Congressman Conyers Presents "Jobs Bill" to Congress

Great news! Congressman John Conyers, Jr. presented his jobs bill to Congress at 2:30 PM on March 28th, 2012. John Conyers, Jr. is in his 80's, served as the lawyer for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and is presently serving as the congressman for Detroit's District 14. His jobs bill presently has two names as well as two bill numbers. It is known as the "Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act" as well as the "Work Opportunities and Revitalizing Our Communities Act". Until March 28th it was bill number H.R. 870. (H.R.= House Resolution.) It has been assigned a new number: H.R. 4277. Many people call it H.R. 870/4277 in order to avoid any congress-induced confusion. (The numbers don't correspond with the names.)

The bill aims to employ any and all Americans who are ready, willing and able to work, offering job training when necessary. You're probably wondering how it differs from any of the other jobs bills being considered and why it is that neither Congress nor the president is able to end unemployment. Well, this may come as a surprise to you; but, Congress as a whole, for a very long time, has not been interested in ending unemployment -- probably from before I was born. It might also come as a surprise to you that Congress does the math so as to determine whether or not it is "fiscally sound" for them to create jobs for all Americans -- or to do things that would benefit Americans in other ways. Then again, maybe you're not surprised at all. This begins to explain their lack of effectiveness as a body. It also highlights their ulterior motives and the fact that they are not making decisions with our best interest at heart. Obama is on the record as having told Congress to "do the math". He was making the point that we must raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to provide social services to the needy. Congress is doing the math alright, though it's not the math that the president wanted them to do.

What's more is that Obama has been accused by some members of Congress of fighting "class warfare" from the White House. He should have called them out on their implicit lack of concern for those in need -- and still has the chance to do so. "Class warfare" is a Marxist term which refers to the fight by the poor and their allies to redistribute the wealth of a nation so that all people will have their most basic necessities provided -- through meaningful employment and/or social programs. That said, Congress was implying that President Obama shouldn't strive to have people's needs met. This was a prime opportunity for the president to confront Congress and ask them who they are really working for -- for the wealthy only or for all Americans whether rich or poor. His failure to do so only reinforces the notion that he is just a pillar of the failed capitalist system. Nonetheless, he has time to save face before November.

All of this brings us to the strong suit of the Conyers jobs bill which is its ambitious goal of employing all able-bodied Americans. Congress, in recent history, has refused to make any effort to bring unemployment below 4%. Their "logic" is that, once unemployment has dropped to 4%, it costs more to employ a person than they will collect in tax dollars. Therefore, it is not "worth the effort". Howbeit, 4% of the American work force is six million people! Let's bear in mind that the actual number of unemployed people is always higher than what the government reports it to be, as they only count those who are receiving unemployment benefits. This number doesn't include those who are unemployed but not receiving benefits. Neither does it include the under-employed, part-time workers or day laborers. Some estimates put the actual unemployment rate at twice what the government reports it to be. The Conyers bill says that it is the right of all Americans to have a job and that the government will continue its efforts to employ people until every person who wants a job has one. (Much remains to be said about living wage.) It behooves the government to get as many people as possible working since governments feed on tax dollars. And if that's not reason enough, there is the moral obligation that Congress has to do what is best for its constituents. But who ever said that Congress was moral?

Oddly enough, Republicans tend to use the "morality" of working hard and holding your own as their reason for cutting social programs. They want people to "work hard and pull themselves up by their boot straps" (assuming they have boots in the first place). Yet, they don't want to ensure that there are enough jobs to go around -- in essence, sending people on a wild goose chase. They'd much rather watch a person who is strapped for cash and can't afford the gas or public transportation to do a job search or travel to interviews spend what little money they have looking for a job that is not there, while losing everything they own (including their home), than to provide social services or create jobs. To their credit, they've created the "hard work" that they want Americans to do, though a failed job search doesn't exactly qualify as meaningful employment.

Living in Washington, DC, I see that both the federal and local governments share at least one negative character trait. Both have a tendency to cut social services while failing to provide sufficient jobs or job training. (This seems to be a national trend.) It is as though they seek to provoke the people to revolution. Let's face it: At the end of the day, people's struggles and the demands that they place on government are mere manifestations of their will to survive. And they need jobs or social services to do so. When the government provides neither, it has proven itself to be insufficient -- whether it is due to incompetency or intentional disregard for their constituents. Long story short, the governments of this and any nation MUST provide jobs or social services for everyone -- allowing them to survive. The longer they fail to do either, the closer we come to revolution.

Furthermore, the same members of Congress who want Americans to work hard have themselves proven to be "morally lazy" by failing to aptly consider what new value system might be pertinent for our time. They tout longstanding values which most Americans were taught by their parents while failing to acknowledge the impossibility of living by such values in the current economic moment. The current moment brings with it a new moral imperative -- one which places the onus for creating a new societal structure that enables people to acquire their basic human necessities squarely on the shoulders of Congress. If they weren't so "morally lazy", they would have figured out that an individual can't be blamed for failing to hold their own or contribute to their society unless conditions exist which allow them to do so. And when such conditions don't exist, it is the job of the government to create them.

Now that I've addressed what Congress as a whole DOESN'T care about -- people who aren't wealthy -- , let me address what they DO care about. Wall Street has become something in the way of a sacred cow and Congress is willing to pump hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into its coffers -- even when they are essentially throwing good money after bad. H.R. 870/4277 flies in the face of this governmental tendency by levying a .25% (quarter of a percent) tax on all stocks and bonds that change hands. So, for every $400 that change hands on Wall street, $1 would go toward funding H.R. 870/4277. Though this is a minuscule tax, it may be the very reason that the bill doesn't pass. But let's hope for the best.

The contents of this post make it very clear that I don't have what it takes to become a "relevant" member of Congress -- much less a Republican congressman -- and that I actually have characteristics which pretty much ensure that I wouldn't last long in Congress, if I could get elected to begin with. I'm honest and moral. I'm concerned with the poor, homeless and those who are not wealthy. My moral considerations go beyond the simplistic -- but important -- morals that I was taught as a child. I've studied social theory. I've imagined a new society in which all people survive and thrive -- not just a few ultra-greedy corporatists. It would also seem that Congressman Conyers is one of a dying breed of legislators who is putting the final touches on what he hopes will be his crowning accomplishment. Let's hope that the moral imperatives which would be satisfied by the passage of H.R. 870/4277 prevail over the capitalistic tendencies of our governing body.

But don't just hope. Take action. Now that the bill has been presented to Congress, it is time for us to spread the word far and wide that a new jobs bill is being considered. We need to create a national movement in support of this legislation and pressure Congress into passing it. Our work doesn't end now that the bill is before Congress. in fact, it has only just begun.

Comments

beverly tran said…
Thank you for your dedication to employing the people of The United States. You are truly the spirit of advocacy through the internet.
Anonymous said…
Thought you may find this quote interesting:

There is no future. We have evicted ourselves from our own cities, rendered our agriculture poisonous, criminalized the poor, aggrandized the rich, honored the stupid and ridiculed the intelligent…I have no solutions, no wisdom to offer…Whilst Rome burns, I take up my little chisel and I carve a panoramic apocalypse of my own…and if you want to see it, you’re more than welcome. – Stanley Donwood, 2012

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