The headlines from the last presidential debate focused on President Obama challenging Mitt Romney on issue after issue. There was a less noticed, but no less remarkable, moment when Mr. Obama agreed with Mr. Romney on something — and both were entirely wrong.
The exchange began with a question about the offshoring of American jobs. Part of Mr. Obama’s answer was that federal investments in education, science and research would help to ensure that companies invest and hire in the United States. Mr. Romney interrupted. “Government does not create jobs,” he said. “Government does not create jobs.” . . .
So, they agree. Government does not create jobs.
Except that it does, millions of them — including teachers, police officers, firefighters, soldiers, sailors, astronauts, epidemiologists, antiterrorism agents, park rangers, diplomats, governors (Mr. Romney’s old job) and congressmen (like Paul Ryan).
First, the basics. At last count, government at all levels — federal, state and local — employed 22 million Americans, with the largest segment working in public education. Is that too many? No. Since the late 1980s, the number of public-sector workers has averaged about 7.3 for every 100 people. With the loss of 569,000 government jobs since June 2009, that ratio now stands at about 7 per 100.
Public-sector job loss means trouble for everyone. Government jobs are crucial to education, public health and safety, environmental protection, defense, homeland security and myriad other functions that the private sector cannot fulfill. They are also critical for private-sector job growth . . .
That means the economy suffers when government cuts back. A report by the Economic Policy Institute examined the effect of recent cutbacks at the state and local level . . . If not for state and local budget austerity, the report found, the economy would have 2.3 million more jobs today, half of which would be in the private sector.
The government does not create jobs? It most certainly does. And at this time of state budgetary hardship, a dose of federal fiscal aid to states and localities could create more jobs, in both the public and private sectors.
Read the rest of New York Times editorial The Myth of Job Creation here.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) offers a best practice example for getting the nation back to work in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The CCC was one of the most successful New Deal programs and appealed to people across the political spectrum and class lines. CCC employed 3 million young men, planted 2 billion trees, slowed soil erosion on 40 million acres of farmland, and developed 800 new state parks. Other New Deal Projects built over 40,000 schools.
Read here for the KCET Departures article If You Want Jobs and Justice, Keep Our National Parks Open by The City Project’s Robert García.