Well, I see from my morning paper that the Congressional GOP is proposing to address the national debt by slashing funding for such frills as home heating assistance and job training. Our compassionate conservatives do remain adamant about protecting wealthy “job creators” from any additional taxes, though.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone; the GOP’s current ideological rigidity has proven impervious to evidence suggesting that keeping tax rates ridiculously low does not spur job creation. As many rich people will confirm, they are more likely to create jobs when poor people have the means to purchase their goods.
As long as those in Congress are playing fantasy economics, let me offer my own fantasy prescription for what ails us.
We have two big problems right now (okay, we have dozens, but I don’t have solutions to all of them): the erosion of America’s already inadequate social safety net, and the lack of jobs, especially for people who don’t have specialized skills. What if we created a true safety net, consisting of a basic income level for those falling below a set poverty level and single payer medical coverage for all of us? And what if, as part of that income support, we required the able-bodied to work for the government? I can think of all kinds of jobs we could create that would improve our local communities: taking care of our parks, assisting teachers in our schools, cleaning streets and alleys, tutoring…the list is endless. At the state and federal level, jobs could include repairing our deteriorated infrastructure, a la FDR.
This should pacify the folks who believe that anyone needing public assistance is by definition a parasite (somehow, their own use of Social Security, Medicare, police and fire, public streets, etc. doesn’t count as government assistance). And it would put people who need work in jobs that need to be done, but aren’t being done because the ideologues have been busy trying to fire every public worker, on the theory that someone working in the public sector teaching our children or protecting our property or overseeing the construction of our highways or administering our tax system doesn’t REALLY do a job–that only work in the private sector “counts.”
We all know this won’t happen. Instead, we’ll just protect the wealthy and screw the unfortunate. Welcome to the brave new America, compliments of Congress.