Paying for the work we need done

A lot of the cause of violence in the United States and around the world is unemployment. Human beings want to work. I’ve seen the deep satisfaction of people just out of prison when they have a place to go every day, fellow workers, regular paychecks. And I see, in the growing murder rate in St. Louis and other cities, the aimless despair that is a partner of joblessness. The same is true in Guatemala, Brazil, Nigeria and, I’m told, Saudi Arabia where Saudi young men are expected to live on oil revenues while foreigners are hired to do the work.

Here’s a partial list of the work that needs to be done: manufacture and installation of wind turbines, solar panels, non-polluting cooking stoves, water purification systems, deep well pumps; sustainable farming; construction and repair of roads, housing, bridges, mass transit. Health care, education and environmental clean-up services deserve paragraphs of their own.

Where will the money come from to pay for all these goods and services? I’d go after the military budget first. We’ve seen that bombing doesn’t stop war; it just increases the misery. And if we ever use our nukes, that’s the end of us.

In the U.S., state-by-state, we would save a lot by releasing prisoners and, in half of the states, including Missouri, expanding Medicaid.

I would also encourage raising taxes. This is investment spending and it will reap taxable income. For the most part, throwing money at a problem really helps to solve it.

Job creation is an issue of governance. Yes, the private sector creates more jobs than the public sector -- but public policy is the economic driver. Where would the auto industry be if Eisenhower hadn’t built the “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways”? Yes, he got that word “defense” in there. That takes me back to cuts in the military budget. Our foreign aid program could operate the “Global Defense Clean Water System” or “Planetary Defense Renewable Energy, Inc.”

We have to think big.

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