Thursday, July 11, 2013

Distracted By Shiny Objects

In recent weeks there has been a lot of media coverage about any number of important topics.  Gun control, voting rights, gay marriage and now immigration reform have saturated the daily news cycles.  Throw in Syria, Egypt and add a bit of George Zimmermann and you have a cornucopia of shiny objects distracting us from the number one issue affecting every American…the economy.
So we thought we might take a moment to step back from the headline grabbing stories and reflect on the sputtering engine that determines whether we can keep a roof over our heads and food in our children’s bellies.  This might sound a bit mellow dramatic to some but probably not to the ever increasing millions who are struggling with these basic needs.
The Dow averages hover at record highs.  Corporations are making record profits.  The “job creators” are getting richer by the day.  So why is the economy struggling?  Why are the unemployment numbers so high?  Why is the middle class shrinking?  The answer lies in the self inflicted wounds administered by our partisan federal, state and local government officials.
Here are a few examples.
Tax Code:  Our corporate tax rates are excessively high as compared to all the other industrialized countries.  Our corporate tax code rewards companies that invest and hire overseas while punishing those that invest and hire here in the states.  The result is more money for corporations and their shareholders, less jobs and lower wages for American workers.  It is a simple fix to change the US tax code to more equitably serve the US citizenry.  But partisan politics won’t let that happen.
Jobs:  The economy has generated positive private sector job growth for 40 straight months.  Yet the economy has been unable to generate the total job growth necessary lower the unemployment rate and increase the GDP.  The reason is that while the private sector jobs are growing government jobs are being slashed thanks to the austerity measures implemented by Republican controlled state legislatures.  In their zeal to balance their budgets they have kneecapped the unions and laid off tens of thousands of teachers, policemen, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.  While these partisan policies may produce a handsome balance sheet they are devastating for the middle class and the economy.
Sequestration:  Perhaps the most asinine of the self inflicted economic wounds are the sequestration cuts.  Designed to be so usurious they would never be allowed into effect they are now the law of the land.  The effect is to cut social safety net programs that are critical to the survival of an ever increasing number of Americans.  Given the shrinking middle class and the rise in the number of Americans living below the poverty line; the net effect of the politically motivated sequestration cuts on our economy has been devastating.
The American economy, the strongest economy in the world, brought to its knees by its own elected leaders.
Now THAT is a story worth following.

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