Advice to our president on creating jobs

Dear President Obama:

Would you think about setting aside $20 billion or so from the bailout money to create 10 to 20 million jobs? When you had that meeting with the past presidents, you probably didn’t have time to talk to Jimmy Carter about the Comprehensive Employment & Training Act. A whole lot of people in the country got their first job through the CETA program. The total number of jobs is about 15 million to be inexact. From 1976 to 1981, the program provided funds to subsidize employment in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. It was the biggest public employment program in our history that was trashed by Ronald Reagan when trickle-down economics became the national mantra. Here’s the math. One million jobs at $10,000 a year for every $10 billion of stimulus money. No taxes taken out. State and local governments to administer it and it can run nationally through existing community service and Labor Department structures. This is direct help to the unemployed, under-employed, and never employed. As you know, we have fiddled around for two years now about how to provide direct aid to homeowners facing foreclosure. The jobs program would also be a big boost of hope to young people and ex-offenders trying to get jobs and stay off the streets. These would not be “make-work” or “shovel”-type jobs. The bonus factor would be the benefits this work would provide for essential community needs: health care, job training and placement with local manufacturers, teacher aides, and computer training. There are thousands of examples of successful job-creation efforts underway throughout the country. Right here in Chicago, The Peace Corner on the West Side is able to employ 12 young men to do interior demolition on foreclosed properties to be rehabbed. Austin Polytech Academy is focused on preparing students for manufacturing and technology, linking local students with local manufacturers for after school and summer jobs. This promotion of careers in fields where there are severe shortages of skilled workers like manufacturing and nursing could be connected to the curriculum of local schools. Anyway, it’s always a kick to see a community organizer do well. I’m still at South Austin Coalition on the West Side trying to organize the neighborhood. My cell phone is 773-981-4570. And don’t forget about Jimmy Carter. He also started the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Bob Vondrasek
Executive Director South Austin Coalition Community Council

Obama’s power of inspiration

The historic inaugural week was one of biblical proportions. On January 20, Barack Obama, a man of color with family in the third world, became the most powerful human being on planet earth.  Many others, of course, have great influence and power, but no other person singularly has such a vast array of economic, political, military, and influential power as the president of the United States of America. It is easy to forget how improbable this all was a year ago. It is easy for us to forget the long torturous campaign and the sacrifices endured. A life principle is this: without tribulation there can be no true crowning achievement. With high commitment, the Obama family and their team endured stress and sacrifice, accomplishing a goal in the process that offers a world-changing transformation. Let us, however, be clear. A President Obama cannot save our nation from the perils of our present. What he can do is inspire Americans to a cause greater than our individual selves, and challenge the nation to make sacrifices to starve off our nation’s impending disaster. Surely, African Americans as well must understand that the first black first family can be of great inspiration. The Obama family’s image of fidelity and excellence can inspire our generation to look within to overcome the problems that plague our communities. Christ teaches that salvation of God always commences from within (Luke 17:21). The new president’s most transformative asset will be the spiritual power of inspiration. Americans must now be challenged to make lifelong commitments; commitments to our families, our principles, and to a cause higher than ourselves. Only high causes can call on high commitment. The scripture says to believers: “be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.”  Ironically, the call here is not a call to death, but a call to live for something higher than one’s own life. The point is: without faithfulness to lifelong commitments to God, families and communities, our present tribulations will overwhelm us. May the promise of the “crown of life” inspire us to be faithful in our obligations and covenants. There are difficult days ahead, but by working together with God’s strength, we will overcome. Yes we can, indeed.

Rev. Marshall Hatch