Friday, November 6, 2009

Time to wake up, America - Are the jobs coming back?

As someone who has directly experienced the wrath of this economy, I've been anxiously wondering: when will the jobs come back?

With this morning's news that the national unemployment rate is now over 10%, its time for something a little more drastic than extending unemployment benefits another fourteen weeks. In this modern area, unfortunately, our leaders think applying band-aids to major economic wounds is politically easier than a depression era approach to this problem (Works Progress Administration, anyone?)

As a resident of New York, we know all about infrastructure. Our highways, bridges and Subways are decades old, and were built specifically with a foregone era in mind. Can these roads and Subways take another 100 years of abuse without consistent failure and maintenance? Does an elevated Gowanus /Brooklyn-Queens Expressway make sense, or should we put it underground? Should we be proactive or reactive about that possibility?

Thankfully, history can teach us a lesson or two. Almost 80 years ago, FDR was in a similar (if not worse) situation. He knew with millions of Americans unemployed that he should do something bold, and that those results would benefit everyone. So he did something never done before -- he put millions of Americans on the payroll and told them to create art, build buildings and bridges to put as back on the path of prosperity.

But here we are, a year into a very similar economic situation. Perhaps too jaded to see a real opportunity, or too afraid to be bold, our leaders gave us a small attempt at a stimulus and extended unemployment benefits. Why not take this opportunity to do something greater, as we may never have an opportunity like this again to work on our aging infrastructure?

Anyone with me on this? FDR understood he'd be called a socialist, but he had the courage to do what was right. Our current president, (who I feel and hope is just as capable as FDR) needs to follow in his footsteps. When history gave FDR his lemons, he made lemonade. There's no one questioning that President Obama inherited a field full of lemons, but how you deal with such challenges is the difference between greatness and mediocrity.

It's time for a call to greatness.

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