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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Create Public Jobs


Send this letter to your elected representative, mayor, city council member, state legislator:

Dear Congress Member, or Senator, March 29, 2011

Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky has presented a bill to raise taxes on extremely high incomes, incomes over $450,000 a year, the top one percent. That is, 99% of Americans are unaffected with higher taxes. (You can learn more about it at or at her web page.) Schakowsky sat on Obama’s deficit reduction commission; she brought forward an alternative plan that would cut $400 billion from the federal budget and also provide $200 for a public jobs program. The Bush Recession left the federal budget with an immense hole, the job market reeling, the housing market and construction industry in misery, while the worst offender, the financial system, self-destructed.

Please support, co-sign, and PUBLICIZE this bill. The Republican message is to "Cut taxes and cut government spending." Will the Democrats support an alternative?

You know, Rep. ____________, your constituents deserve to know that the most wealthy 400 Americans (the Forbes 400) own more property than the least wealthy half of Americans, 155,000,000 Americans, and that the bottom 40% of families or households own a mere 0.3% of the nation's private assets and on average these households have savings of less than $2,200 (according to Edward Wolff at the Levy Economics Institute, writing March 2010). He concludes that the least wealthy 24.1% (76 million Americans in the world's wealthiest nation) have no savings at all --- despite the fact that our economy creates $46,000 of value per human being and over $125,000 per household each and every year.

The top one percent earn more income than the bottom 60% (each group earns approximately 20% of the nation's income). This sounds incredible but it is supported by numerous scholars, and repeated by many economists. See the report “Striking It Richer” by U.C. Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez (available on the Internet). While a small minority do very well, one of every seven Americans eats food purchased with food stamps (over 45 million Americans) and one in four children since November of 2009. Our income distribution does not match our ideals, it resembles the ratios of many failed nations.

There are fewer private sector jobs today than 10 years ago, about 4.8% fewer, according to Professors Hughes and Seneca at Rutgers University, July 2010. From 1980 to 2000 the economy added 38 million private sector jobs, only to shrink by 5 million during 2000 to 2010. How can we use the word “recovery” when 25 million adults are idle and our industrial capacity is 72% utilized?

Only 1 in 2 workers (half the workforce) has a full-time full-year job paying above the poverty level; the other half are either out of work but looking (9%), working part-time (32%), or working full-time full-year for below poverty wages (10%) -- See for confirmation on these figures. Yet again our economy generates over $46,000 per person or over $125,000 per household.

How is it possible to have poverty in such a wealthy nation? Under these conditions poverty is possible only by a stunning mismanagement of the economy by the government. We should create jobs, raise wages, raise the Earned Income Tax Credit, and tax the wealthiest who have more money than they can use productively. Banks and corporations are sitting on a Himalayan hoard of cash. Private wealth has no productive outlet as consumer demand has been crushed. Government should create jobs as it did successfully between the years 1933 and 1936 when the unemployment rate fell from 25% to under 10% (according to Marshall Auerback writing for New Deal 2.0, 9.21.10 and 8.30.10). He concludes, “the Roosevelt administration reduced unemployment from 25 per cent in 1933 to 9.6% per cent in 1936.” It rose up to 13 per cent in 1938, but then again government job creation further pushed down unemployment to below 2% during the war years 1943, ‘44, and ‘45. Following this period we continued with very high taxation on extremely high incomes, a rate of between 70% and 90% for forty years plus (1938 to 1984) on very high incomes. Extraordinary prosperity and growth resulted. The wealthiest 10% never in 40 years received more than 35% of the nation’s income, but now they receive around 50%. This program I suggest is not socialism, it is the American record of the most prosperous economic growth in American history.

The wealthiest 1% of households, about 1.2 million households, earn on average $1.3 million a year and own on average $18 million in savings; the sum of their wealth exceeds $20 trillion or 37% of all private wealth. With the extra tax revenue from Rep. Schakowsky’s plan we could create a massive public jobs program as advocated by the Economic Policy Institute, the Chicago Political Economy Group, National Jobs for All Coalition, economists Dean Baker, Robert Pollin, Robert Kuttner, Phillip Harvey, Senator Bernie Sanders and many others.

I suggest you use numbers when you explain to your constituents, just saying "unequal" hardly conveys the gravity and extent of inequality. A consequence of ignorance is that voters vote against you and other progressives. Any person in his right mind knows that one person out of 100 does not do the work of 60, and CEOs do not do the work of 300. Support the Schakowsky plan and her deficit reduction plan as well. Thank you for reading. You can contact me here:

Thanks. Ben Leet -- 3.30.11

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