Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

Dear Madame L,

This Memorial Day, I've been thinking of several near relatives, young men at the time, who fought in World War II. Some survived, some didn't. I remember them and honor them this day.

I'm also reminded of how during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, before WWII, these young men were able to support their families through job programs that turned around the unemployment of the time and built some of the infrastructure we now enjoy and rely on in the U.S.

Couldn't something like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) or Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) be started again these days? Maybe that would be a way to help our young soldiers as they return from Afghanistan and Iraq.


Unemployed, Too

Dear Unemployed,

Madame L thinks your idea is a brilliant one. And it does seem to Madame L like politicians on both extremes of the spectrum are forgetting about jobs.

Madame L seems to remember Candidate Obama talking about creating jobs --- and current Republicans in Congress being voted in on their promises to create jobs.

Madame L praises President Obama for his steps to improve the economy, which have been blocked and slowed in every way possible by the Republicans in Congress, who have been claiming that they're only doing the will of "The People," by which they mean the Tea Party. 

Madame L has some news for them: The Tea Party does not represent any but the most extreme, and generally ignorant, of the political right. Recent polls have shown that about 20% of Republicans actually agree with the ideas being propounded by the wealthy hypocrites who are funding Tea Party ideas, taking advantage of the political naivete and ignorance of so many well-intentioned people.

Madame L also wonders how any of those Tea Party supporters can complain about taxes and the federal government when so many of them are accepting Social Security and Medicare money they receive from the feds, through all our taxes.

Dear Patient Reader, while it may seem that Madame L has digressed, her points about Republican and Tea Party opposition to every progressive program proposed by the Obama administration applies equally to job-creating programs.

Dear Patient and Unemployed Reader, Could you become active in politics in your area? Or at least write, email, and/or call your Senator, Member of Congress, and state representatives? They are the ones who need to be reminded of the stresses being suffered by so many of us now. They are the ones who can propose, and support, progressive policies and programs to create jobs.

Certainly they need to fight against "Learned Helplessness," as economist Paul Krugman calls it. Krugman says it's a problem in the international policy/political community, not just in the U.S. He writes:

"Bear in mind that the unemployed aren’t jobless because they don’t want to work, or because they lack the necessary skills. There’s nothing wrong with our workers — remember, just four years ago the unemployment rate was below 5 percent.
"The core of our economic problem is, instead, the debt — mainly mortgage debt — that households ran up during the bubble years of the last decade. Now that the bubble has burst, that debt is acting as a persistent drag on the economy, preventing any real recovery in employment. And once you realize that the overhang of private debt is the problem, you realize that there are a number of things that could be done about it."

Yes, as he points out and you already know, people WANT to work. It's not their fault that they're unemployed. And, if "the overhang of private debt is the problem," some things could be done about it. 

But, he adds, "...any effort to tackle unemployment will run into a stone wall of Republican opposition."

And that is why Madame L urges you to write/call/e-mail your representatives. Because if you don't keep the issue before them, they will pretend like it doesn't exist or isn't solvable.

Maybe we all need to be like the widow in Luke 18 who finally got the unjust judge to do his duty:

In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 

In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 

yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming. 

Let us persist to "bother" our politicians for justice, jobs, relief for the downtrodden, and peace,

Madame L

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