Updated: January 23, 2012 2:34AM
The latest unemployment figures give a reason to consider that the recovery of the American economy is still a long way off. With reported joblessness at 9.1 percent, and actual joblessness quite higher due to the reported rate measuring only those collecting benefits, it is plain to see that whatever we are doing is not working.
That said, it is incumbent upon me to admit to being like the average American when it comes to economic issues. I can balance a checkbook, but I know little about what makes our economic engine run. This is precisely the problem when citizens like you and me try to decipher what the talking heads in media and the politicians in Washington, D.C., are telling us about the economic forecast. They can all prognosticate, but they cannot run away from the facts.
The main fact is that there are able-bodied people who simply want to work and support their families. They do not want something for nothing, they do not feel entitled to anything other than an opportunity to achieve the promise of citizenship in this great country. They want to pursue the American Dream.
Unfortunately, the current state of affairs has this “dream” looking more nightmarish every day. People are still losing homes at an alarming rate, while government entities play games like reassessing the value of your home to increase property taxes in reaction to property tax caps. Herein lies perhaps the crux of the problem. Is government hurting or helping the economic recovery?
As stated, I am not an economist but I can read reasonably well and understand word meanings on a consistent basis. This simply means that with some research, I was able to decipher certain messages sent to us by our politicians regarding economic matters.
After careful research and a bit of old-fashioned common sense, it seems that our leaders consistently hoodwink “we the people” as it relates to job creation. Most elected officials of both parties say that if we vote for them, their number one focus will be job-creation and economic revitalization. They say things like, “if you vote for me, I will see to it that my administration creates jobs.”
As promising as this sounds to people out of work, or underemployed, it is patently false as a premise. Government in and of itself does not create jobs, not even the jobs of those in government. The reason is that because government makes no product that it sells for profit, every dollar spent comes from the private sector — that is the tax dollars of people like you and me. That’s right, even when they print more money, what they are saying is that the resulting inflation will be the burden of the citizen.
Every public sector job, including teachers, police, fire and especially politicians is paid for by the dollars earned in the private sector. It is because you go to work and pay your taxes, these people have jobs. As thankless as their jobs may be, public sector workers owe taxpayers as well as we owe them. It is not a one-sided relationship.
Consequently, it is in the politicians’ best interest to make us think that they have jobs galore, just waiting for creation. There is no elected official that can create a job as an elected official. All government can do is set the atmosphere so that it is conducive to private sector growth. Indeed, it is true that many of the corporations we dread are directly responsible for job creation.
This brings us to what seems to be the abject failure of the government spending spree called the “stimulus.” The promise was that nearly $1 trillion of new spending by our government would get us out of the economic downturn. Accordingly, unemployment is over 9 percent and the housing market is still in shambles nearly three years after the influx of this money.
Of course, both sides of the political aisle will blame the other, which is ironic because when government spending is out of control, there is always enough blame to share between the two major political parties. The truth is that government cannot spend its way out of recession no more that you and I can spend our way out of debt.
This means that our political leaders must face the very real circumstance that private sector industry, like a plant in season, must have the environment in which to grow. Does anyone like a corporation that is run amok? Of course not, but we need businesses to hire people so that the millions of Americans who want work will be able to secure it. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Is there any wonder why jobs go overseas?
This means that we must stop allowing politicians to bamboozle us into thinking they have jobs to spare. We must demand that our leaders get serious about negotiating long-term tax policy that allows businesses to forecast and project accurately their climate for growth. If a business knows its liabilities long-term, then it can secure expansion in the short term. In other words, expansion means hiring and hiring means jobs for people. It is time to quit playing politics with the lives of Americans. Let’s get back to work.
Raymond C. Dix Jr. is senior pastor at Berean Fellowship Church in Gary.