The problem is that even though there is lots of anger on the street that anger is mostly misdirected, i.e. the Tea Party, or misinformed like those who are blaming Obama for not being angry enough about the gulf oil spill. But for all the throw the bums out anger on the street the politicians in Washington don't feel that anger every day; what they feel every day is touch of money that streams into their campaign coffers from the big players in finance and business who have everyday access to Washington politicians. These people are not personally hurting. What is a little unemployment to them? What they worry about and pay for access to talk about is regulations and tax breaks and the threat of inflation that is out there somewhere if we don't tame the deficit. So we get a tepid response to the real and festering unemployment crisis. And despite an epic disaster in the gulf it is still drill-baby-drill, put off only briefly until the cameras go away from the gulf.
Policy makers have acted as if they are unaware of the magnitude of this crisis. They have behaved as though somehow, through some economic magic perhaps, or the power of prayer, this ocean of joblessness will just disappear. That’s a pipe dream.
Even if we somehow experienced a sudden, extraordinary surge in job growth (which no one is expecting), it would take a very long time just to get back to the level of employment that we had when the recession started in late-2007.
...For all the money that has been spent so far, the Obama administration and Congress have not made the kinds of investments that would put large numbers of Americans back to work and lead to robust economic growth. What is needed are the same things that have been needed all along: a vast program of infrastructure repair and renewal; an enormous national investment in clean energy aimed at transforming the way we develop and use energy in this country; and a transformation of the public schools to guarantee every child a first-rate education in a first-rate facility.
This would be a staggeringly expensive and difficult undertaking and would entail a great deal of shared sacrifice. (It would also require an end to our insane waste of resources on mindless and endless warfare.) The benefits over the long term would be enormous.
Bold and effective leadership would have put us on this road to a sustainable future. Instead, we’re approaching a dead end.
There is only one person who has the bully pulpit and who could make the case for a real jobs bill and a real energy policy. I am still hopeful but also increasingly worried that another crisis (or two) is going to be wasted.