Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It's FDR Time the Economy Needs Radical Surgery, Which Obama Might Deliver

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It's FDR Time the Economy Needs Radical Surgery, Which Obama Might Deliver

Article excerpt

The dreary job figures released by the Obama administration Friday should serve as a fire bell in the night to all Americans and, especially, to the presidential candidates' intrepid campaign staffs, that the ship of state is in trouble.

The economy created 120,000 jobs in March, half the number it created in February. The unemployment rate went down from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent, but that was because so many of those seeking jobs gave up. President Barack Obama sought to put a positive spin on what occurred, going to his fast ball, his slick verbal agility. The leading Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, eyed the figures with the solemn aplomb of an undertaker who sees a potential client looking green around the gills.

It is the American people -- not the candidates -- who will be knackered if these figures aren't rapidly reversed.

Over the past three months, jobs did grow, though at a feeble rate. At this rate of increase the United States wouldn't get out of the jobs hole until some date so far in the future that my death will surely precede it.

Like virtually every last one of us, I take this jobs situation personally. Two of my grown children are gainfully employed. A third has nearly completed a two-year graduate program and will be on the job market next month. Fortunately he is in the field of health care and, despite the best efforts of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government in muddying the waters of the health care sector, he is not likely to experience difficulty in finding employment. My fourth, a recent graduate of a frighteningly expensive institution of higher education, could be described as underemployed, teaching at a nice school but in a city she doesn't like much.

When I graduated from college, back at the dawn of time, we were actually in a position to choose -- choose; imagine -- what we would like to do. (I looked good on paper anyway.) I can only imagine what the state of today's job market must do to the spirit of new college graduates. Never mind what they would like to do. Rather, it is a question of where they can find something. As for moving back in with Mom and Dad, to do that is to be forced to totally upend the objective of achieving an education.

So, how did we get where we are and what is there to do about it?

I will not get into the question of which party or which president or which configuration of Congress is to blame. Even though I am a deep believer in history as a means of understanding and dealing with the present and shaping the future, I basically believe that one needs to start where one is and work from there.

As far as I can tell, American presidents in general come to office with a fundamental inferiority complex with regard to economics. They probably didn't ever understand the more difficult chapters of Paul Samuelson's economics textbook and feel guilty about it, but keep it a secret. …

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