Jobs – or the lack of them – are the single most important issue in America today. As many Americans know, we have a jobs crisis – not a deficit crisis, and as Congressional members filter back to Washington, DC after the Labor Day weekend, they need to immediately take up this critical issue.
Our fellow citizens are suffering more than they ever have in their collective lifetimes. Our best workers sit idle, while the work of rebuilding the country goes undone. People with degrees, with multiple degrees – cannot find work. The thousands of young college graduates who just accepted their degrees – there’s no jobs for them. There are no jobs for the returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan. Millions of our jobless fellow citizens would love to become working, tax-paying members of our communities again.
Unemployment rates just went up. The national unemployment rate is an official 9.3% (July); in California, it’s a dismal 12.4%; and in San Diego County, the unemployment rate is 10.4% (June). But these are the “official” rates – and hide those who have given up looking for work. This makes the actual rates that much higher. There are an estimated 600,000 people in San Diego County who are either unemployed or underemployed – that’s out of a County with 3 million residents.
Plus, 232,000 San Diegans are on food stamps. Over-all, 48.6 million Americans are on food stamps. This is incredible – nearly one out of six Americans on food stamps – in the richest country in the world.
The disparity between the very rich and the very poor in America is the greatest it’s been in one hundred years, in a century.
Until there are jobs – plentiful jobs – until people start working, paying taxes, making purchases and consuming, America will be in a recession.
Invest in America’s Infrastructure
We need to invest in American’s infrastructure – this is where the jobs can come from. We need to rebuild our crumbling bridges, dams, levees, ports, water and sewer lines, railways, airports, roads and public transit – and yes, even our highspeed internet needs investment and expansion. Many parts of rural San Diego County still have “dial-up” internet access – something out of last century.
We need to locate and identify our crumbling infrastructure – and show them to the politicians. Let them know; ‘here’s a crumbling bridge’, here’s a road that needs fixing. We need to repair, rehab, replace or remove the infrastructure that needs fixing.
Anyone who has lived in San Diego knows how bad our water and sewer lines are. They’re constantly breaking and overflowing.
Our public schools need to be rebuilt. Many are older buildings and facilities – which cost more to maintain in the long run than building new schools. For instance, in San Diego, many public schools lack air conditioning, and young students are expected to study, learn and take tests in the often very hot and debilitating heat of their classrooms.
Create 21st Century Energy Jobs
We need to invest in American businesses that can power our country with innovative green technologies, like wind turbines (although we make them safer for birds), solar panels, geothermal systems, hybrid and electric cars, and next-generation batteries. We must pressure our local, state and national governments to make it happen.
We can put Americans back to work making our homes and buildings energy efficient. Do you realize how many people we’d put to work by installing solar panels on top of every house and building in San Diego County?
Creating good, green jobs for the country and for California should be our priority.
Oppose SEMPRA’s Plan to Outsource Green Jobs
SEMPRA Energy – the master corporation over our own SDG&E – has a plan to export up to 15,000 green energy jobs to Mexico. They have asked the US Department of Energy for a presidential permit to construct a cross-border transmission line called Energia Sierra Juarez to import electricity from SEMPRA facilities in Mexico. If granted, the line would cross the border near Jacumba in San Diego’s east county.
A new report claims the project will cost jobs and loss of tax revenues in the U.S., particularly Imperial County, where the unemployment rate is the nation’s highest at 27.9%. SEMPRA, of course, disputes the findings as “pure fiction.”
The study, “Should Green Jobs Be Outsourced: A Case Study of Lost Jobs and Lost Opportunities,” was authored by Dr. Peter Philips, professor of economics at the University of Utah. His study found that building renewable energy in Mexico instead of in California will result in loss of up to 15,000 U.S. jobs and nearly $300 million in lost local, state and federal tax revenue. View the full study .
Make Work Pay
Not only do Americans need jobs, we need jobs that pay more than just the very minimum. We need jobs that pay a decent wage, as Americans do have the right to fair minimum and living wages. American working people also have the right to organize and collectively bargain; plus equal pay for equal work.
We all know that women make less than men – and we need to equalize this disparity. Not only that, recent studies are showing a growing gap between the pay of white workers over that of people of color and minorities. This needs to be continually addressed. Yet everyone is being ground down. The economic pressure is on all workers regardless of color or nationality. While disparities exist and widen, the weight of the Great Recession is on all of us – except the mega-rich.
Corporate assaults on basic workers’ rights need to be simply outlawed – they’re un-American and go against basic American values and ideals.
Old Ideas Worked: WPA, CCC, and CETA
As we contemplate enacting public work programs by the Federal and state governments, is there anything in our national past that gives us a clue to where we should be headed?
Well, there certainly are: they’re the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) of the Depression years. These government programs initiated by President Franklin D Roosevelt employed tens of thousands to counter the throngs of unemployed at the time.
It was the WPA that built the County of San Diego Administration Building. The CCC and WPA built much of the infrastructure of Los Angeles.
Also, a program enacted by President Richard Nixon when the country faced 7% unemployment was CETA – the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. Many people now in government got their start with a CETA job.
Governor Jerry Brown’s new plan: change tax code
Gov. Brown just recently released a plan to increase California employment. His plan is to change the tax code, which would increase revenue from companies that employ the bulk of their employees outside California – now they get a tax break; it would create tax breaks for companies that hire in the state or buy business equipment here; it would give tax credits for companies of up to 50 workers for new workers they hire in the state; and it would give businesses 3% to 4% sales tax credit for new equipment purchased in our state.
What Can We do In San Diego County?
Here in San Diego County we can do a number of things and employ a number of tactics:
- We can keep the pressure on elected representatives and other officials with events, rallies, etc;
- Attend the Labor Day Rally for the Jobless, noon, Horton Plaza Park, downtown San Diego.
- We can locate and identify local infrastructure that needs repair, replacing, rehab, or removal;
- We can target local employers and businesses who violate our interests (like SEMPRA)
- At the same time, we can reward local businesses and employers who support good jobs;
This is just a start. We are only limited by our imagination. Join the conversation, join the movement for jobs, and join the movement to change America.