Let’s Get Real on Jobs

You know what’s wrong with the American economy, Bucko? You, that’s what.

Yeah, yeah, it’s true that the reckless global gambling schemes of Wall Street bankers are what wrecked our economy — and, yes, Congress and the Federal Reserve have used trillions of our public dollars to bail out miscreant bankers, while ignoring the plight of people like you whose jobs, businesses, homes and middle-class incomes have been devastated by banker greed. And, sure, it’s also true that corporations are hoarding $2 trillion in cash and getting billions of dollars a year in subsidies from taxpayers like you, yet refusing to hire Americans or to make job-creating investments in our country.

But blah-blah-blah, Bucko, this does not excuse your refusal to do your duty as an American consumer. CEOs say that they won’t start hiring until you consumer slugs get out there and spend, spend, spend.

And don’t use the whiney excuse that you’re out of work or mired in debt — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that he has looked at macro economic statistics and concluded that you’re just being irrationally negative about the health of our economy. “Households seem exceptionally cautious,” declared the perplexed Fed chairman recently, suggesting that your lack of confidence in the economy is a psychosis that’s fueling a larger depression. Yes, chimed in another Federal Reserve banker, “it’s hard to have a robust recovery when Americans are so dispirited.”

So, hey — perk up, America! Stop waiting on Wall Street, Washington and corporate chieftains to do something. Forget economic reality — just pull out your credit cards, put on a smile, and march to the mall.

Wow, I can’t tell you how much more confidence I have in our economic future knowing that America’s corporate and political leaders are so insightful and in-touch. How about you?

By the way, President Obama has also joined the perky posse of national leaders who’re urging Americans to be more upbeat about the economic doldrums we’re in. “Shake off all the naysaying and the anxiety and the hand-wringing,” he recently told us, sounding a lot like a football coach telling a player to shake off a concussion and get back in the game.

The president’s pep talk came the day after he made his “bold” jobs proposal to Congress. But Obama’s plan is more Walter Mittyish than Rooseveltian. While it does include some useful provisions to help stem the loss of still more jobs (especially those teachers, firefighters and other public employees being offed by Republican governors), it essentially consists of more corporate tax breaks — a form of bribery to induce enormously rich corporations to hire American workers.

This is the same old same old that Washington keeps throwing at the problem and — hello, Washington — it’s not working. Sure enough, corporate chieftains say they’ll gladly take the latest handout, but we should not expect them to go on a big hiring spree. Mostly, they’ll use the money to cover the few people they were going to hire anyway — and pocket the rest.

Nontheless, Obama is now barnstorming the country, rallying crowds to demand that Congress “stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy” by passing his plan. Fine … but what about the corporate circus? And the Wall Street circus?

It’s time to stop coddling these gluttonous narcissists. America is in crisis, sinking toward depression. The president should really get bold by calling out and shaming corporate executives who suck up America’s wealth, then turn their backs on us, as though the only loyalty they owe is to their own avarice — none to their country. Likewise, he should kick the bailed-out bankers right in their ample butts and insist publicly that they start making loans to America’s smaller business that do want to create good jobs in our country.

Let’s stop begging and start demanding.

Jim Hightower