Adding to Robert Reich on 'What’s Wrong with the Economy' and what a real jobs initiative would look like...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/27/2011, 12:15pm PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

"In a time of universal deceit --- telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

Ah, the 2012 election cycle is fast approaching. The Plutocrat (aka 'Republican') Party is in the process of garnering funds from far-right billionaires like the Koch brothers in order to present their usual "jobs, jobs, jobs" propaganda.

"Jobs, jobs, jobs" will come to us not only by way of paid-for political ads, but by way of corporate MSM "coverage" which will conveniently neglect to mention that the GOP-controlled House has not offered a single bill that would create a single job, or that the 2010 GOP "victories" have merely produced an all out assault on the middle-class including an effort to eliminate Medicare, an assault on the fundamental right to engage in collective bargaining, and drastic cuts in programs designed to protect the health, safety and economic well being of the vast majority of the American people at the same time they tirelessly strive to protect subsidies for the oil cartel and tax breaks for billionaires.

Against this backdrop, Robert Reich has come up with this two minute, fifteen second explanation of "What’s Wrong with the Economy..."

What Reich failed to mention

There are a couple of points that Reich, who served as Labor Secretary during the Clinton administration, left out.

Reich makes no reference to outsourcing, which was facilitated when President Clinton, with the aid of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, rammed NAFTA through on the fast track --- the critical first step in forcing the U.S. workforce to ultimately compete with the $2/day slave wages in Asian sweat shops.

The so-called "global economy" is but a mechanism for enriching the privileged few at the expense of the democratic and economic aspirations of the world's working class. It finds its latest iteration in the Korea Free Trade Agreement, which the "Economic Policy Institute estimates...will cost America nearly 160,000 jobs," and the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which combines outsourcing with the export of one of the few items we still manufacture in the U.S. --- guns! (We've recently seen the results of such "entrepreneurship" in the ATF's "Fast and Furious" operation in which that agency allowed the sale of hundreds of guns to Mexican drug cartels in hopes of gaining access to the cartels' leadership. The guns were found at crime scenes, including "the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.")

Reich also failed to mention the devastating impact upon the civilian economy as the result of the parasitic growth of the military-industrial complex coupled with trillions squandered on U.S. imperial wars of aggression and the billions squandered on the so-called "war on drugs" and the prison-industrial complex; not to mention the seldom-discussed, exorbitant price we pay for capital punishment. In CA, for example, where the death penalty was reinstated in 1978, the state spent $4 billion in order to execute 13 convicted felons. That amounts to $308 million per execution.

The final point to consider as we brace ourselves for the next round of "jobs, jobs, jobs" propaganda is this: What kind of jobs are these spokespersons for the billionaire class, like Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), who proposes eliminating the minimum wage, talking about? Keep in mind that until it was outlawed by the 13th Amendment, slavery provided all slaves with full employment throughout their waking hours.

What a true, progressive 'jobs' initiative would look like

We should focus upon the harsh reality of a global capitalist order that seeks to smash the democratic and economic aspirations of working class peoples everywhere, even as its near exclusive reliance on carbon technology threatens humanity's survival. This could start with an end to outsourcing, fair trade that demands workers' rights instead of so-called "free trade" that merely frees the billionaire class to exploit cheap labor everywhere.

A real U.S. "jobs" initiative would include an ecologically sensible restoration of U.S. manufacturing that would put our citizenry to work on green technological and related infrastructure improvements. This must be combined with an elimination of the parasitic middle-men in the corrupt, dysfunctional and deadly U.S. healthcare system by way of a single-payer system that treats health care as a right, not a privilege.

All this, along with universal, free public education, including college, an end of massive deficits, and a fully solvent Social Security system could readily be achieved by an immediate end not only of the perpetual resource wars U.S. forces have been engaged in since 9/11, but the closure of the more than 800 military bases the U.S. maintains in other people's countries. As Chalmers Johnson so forcefully demonstrated in Nemesis, the U.S. maintains those far-flung bases not for purposes of defending our citizenry but for the purpose of maintaining a corporate global Empire as it fattened the coffers of private contractors, like KBR, and private mercenary firms like Blackwater (now known as Xe).

Drastic cuts in the bloated Pentagon budget, along with a restoration of an Eisenhower level taxation on the highest income bracket (74%-91% after the first $3 million) and a restoration of Glass-Steagall and other measures designed to put an end to Wall Street and corporate gaming of the economy must all be included in any true "jobs" initiative.

We must come to understand that "public jobs" maintained by "public funds" for "public projects" that are designed to better the "public good" are real jobs.

We must also come to understand the reality behind the Plutocrat canard that jobs can exist only where there is a so-called "business friendly environment." As Greg LeRoy describes in The Great American Jobs Scam, "business friendly environment" is but a scam used to get local, state and regional governments to fork over billions by way of tax breaks, subsidies and outright gifts of land and property to corporate America for the "privilege" of private-sector employment.

The answer to the "business friendly environment" canard is public jobs for public good.

The squandering of public funds in the competition between local, state and regional entities for private-sector employment doesn't create jobs. It simply shifts public funds from one region to another as it depletes the funds needed to maintain the health, safety and education (the "general welfare") of our citizenry. Yet, in election-after-election, we find the unthinking corporate media acting as nothing more than a megaphone for the same tired "pro-business", anti-citizen lie.

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Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).