It’s not just about jobs, stupid!

Published 3:18 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2017

It all began in 1992 when James Carville, one of Bill Clinton’s advisers, coined that famous bumper sticker message for the election, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Democrats have never had a good one since. Yet in every subsequent campaign, the focus has remained on the economy and growth. That now has atrophied into the simplistic jobs, jobs, and more jobs mantra embraced by Donald Trump who declared he would be the “greatest job creator in history” and that we all “would be so rich.” Still, such a narrow focus comes with blind spots now blithely ignored. Here are just a few.

Generally regarded as the shining incarnation of tax cuts and naked capitalism, Ronald Reagan gleefully cut personal and corporate taxes, a move that became the sanctum sanctorum, the holy of holies, for Republicans. It now has become an unchallengeable dogma that needs reexamination and rethinking. After all, even slaves had jobs in the relatively fully employed, pre-industrial prosperity of the Old South.

Reagan also believed in a balanced Federal budget, something that now seems impossible regardless of the party in office. Reagan never had one, but it’s a good sound byte, isn’t it? Reducing indebtedness? Government expenditures? Now Congress simply “resolves” to have a budget even as they struggle to keep government running for a few more weeks. Education? Reagan began a litany of abolishing the Department of Education and, with the jobs mantra, education except for “practical” purposes became a casualty. We now have a pervasive anti-intellectual atmosphere where “higher education” and “elites” routinely are savaged, public schools are starved, and “frivolous” courses like art, music, and languages are cast aside. Then, too, who wants to learn anything or do something you love just for the sheer joy of it? Who pays the bills anyway?

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The environment? Pollution? Who cares? North Carolina doesn’t have an environmental “protection” agency, just one that guarantees a “quality” decided by the jobs folks, a standard unfettered by little if any “regulation,” a nasty job-killing concept. Global warming? A hoax. Increasingly devastating hurricanes and world-ending fires are just “natural” disasters. Which do we rebuild, Texas, Florida, or Puerto Rico? Who pays their debts and creates more jobs, all those corporations in oil-rich Texas and Florida or those welfare-dependent Hispanics in Puerto Rico, really just Americans on parole. Empathy? Sympathy? They cost too much.

Foreign policy? It’s all a matter of trade, debts, tariffs, sanctions, and currency exchanges. China? North Korea? NATO? The UN? Japan? South Korea? Pay up or else. Who cares about all those post-war alliances and treaties that have protected the world from a devastating war for more than seventy years? Why bother to learn about other cultures and the complexities of the Middle East, Europe, and Asia when money “talks” and is a universal language. Besides, Putin, really not such a bad guy, might allow a Trump tower in Moscow and China won’t call in the family’s debts and loans or close Ivanka’s bling factories run by wage slaves. Isn’t that why you run for office? To get rich?

The blind spots and dangers seem endless but marginal if we all have jobs, most without health care benefits and little or no social security, Medicare, or pensions. Save yourself. Don’t be a ninny. Take a pill or two if you get worried. Racism? Sexism? Poverty and its evil twins, inequality and corruption? The national debt? All magically will disappear as we “rise up” with more jobs created by “trickle down” economics where the rich will spend more on new companies and innovations and little on expensive homes, designer clothes, yachts, exclusive club memberships, private planes, vacation homes, and thoroughbred horses. Content in our homes, we can all watch Wall Street, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Billions to learn about capitalism and its benefits. After all, “greed is . . . good” for you and for America. Or is it? What’s in your wallet? Or future?

Milton Ready, Tryon, N.C.