Human Disaster or New Reality?

     Sunday marked a new chapter in collaboration as the New York Times published an Op-Ed by Dean Baker, co-founder of  the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Kevin Hassett, senior fellow and director of economic policy studies at the American Economic Institute entitled The Human Disaster of Unemployment. Last night the two shared a round table discussion on the PBS News Hour. To say that in general they sit on the opposite side of political theory is even more obvious by Hassett's 2008 article for Bloomberg titled How the Democrats Created the Financial Crisis.  Nonetheless the two are in complete agreement that neither party was ready for the "great recession", nor is either party leading in a real recovery.

     As discussed in Knowledge Transfer a few days ago, the number of unemployed and underemployed in their 50's and 60's who've been in that state for more than six months continues to increase, as Hassett points out.  Baker points to the disparity in unemployment numbers for blacks and Hispanics.  They also point directly to the example set by Germany which single handedly is holding up Europe and the Euro.  We'll see how long that lasts, particularly given the recent elections in France and Greece.

     Germany instituted work sharing measures, and saw unemployment fall dramatically between 2005-2007, and after a bump up in 2008 (seen globally) it has hovered around 7% since.  Tax rates for Germany vary between 0% for those earning less than $10,279 (US), to 14% up to $67,913, to a dramatic 42% between there and $322,000 annually and 45% above that.  Additionally though, German citizens do not have to pay income taxes on income earned outside of Germany (see the story of Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renouncing U.S. citizenship).  The German corporate tax rate?  15%.  It's probably best we don't even consider looking at the health care system or education (covered through college for a majority of citizens) in Germany. 

     I love the study of economics, particularly behavioral economics and have read The Economist for years.  Of course most economists along with the rest of us missed the looming financial crisis in the years leading up to the collapse.  Any politician in this country running on a 42% tax rate for any income level in the U.S. isn't going to get elected here. Clearly though if experts who daily sit on opposite sides of politics can collaborate to say something needs to be done now, and not after the presidential election, maybe Washington can take notice. The longer the delays and partisan bickering over empty ideology that can't be passed in either extreme, the worse circumstances become for Main Street.

    Congress doesn't live day to day in the so called 99%, because they're all in the 1% income category, but this isn't about class warfare. It's about doing what's best for the country, so the nation that has led so much innovation and global growth for years can continue to do so.  And the American promise of equal opportunity and hope can be much more available to the majority than it is today.

     The global economic crisis has caused our organizations to collaborate in ways unforeseen in previous years whether for-profit or nonprofit, and that's good.  Congress needs to follow that example, which would give them a much better chance at re-election than negative campaign ads.  Then again, I dream of a better days, and a stronger community that provides opportunity for all citizens, regardless of demographics or current economic status.

    I would have dropped in "Dreamer" by Supertramp here, but couldn't find a reasonable version on YouTube and this fits just as well. So here's to Better Days for all of us, starting this morning.

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