More than halfway to our destination, the pilot’s voice interrupted our flight as we soared through the mountains.
“Folks, looks like a storm’s brewing. Please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts. Flight attendants, please secure the service carts and return to your seats. There’s going to be a good deal of turbulence.”
We returned to our seats, terrified. Everyone was quiet as the plane started to tremble and shake. Somewhere in the back of the plane, a baby started crying. BAM! The plane began a fast descent, losing altitude rapidly before recovering. Suddenly the lights go out. Pandemonium breaks out as the flight attendants jump up and begin shouting questions and instructions all at once into the darkness.
As if from on high, the pilot’s voice comes back over the intercom and announces, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is just too hard. We’re going to turn the plane around and go back to where we started. Then, we’ll swap out the flight attendants and try a different route.
And scene! The preceding is my theatrical take of the GOP’s Pledge to America. I love this document…I think this is a well crafted, refreshingly decisive, beautifully conservative manifesto of an invigorated organization that is focused and determined to be the new guard in Washington. It is almost poetic.
But poetry is not politics. And politics are not plans.
This document does not consider the reality, the enormity, the psychology of our economic situation. Famed finance guru Dave Manuel put together a quick synopsis of previous recessions and recovery times. The conclusion: the shortest, mildest recessions took the country on average of six years to restore key indicators to pre-recession levels – starting when the recession ended. I think everyone would agree that, if latest recession has ended, it certainly didn’t end long ago. I’m more inclined to agree with history and independent economists – it’s gonna take as long as its gonna take. Recovery of the job market is not going to happen soon regardless of what party is at the helm. Period.
This simple tidbit lends the GOP’s Pledge to America about as much credibility as Lindsey Lohan’s rehabilitation. Sure, it sounds like a good game, even goes through all of the steps but, at the end of the day, with the same conditions and the same Washington politics, we’ll still be strung out…er, strung along in the same way.
Let’s stop looking at rates for a minute and look at discrete jobs. According to MSNBC, there are “14.9 million out of work and looking for jobs.” Closing the gap would require several quarters of economic growth. This is more than a notion. They go on to say that jobs would need to be created at the rate of 125,000 per month. With that rate being the only factor, full recovery is nine years away. Maybe that theory is right, maybe not…but it certainly sounds more realistic than the expectation that recovery could happen in a matter of months.
Both parties need to quit playing and focus on the things we can control to engender economic growth. A strategy based solely on job creation is a gross oversimplification of the factors that brought us to this crisis point in the first place. Our economy has been on the decline since late 2007. We are a beleaguered nation, mentally exhausted from the constant pounding of a sensationalized political fight that uses our fear and our ignorance as weapons against us to swing the tide at will.
There are some complicating factors to our current economic situation. Skittish companies started jettisoning jobs rapidly in 2007. Since then, worker productivity has drastically increased as workers improved their performance to keep jobs that were perceived to be hanging on by a thread. As a result, the jobs that were lost are indeed lost. Regardless of how much you lower taxes — they are simply not needed anymore. To further that pain, the latest recession was the final death knoll for a good number of manufacturing industries in the U.S. Going forward, the focus will be on high-tech manufacturing in addition to the good ole American manufacturing stronghold e.g. agriculture. Our learning curve in the high tech areas is high. We are lagging behind Asian countries in these areas that require highly skilled workers. We may have to face the reality that our manufacturing contribution to the GDP will just be smaller until we close the gap. That doesn’t sound like growth to me…but sometimes I’m hard of hearing.
We need a focused effort on re-educating and re-training the American workforce in order to make ourselves more competitive for the new jobs in the new sectors in the new economy. This is going to be a tremendous hurdle given our abysmal world rankings in public education and our overwhelmingly skittish corporations who are waiting for consistent demand before hiring.
The truth is this current administration seems to have largely ignored the sense of urgency of the American people. We’ve spoken and spoken consistently. Our primary concern is unemployment. Not just unemployment but unemployment nonetheless. Among other things, we want jobs. Obama and his team look like they’re doing everything under the blue sky except creating jobs. But I don’t believe they’re ignoring the very issue that is driving the success…or failure of this entire presidency. The problem is they haven’t been forthcoming or realistic about their capabilities to begin with. Change is coming, yes, but not now and not soon. I think they’re doing everything in their power but I also think they’re powerless. Ask anyone who’s given birth, it’s going to take as long as it going to take. But reality doesn’t win election when folks are scared, hope does. Just as the Democrats did in the 2008 elections, the GOP are now seeking to corner the market on change.
Lesson learned: we don’t need any more promises or pledges. We need a plan and we need patience and perseverance. We need real participation from a bi-partisan Congress that is accountable to the American people to work together. Changing the guard at this point will just change the Party of No moniker from the Republicans to the Democrats.
Go vote, America. Vote to stay the course. Research your local candidates and vote only for those candidates, regardless of affiliation, with a willingness and a proven record of abandoning party politics and working toward a common goal of an America restored to greatness and stability, regardless of what party is in charge. Restore control to the American people. Restore accountability for cooperation to Congress. Demand answers from the current administration. Stalk your local politicians. Be the boss of them. Vote. Vote. Vote.
And turn off the damn T.V.
And ask more questions about Ron Brown (and if I disappear for asking too many questions about Ron Brown…then ask lots of questions about me.)
OK, the last two were just personal preferences.
But always remember – “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”
Now, we return you to your regular programming already in progress….