I’m not sure how much there is to gain by browsing through comments on New York Times articles, and yet I've already wasted an hour doing so. And then, just as I was about to close my computer and rejoin society, a sidebar popped up, suggesting I read another article, “Little Federal Help for Long-Term Unemployed.” The title looked interesting enough, so I clicked. Then I scrolled. I skimmed. I glanced at a chart graphing unemployment since the 1940s, until eventually those jagged inclines and dips reminded me of mountains I hiked in South America a few years back. I stopped daydreaming, scrolled some more, and landed on the comments section.
To be upfront: yes, this is another one of those election pieces. And yes, after reading this, I hope you’ll consider (or reconsider) your vote. Since we’re all pretty fed up and tired of this race, I tried to be sly and ease you into the topic, but now I just feel bad. Today, we’re talking jobs.
The most recent jobs report showed meager economic improvement. Compared to 148,000 last month, only 171,000 new jobs were created in October. To be fair, we are in our 25th consecutive week of job growth. To quote economist Paul Dales, “The report shows that things are better than we’d expected and certainly better than we’d thought a few months ago.”
Yet Romney had a point when he said, “The economy is virtually at a standstill.”
The article’s comments told a similar story. Some had been out of work not just for months, but for years. Other voiced concerns about low wages, high prices or lost benefits.
I read and read and I couldn’t believe it.
You know, the other day I asked my roommate if the economy had any affect on his family. His mother is a schoolteacher, his father an engineer for the State of Virginia. He said no. His parents have been at their same jobs for decades, as have mine. Despite all the newscasts and articles on unemployment, from where I’m sitting, financial security sometimes feels like a natural part of life rather than the privilege it actually is. . Even at my university, the majority of the graduating class will go into finance or consulting, as the Bains and Goldmans and Barclays recruit on our very campus. Money, power, and wealth by any means necessary seem to be the ultimate goals in life.
The collapse of 2008 had to do with a lot of things, but especially with this mentality. I’m sorry to say, but we cannot always trust the private sector, and capitalism is a ruthless, selfish son of a bitch. So it astounds me that Mitt Romney – though he supports some regulation of the financial industry – would like to replace many of Obama’s regulations with looser ones.
If the economy is now at a “standstill” where will it be after Romney’s deregulation? I can only imagine the financial industry will stick their fingers back into America's pocketbook until they're caught red-handed, which is just a nicer way of saying until we collapse again.
And let's not forget the other parts of the government Romney plans to privatize.
1. FEMA – I’m sure Hurricane Sandy relief efforts would’ve been just as prompt.
2. Student Loans – because Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac haven’t done enough.
3. Marriage Equality – well, that’s not privatization at all. I just wanted you to know Romney supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as strictly heterosexual.
4. Health Care – because Massachusetts’ free health care law was so five years ago.
Now, I may be oblivious to how bad these years have been, but the economy is a big thing, guys. Obama’s plans may not have brought the growth he promised, but how could he have known which ways the economic winds would blow? He was talking pre-Greece, pre-Spain, pre-four more years in Afghanistan.
What we do know though, is that one way or another, there are more jobs this month than the last. We're growing, albeit slowly.And if we follow through with Obama’s plan for another four years, it’ll bring more job security. Of course, we can never be sure of these things. But surely Romney’s vision won’t work. His plan isn’t good for the economy, because a freer private sector isn’t good for the economy. If you're like me, and your bank account has no clue, history does, and history cannot be ignored.
We only have four more days until the ballot box, and then it's four more years of economic policy. You should at least vote, but if you can, vote wisely.