high unemployment rate, Republicans have maintained their opposition to any new spending. As The Iowa Independent reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has dismissed the need for emergency aid, instead bashing the Democrats for what he called ‘fiscal recklessness, plain and simple.’

“McConnell went on to say that ‘even in the face of public outrage, Democrats are showing either that they just don’t get it on this issue of the debt, or that they just don’t care.'” –

We’ll leave it to Steve Boren of the Washington Monthly to reveal the inconsistencies in the Senate Majority Leader’s rhetoric. As one example, Mr. Boren cites McConnell’s opposition to the President’s proposed jobs bill, because it would have increased the federal budget.

“And yet,” Mr. Boren states, “McConnell had this to say about the problems plaguing the nation:

“‘Right now, among other challenges, we have a debt crisis, a job crisis, a housing crisis, a financial crisis, and an oil spill that the American people clearly don’t believe the government is effectively responding to.’

“First, McConnell promises to obstruct the passage of a jobs bill because dealing with the jobs crisis will increase the deficit; then he bemoans the government’s failure to deal with the unemployment crisis, among other things. It seems that McConnell abandons conservative talking points when they’re not politically expedient, but maintains conservative inaction and obstruction when it means standing firm against new spending.

“Populist rhetoric from Conservatives who blocked the bill is cold comfort to the 15 million Americans who are currently unemployed. The news of the Senate’s vote to kill the jobs bill is perhaps most discouraging to the thousands of ’99ers’, those who have been without work long enough for their unemployment benefits to expire. Long-term unemployment is hitting older workers especially hard.

“As The Minnesota Independent reports, the unemployment rate for people aged 55 and older is higher than it’s been since 1948. And there’s evidence that age discrimination is exacerbating the jobs crisis for these older workers.

“Any economic stimulus would likely be welcome in Michigan, where over 10,000 activists are convening this week for the second USSF in Detroit. Michigan has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation – a staggering 13.6 percent – and unemployment and the economy will be high on the agenda at the 2010 USSF.” –

Chance are pretty good, however, that last Thursday’s 56-40 vote will be even higher on that agenda. That staggering (but fudged) 13.6% unemployment rate in Michigan is even higher than the nation’s average unemployment rate (13.3%) between the years 1929 and 1939, but because there was a light at the end of the tunnel in those Great Depression years, no one was pushing the panic button.

World War II was on the horizon and shipbuilding was a major part of the preparations for that global conflict. The Great Depression and World War II are acknowledged to be the most important economic events in the history of the United States. That Great War, in fact, ended the Great Depression. The U.S. Maritime Commission, a New Deal agency established in 1936, provided the one-two knockout punch by supporting the establishment and expansion of shipyards around the country. The Long Range Shipbuilding Program was implemented by the Commission as part of the mandate of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, and as the war drew closer Emergency Shipbuilding Programs would soon eclipse the Long Range Program in both size and scope.

We need a new Emergency Shipbuilding Program in order to create new jobs. It’s the only way this country can avoid an economic and social disaster. Each revitalized shipyard would provide employment for about 30,000 workers, and because statisticians have determined that each shipyard worker requires the support of approximately 16 workers offsite, our unemployment worries would be over.

Our economy would be seeing about 50 million new paychecks every week, and paychecks translate into buying power, which translates into demand. To accommodate this demand, overseas manufacturers would require container ships in order to satisfy the appetites of the new U.S. shoppers – those U.S. shoppers who, coincidentally, built the needed container ships. Neat.

And smooth. Nobody gets hurt. Contrast this euphoric situation with what we have now. The 15,000 progressives assembling at the USSF meeting in Detroit this weekend aren’t happy campers, and the 56-40 vote in the Senate is sure to light some fuses in that throng.

Detroit’s a tough place. It’s near Michigan, isn’t it? The state with the 13.6% jobless rate. Right?