One thing that always puzzles me in the ongoing discussion about jobs… there’s hardly any mention about public-sector workers, except in reference to “wasteful governemnt spending” or “big government”. Thanks to the incessant drilling of the GOP, Americans have been conditioned to think that ALL taxes are bad, and ALL government spending is wasteful. Some people even question why we have a government. Instead, the President’s job is to somehow “free up” and encourage the Private Sector to give everyone a job. If he hasn’t done that yet, then he’s failed as President.
The truth of the situation is that there are many private market forces the government just can’t control, particularly when dealing with the European financial crises. It hits home when our exports numbers diminish, and that slumps demand for American businesses. As powerful as the President and Congress may be, they cannot control the rate of private hiring and investment. Those decisions are made by the corporate shareholders. If you’re not a shareholder, you don’t get a say.
But what does government have EXCLUSIVE control over?? PUBLIC INVESTMENT. Public-sector jobs are created by the government. Every teacher, fire-fighter, road repairman that you encounter is a public sector worker. These are the jobs that the Obama administration continues to try and create, only to get shot down by Republican forces in Congress. Democrats have tried time and time again to send much needed money to state governments, but as it has been blocked, those states started aggressive layoffs (Does ANYONE remember the American Jobs Act of 2011?). Our public sector has been literally in a free fall. And much of those cuts were led by Conservative States. With roads crumbling, and our kids’ class sizes ballooning as teachers are laid off, our states and cities are hurting. If we re-hired our state and local workers, it would not only help to restore our communities, but also add spending revenue that is shared with the private sector. Public investment ultimately leads to private investment… the two are inextricably linked.
But here’s the kicker… we are the shareholders in the government. We pay for those roads and bridges, we pay for our schools, our parks, our sidewalks. And as shareholders in government, we also have a say in how the money is spent, who controls it, and how it progresses. If we don’t like it, we vote our leaders out, and the results change. Government is much more than just waste and excess. Government is us.
For our nation to truly recover, we have to vote for politicians that understand the reality of the situation. If Congress were willing to act, we could create 1 million new jobs this year, and put people to work by making our whole country better. Just imagine our roads and bridges getting repaired, making schools better for all of our kids, and keeping our streets safe with consistent police patrols and firefighters that don’t have to be paid minimum wage. Government jobs are real jobs… and it’s high time someone stood up and started defending them.