The haggling in Congress over whether to pay the credit card bill for money already spent reveals how at least one party has lost sense of any priorities.
We're in the midst of a national jobs emergency, yet the president and Congress have lost months in the debt-ceiling sideshow. As former Intel CEO Andy Grove has been saying for some time, we need a "job-centric" economic theory and "job-centric" political leadership.
In June, more than 25 million workers were either unemployed or underemployed (including those who have given up looking for work and people who have had to settle for part-time work). More than 6 million have been unemployed for more than six months. More than 4 million have been jobless for more than a year.
This is a crisis.
The longer they are without jobs, the harder it is for people to retain skills and the dignity and self-sufficiency that come with work. Children suffer, too, when their parents are out of work (see The Bee's "Homeless kids on the increase" from Thursday). We also have more disconnected young people who can't find jobs – and can't afford or can't get spaces in college or vocational schools.
Our national leaders need to get beyond ideological rigidity to address the plight of the unemployed with practical realism.
They might begin by walking over to the National Mall and reading a 1934 quote at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial: "No country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order."
One of Roosevelt's remedies was "labor-creating, quick-acting, useful projects." Our national leaders should embrace that ethic again.
In Sacramento, we still have a visible legacy from the public works jobs of the 1930s, among them the iconic Tower Bridge. The contractor whose company built the bridge said at the dedication, "Over 1,500 men were directly employed on the job. Many hundreds more labored in the mills and the shops, rolling and fabricating steel."
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