Keith Harris – 2/26/10

American unemployment is at an unacceptable level. Despite being one of the most advanced nations in the world, we suffer from unemployment rates just below 10 percent. The number has recently begun to drop, but radical measures are nonetheless necessary to end the plight of the American worker.

During President Obama’s first year in office, he passed an economic stimulus plan designed to encourage employment by small businesses. It is largely the result of this that unemployment rates have finally begun to fall. But this is far from sufficient. Although Obama originally advocated a larger stimulus package, he was forced to accept a stimulus in an amount significantly lower than the one recommended by prominent economists. For this reason, another stimulus will be necessary to achieve the effects that the original was supposed to produce.

The main effect that the prospective new stimulus will have is the creation of new jobs, rather than the retention of existing ones. The fact that the original stimulus did not do this is a cornerstone of the argument made by critics of the new plan. In this, critics have something of a point. During the run-up to the passing of the previous stimulus, the Obama administration was adamant in contending that the plan would result in the creation of jobs. The fact that it did not led, somewhat understandably, to the anger of the public. However, had the plan been in the amount originally advocated by Obama and respected economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, it is likely that the stimulus would have been more effective.

Confusion between the stimulus and the bailouts also led to a great deal of anger within the American public. To clarify, the stimulus was a necessary response to a failing economy and continuously increasing unemployment rates. On the other hand, the bailouts were a measure which, though justified by proponents as a necessary evil to save the American economy, ended up merely rewarding corporate greed and corruption.

Also on the table is a jobs bill intended to spur the creation of jobs, particularly relating to highway programs. The bill has a significant amount of bipartisan support, though its critics are highly vocal in their condemnation of supportive republicans. The jobs bill is another important step on the path to rebuilding America’s economy, as well as its infrastructure.

Despite these two possible measures, much more needs to be done to give workers the opportunities they deserve. No stimulus plan or jobs bill will change the fact that it is much more profitable for large-scale American employers to send jobs overseas than to keep them on American soil. It would be in the interest of the American worker, as well as those in other countries, to repeal the free trade agreements which make this so. Such deals rob Americans of their jobs while reducing foreign workers to what is essentially slave labor. Not until all such agreements are either repealed or radically reformed will American laborers get the treatment they deserve.