It is becoming depressingly clear that President Obama, advised by Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner, the Democratic Congress and Wall Street are prepared to tolerate 10 - 20% unemployment indefinitely during this "jobless recovery", and to doggedly claim that no additional stimulus or government actions to reduce unemployment are needed.
In the absence of a positive job-creating policy, it also seems like the stimulus program of bailing out corporations has led them to a perverse incentive of laying off even more workers, to temporarily productivity by operating with short, overworked staffs, in order to fatten quarterly profits and management bonuses. It's a free market still in a free-falling death spiral, since those laid off cannot pay their mortgages, credit cards or other living expenses, threatening the solvency of the banks.
Everyday, columnists like Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman of the New York Times and Bob Herbert argue the opposite: that FDR-like work programs or subsidized job sharing programs like those in Europe are needed to stem the corrosive tide of layoffs and unemployment. These columns produce hundreds of reader comments from those who are desperate for work who have been searching for work fruitlessly.
FDR's WPA and CCC built many parks, schools, post offices, sidewalks. We could explore Germany's liberal allowances to companies to keep workers on reduced hours rather than the system perversely requiring layoffs and fewer hires.
Now the President has announced a "jobs summit" for "sometime in December". This summit needs some "grass roots" citizen input, similar to the change.gov transition site, with citizen perspectives on the issues and concrete questions for the President and his advisers and suggestions for action to be evaluated.
The interactive blogging and comment features found on the change.gov transition website and sadly lacking from the conventional Whitehouse.gov official site should be reintroduced to that site to allow for some citizen input for this summit, or other modern interactive communications methods should be deployed to allow citizens to participate in this critical debate.
NOTE: I filed this under "other", because, amazingly your site does not have "unemployment", "economy" or "jobs" as progressive "causes".
With all due respect to the other important causes, preventing the collapse of the U.S. economy by getting out of denial and "keeping it real" on the unacceptability of the sudden loss of millions of jobs is an important cause, on a par with reforming health care.
I applaud your recent announcement to convene a "jobs summit" in Washington.
I would urge you to open participation in this event by allowing the thoughts and suggestions of average citizens to be heard. This can be done by the interactive suggestions feature of your former transition website, change.gov, which regrettably seems lacking from the current official whitehouse.gov site.
The experts convened at the White House need to understand the severity of the unemployment problem and how current stimulus policies do not address, or perversely worsen, job creation by business. They need to hear a wide range of views on the damage to human capital and businesses that is caused by the current high unemployment policy and the potential consequences if this situation persists for the predicted seven years with no change in policy.
The experts also need to consider creating traditional temporary job programs of the past like CCC, WPA, NCCC, and CETA or subsidies to support employers retaining or hiring rather than laying off workers. Why can we not build parks, schools and green housing?
I hope you will open this summit to the people through the available channel of the Internet and promote public participation and transparent decisionmaking on this most important crisis facing our country and your Presidency.
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