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REAL ISSUES AND POLITICAL ISSUES

October 26, 2013

REAL ISSUES AND POLITICAL ISSUES

We the people have many issues confronting us as we approach the end of the year and the political season of a new year leading to the election of November, 2014. Some of these issues should have been resolved by now, but some of the Congress people have been too busy finger-pointing and making brownie points with the special interests which finance their reelection to do what they were elected to do: Govern. These so-called “representatives” in the House (and a few in the Senate) apparently feel they were elected to obstruct rather than govern, and if so, they have done an outstanding job for those they represent, i.e., the special interests who finance their return(s) to office.

They have not done a good job for the American people, who sent them to Washington to govern, not grandstand with their creation of phony issues from thin air. Americans of both parties who elected such miscreants have been cheated out of their vote by such antics designed for political harassment rather than working on positive legislation to keep America on the move. There are also “lost opportunity” costs (per economists) involved, i.e., the time these holy warriors are spending on non-governing positive legislation. The pretense these people employ in saying that such efforts are a part of their duty in “congressional oversight” is asinine by any standard; they are clearly involved in obstructionism and defamation and would be subject to libel and slander suit but for their legislative immunity.

How many who read this, for instance, believe that tea party members cannot sleep at night because of the deaths of some of our diplomats in Benghazi? How many of such tea party people really, really care for the plight of the poor and unemployed, immigrants, veterans et al.? (Can you spell alligator tears?)

Other than the almost daily passage of bills to repeal Obamacare, the House has passed the fewest bills ever this session, which comes as no surprise to those of us who are keeping track. You cannot be in two places at the same time, which when translated means that you cannot be attending committee meetings designed to determine the feasibility and desirability of passing needed legislation (aka governing) and out on the perpetual campaign trail denouncing the opposition and trashing its leadership at one and the same time, or as an old physicist correctly noted centuries ago, “Mass cannot occupy separate volumes simultaneously.” These so-called “representatives” have their own crusading agenda; they are not working on the issues we sent them to Washington to resolve. It is our agenda and not theirs in need of resolution. We did not vote to have them become TV stars.

Rather than set up phony issues so that they can be “debated,” there are real issues on the table begging to be settled, issues which affect millions of Americans, issues which, if unsettled, threaten to bring our economy down into recession or even worse. Trade reform is one such issue and unemployment/underemployment is another. As issues, they are connected at the hip, but I will discuss only unemployment/underemployment in this essay.

How important is the unemployment issue? It is absolutely crucial; all other economic problems (including current budget deficits and long term debt) depend upon how we handle this issue, and we are ignoring it in favor of showboating for the next election in an outrageous if not psychotic show of setting priorities in order of their importance. We are shutting down government and threatening to bring the world’s economy down with arguments (ostensibly) centering on “spending and debt.” The solution to that overblown concern is right before our very eyes, and we ignore it in favor of hyperbole and slander for political effect. We prefer austerity policies, which guarantee at least near recession or worse for the foreseeable future and the loss of trillions in productivity that this economy could otherwise bring to the economic table, and all because we close our eyes to the obvious solution.

The solution to the pretended crisis resulting from overspending and debt is neither complicated nor even political. It’s a matter for accountants, not politicians, who cook the books routinely to favor the point of view of their deep-pocketed campaign patrons. The answer is not to spend less, since much of so-called “spending” is not spending but rather investment. The answer is to invest in our country by putting all of our excess labor to work, and we have a backup of work to be done for the next several years what with falling bridges, pockmarked streets and roads, the great need for a new and better national electrical grid system, schools, public buildings etc. etc. etc.

So how does such a public investment policy tame our current deficit and long term debt problem? Full employment means a surge in revenues to our treasury which will in turn erase current budget deficits and reduce our long term debt to a manageable number at the same time. That issue will have been resolved. The politicians will have to come up with some new “issues” (either real or political) if they hope to get on with their lives of defamation and insult (even within their own political party as of late).

I do not understand how we can favor austerity policies which guarantee a race to the bottom for both capital (loss of overall market activity due to reduced aggregate demand) and labor (continuing importation of low wage competition and poverty from overseas) in our economy when the answer to the budget, debt and unemployment problem is so glaringly obvious for all to see.

Don’t have the money? I beg to disagree. If we have $85 billion a month in loose change for the Fed to buy government bonds to prop up the stock and bond markets so that investors are buffered from loss, then we have the money to get people to work doing something tangible (unlike in money markets) with the repair and rehabilitation of our infrastructure, schools, public buildings etc. If we can invest so generously with one segment of the economy (investors), then we can invest in our country and its people and enjoy two other outcomes in the process that our current investment in Wall Street debt and equity markets do not even pretend to address, namely (1) we resolve the budget deficit/long term debt, and (2) we resolve the employment/underemployment problem. Talk about a win-win solution!

Buffering the dividend-capital gain situation of investors is nice for the investors, but what do the rest of us get as a result? Nothing. Such largesse does nothing for the infrastructure or electrical grid work. If anything near such investment in the markets were made to put people to work and rebuild America, we would solve our money problems and employment/underemployment problems simultaneously and in relatively short order – and with the ignition of a roaring domestic aggregate demand sure to follow, even the rich among us would get richer since, as President Kennedy rightly noted, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” What are we waiting for? Let’s put America to work and solve our fiscal problems at the same time. Let’s go!  GERALD  E

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