FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Paycheck President

What if President Barack Obama had simply announced a “Friday Paycheck”?  That is, a priority above all else to get money to people who need it this Friday and every Friday thereafter?  Call him the Paycheck President.  Forget the bailouts, the reimbursement bonuses, the Citibank stockholders, Goldman Sachs profiteering, the swap holders at AIG, or all the people who invested in them?  Who are they kidding?  They need money more than working people, or the multitudes ripped off in the mortgage scams, or the millions of laid-off private and public sector employees?  Of course they don’t.  They are the people who took the proceeds from a decade of high productivity and stuck it in their pockets, not yours.

And, by the way, they continue to do exactly that.  The people who underpaid their fellow Americans year after year and blamed the victim for the credit crisis.  What kind of economics gives them a place before others?   It’s called, “too big to fail” and it’s one of the greatest scams ever perpetrated by any American president, ever.  It may have started under George Bush, but make no mistake: Barack Obama owns it now.  Those trillions of government dollars belong in people’s paychecks and with every passing week the amount in our Treasury diminishes, and with it the prospect of shoring up the lives of millions of American families.

Could it really be any worse for those families?  With little prospect of getting a good job anytime in the foreseeable future?  Especially for the mounting numbers of unemployed people under 25 years old who face astronomically high unemployment rates?  Check out Spain or Egypt.  For the 400,000 people who gave up looking for work altogether in July?  For the 35 million Americans getting help with food?  The Nation magazine is now actually publishing a guideline to homelessness—the best blankets, dry ground, safety in numbers, etc.  Life under bridges?  An economy built on bank late fees?  On nine months of COBRA subsidies?  On dumping inventories at a record rate?

Of course Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insists that a profitable financial system is “a necessary precondition to a stronger economy.”  But exactly whose economy is that?   Geithner is of a class of people who conveniently excluded the wage scheme – stagnant – from their calculations over the years and then was taken aback when a “bubble” formed.  Imagine that. High interest debts and mortgages, fees… the term is “financial products” and what they produce is your demise.  Why would anyone believe Geithner’s math now?  Or have any regard for Rahm Emanuel, the guy who hates to waste a crisis?  Some scratched their heads as he recently argued that rising deficits required a scaled-back stimulus, only to reverse himself shortly thereafter, calling for a second stimulus. The guy who is going to get it all done at once?  The point is that either way we lose because none of that money gets you paid on Friday.

In the Friday Paycheck scenario – not where a contract is a contract when Larry Summers says it’s a contract – the speculators get what they get.  Pieces of the multi-trillion dollar speculative escapade would be picked over the same way toxic assets are being picked over now.  Bankruptcy is the new M&A, report the financial pages, and deals are soaring.   So let the vulture capitalists do like vultures. Commercial property loans, as much as $3.5 trillion outstanding, are facing default.  Let the vultures feast.  Afterall, vultures, canaries… what’s the difference?  Is your money on the line?  How did you do March to June?  When the S&P surged, the biggest three-month gain since 1933?

By the way, what was the basis for that surge?  How do so many companies – several hundred of the S&P 500 — report worse-than-expected revenue growth and yet strong results? By “squeezing costs mercilessly– and the biggest cost for most businesses is labor,” reported the Wall Street Journal.  No wonder private sector employment goes down year after year, despite calls from some corners of Wall Street, like economist Ed Yardeni, who said this month: “The important thing is for businesses to stop firing.”  A stockholder could sue for that.

That’s exactly why a Paycheck President needs to come forward.   What could be more healthy for the US economy, and more needed, than paying the mortgage or rent this Friday, buying groceries and goods this Friday?  Stop the vicious bank raiding of minority America? Don’t the West Wing millionaires cringe when they read that the purchase of school supplies is down?  Isn’t their boss, eyes refocused after a good gaze into the Grand Canyon, glowering at them?  Do they really party when a 0.1 per cent decline in unemployment – completely trumped up – is announced?

Every teacher job guaranteed for the coming semester.  Expand Medicare, Medicaid and the VA today and hire health care workers to fill those ranks right now.  Get them paid this Friday.  Crack the whip at DOT – where reports of a dearth of shovel-ready projects have been leaking out for months — and get people paid now.  Get DOE going on alt energy.  Pay them to plan and get ready. FDR managed to employ – directly – 8.5 million Americans, some of them for public art projects, for concerts. Do that, too.  Hire, hire, hire.  Pay them.

Back to those school supplies.  Sure, those are somebody else’s kids.  But how long does Barack Obama  think people will listen to lectures about responsibility?  Lectures that “education begins at home”?   That’s easy to say for kids, like, say the Obama kids, who go to a school chockfull of labs, music, pools, art, trips… and for whom after school is chockfull of labs, music, pools, art, trips.  Trust me, by the time they get home they have their fill of education.  Who wouldn’t?  And what does that leave for Mommy and Daddy?  They did their part making their bank accounts chock full.  A Paycheck President thinks about your bank account, too.

School supplies, food, electronics, furnishings, clothing, …for most goods and services prices were down more in the last year than in any of the last 60 years.  Still, despite lower prices demand is down and its return hardly assured, unless of course you do Geithner math.   That’s the math of  a “jobless” recovery.   Just as Bill Clinton sold NAFTA as a jobs program, Obama’s jobless recovery is a jobs program, too.  Or as the president likes to say: “It’s going to take some time.”

A Paycheck President wouldn’t say that.  He would know that there is no substitute in micro or macro terms for getting people paid this Friday.  He would know that it only works if you pay them well.  What possible gain is there to be had by keeping so many people over a barrel?  And as people get their lives together, not amidst the utter political and economic chaos – and continued profiteering – that is the Obama presidency, let’s debate how we build a better economy beyond Friday.  There’s gotta be something better than bank late fees.

CARL GINSBURG is a tv producer and journalist based in New York. He can be reached at carlginsburg@gmail.com

More articles by:

CARL GINSBURG is a tv producer and journalist based in New York. He can be reached at carlginsburg@gmail.com

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS class struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail