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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    How to work without a job?

    Election season has long since passed, but the squabbling and divisiveness in Washington remains at an all-time high as the House of Representatives and the Senate struggle with the passage of their respective stimulus plans. Officially the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the stimulus plan bears consequences that will impact the hopes, dreams and realistic options of generations to come. More pertinent than sewing a wound, stopping the bleeding should be priority number one.

    Pending passage of the newly agreed upon plan in the Senate, the stimulus package will have to be retooled as the House and Senate must reach a middle ground on greatly differing provisions. As reported by the New York Times, the House version of the bill places more emphasis on “”helping states and municipalities avoid wide-scale cuts in services and layoffs of public employees, while the Senate cut $40 billion of that type of aid from its bill.””

    As the budget crisis continues to weigh down on the UA community and Arizona at large, it is no secret that the adjusted budget for the fiscal year 2009 accounts for $500 million in federal stimulus money. Even with these potential funds, the cutbacks have been seen across sectors and are placing Arizona’s quality of education, or lack thereof, in peril. Across the nation, states have been affected by the financial crisis, which has extrapolated previously-benign miscalculations into malignant budgetary pitfalls.

    With the estimated job creation at 3-4 million jobs, the federal stimulus looks to attack an economy that has already left more than half a million people unemployed from January alone. However, the current climate in Washington will pit the House against the Senate in a confrontation that could further stall the stimulus. Caught in the middle of this gridlock are millions of workers with no jobs, little money and even fewer choices.

    Emerging as a new head of contention against the stimulus plan, newly declared Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele has made conclusions about job creation that may leave some puzzled. Asserting that government jobs are not real jobs, but “”just work,”” Steele arbitrarily redefines the word “”job”” to match his rhetorical goals. Why?

    “”These road projects we’re talking about have an end point,”” Steele claims. So unless we start adopting the practice of certain Japanese firms of providing lifetime employment, we will be unable to provide real jobs.

    Unconvinced by his logic, the U.S Conference of Mayors has produced a series of reports that serve the purpose of giving Steele a few ideas to ponder. According to the fourth report, there are 779 cities with a total of 18,750 infrastructure projects that are classified as “”ready to go”” – they meet local infrastructure needs, contribute to local economic development and can be started shortly after receiving funding. Though this temporary “”work”” is really just a hand out, the report somehow reaches the conclusion that these measures are capable of producing more than 1.5 million jobs through 2010. These figures would require just under $150 billion investment, which is just over three times the proposed $46 billion allocated for infrastructure projects.

    In case Steele is unconvinced by the rhetoric of these reports, he may want to check the implicit economic gains to be realized from such “”work.”” The implementation of infrastructure brings about the necessity of countless other industries. As a man with three summers of experience working construction and demolition, I can attest to the cross-sector relevance of construction projects.

    In the current job market, construction workers will find themselves traveling great distances to work on and complete projects. These work circumstances result in economic boosts for hotels, restaurants, both chain and local, entertainment venues and large consumption of fuel, for both travel and running equipment.

    Some may claim that such boosts are narrow and short-lasting. It is true that infrastructure investment has an endpoint, as Steele so ingeniously deduced. However, the sheer volume of demand for infrastructure improvements represents the chance to boost multiple sectors of the economy for the next several years. We must not inhibit our action because our choices have flaws. There is a time for smart, innovative reinvestment to steer our country in the most prosperous direction. However, now is the time for recovery, which grows more unlikely with every day that passes without relief.

    -ÿDaniel Sotelo is a political science junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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