When Pres. Barack H. Obama made his speech before a joint session of Congress on his jobs bill, he spoke with an intensity that has seemed to be missing since inauguration day, 2009.
The reason is simple: the worsening economy, joined with the gnawing unemployment problem (especially among Black voters) threatens to make the nation’s first Black President, a one-term president. Falling poll numbers, of course, also played a role. And his bill, if it should pass (and that’s a big ‘if’ given the political complexion of the U.S. House) would seem to have measurable effects on the jobless rate. But, what poses a problem for this program is that it doesn’t address the 300-lb. gorilla in the room: NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and its inducement to employers to flee U.S. shores for cheaper labor abroad. Unless and until that contradiction is addressed by both the White House and Congress, jobs bills are but band aids on bullet wounds. Period.
The sad truth is that capitalism is in crisis, and it is cannibalizing every conceivable source of profit. Thus, unions are whipped into submission, public schools undermined, foreclosures are escalating, and politicians are openly for sale to the highest bidder. Unless NAFTA is either repealed or severely amended, the siphoning-off of good-paying jobs can only intensify, with direct (and deleterious) consequences for unemployment, falling or stagnant wages, declining taxation–and the further destruction of social service.
In a nutshell, the system is broken. One bill–even a $400+ billion dollar bill–won’t make it work.