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Prosperity For All Part 1: Rebuilding America Through Economic Growth

This is the first part in a three-part series taking an in-depth look at the Prosperity For All recommendations.

Ever since workers began to speak together with one voice, unions have been working to bring everyone to a more prosperous place.  The idea that a person can be born into poverty then raise themselves up to be a millionaire is the ultimate American Dream.  For many this is dream is slipping further and further away.  America is stuck in a rut.  Good jobs are hard to come by.  Workers are making less than they did 40 years ago (after inflation).  Our country is literally falling apart.   While this may seem gloomy, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  We can fix all of these with a few simple steps and restore the American Dream for all Americans again.

Where do we begin?

In a new report called Prosperity For All, by Professor Jacob Hacker and Nathaniel Loewentheil of Yale University, explain some of the small incremental changes we, as a nation, can do to bring ‘Prosperity for all’.

“Prosperity economics is built on three pillars: growth, security and democracy. These three pillars support a strong, secure middle class and reinforce one another. To rebuild the three pillars of shared prosperity, we must take bold, immediate action.”

Each one of these areas alone with drastically help rebuild our sluggish economy but when add together, the sky is the limit.

ECONOMIC GROWTH

To rebuild our economy we need to invest in our economy. There is an old saying, ‘you have to spend money to make money’.  This is true when you talk about the local and national economy.  The idea is simple, if you spend money then that money will eventually come back to you when the workers spend the money you have given them.   Prosperity For All lists their policy recommendations to help spur our economy.

1. “Invest $250 billion per year for the next six years to rebuild our nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, ports, airports and public transportation systems.”

Our nation is falling apart. Bridges are unusable, roads are un-drivable, buildings are condemned for safety risks, and some areas do not have adequate power to sustain their growth. This is especially true here in New Hampshire.  New Hampshire is “one of the worst states in the country for the poor conditions of its bridges”.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE):

  • 51% of the states bridges are structurally deficient
  • 27% of New Hampshire’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition
  • New Hampshire has $570 million in wastewater infrastructure needs
  • New Hampshire’s drinking water infrastructure needs an investment of $596 million over the next 20 years

  We need to start by rebuilding our roads and bridges, then move on to water supplies and repairing our schools.

2. “Restore America’s manufacturing base by ending the trade deficit and tax incentives for offshoring.

This is one that I have talked a lot about. (see also To Preserve Our Freedoms, Bring American Jobs Home, Its time to bring jobs home, and CWA Call Center Bill).  We must stop sending our jobs overseas.  We need to rebuild our manufacturing base. This will in turn put people back to work at the same time.  New Hampshire is continuing to try to add jobs however some parts of the state lack the infrastructure to handle these new jobs.  NH Governor Candidate Jackie Cilley noted in her interview with the NH Telegraph, that a company wanted to build a call center in Berlin, NH but the ‘infrastructure’ could not sustain their needs.  They had a lack of power and internet access.  While it is important bring jobs back we need to rebuild our infrastructure at the same time.

3. “Provide help to states and localities to hire back teachers, first responders and other public servants.

In May the Wall Street Journal cited that if the public sector had retained the nearly 600,000 jobs that were cut since 2008 our Nations unemployment would be at 7.1%. This is over one full point lower than the current unemployment rate.   This leads right into the #4 point.

4. “Provide every child with an excellent education, every working family with affordable child care and every student with an opportunity to attend college.

The education system in American has been discussed at great length, and NH is no different.  Many people have claimed that NH Schools are ‘failing our children’.  This is a complete lie.  NH has six public high schools that are ranked in the top 2000 nation wide by US News, and seven more that were nationally recognized.  Education Week research showed the NH was average in their rankings of public schools.  In the same research, when they looked at a child’s ‘chance for success‘ rankings, NH ranked in the top three (1. MA and 2. NJ).

Contrary to what you may see in the local papers our schools are not failing our children it is us who are failing our schools.  NH has a very lean budget and with the massive cuts in the last budget schools were the first to lose funding.  Programs were cut.  Teachers were laid off.  Class sizes will continue to increase.  If we want to make the schools in NH better, we need to start by bringing back those teachers that were laid off and pushing more state (and federal) funding to our public education system.

5. “Ensure decent wages and job quality by guaranteeing that workers have the right to form unions and to collectively bargain.

This is an absolute must! Wages in America have been flat for nearly four decades.  To fix this we need to pass legislation to increase the Federal Minimum Wage Law.  (see also In 1968 Minimum Wage Should Have Been $10 per hour, Why Is It Only $7.25 Now?, What Can We Do To Help 50,000 Granite Staters At Once?).  Currently there are a few different minimum wage proposals in Congress.  One is the “Catching Up To 1968 Act of 2012″ that will bring wages up to $10 per hour in the next couple of years.  Raising the wages is an absolute must!

We also must preserve the rights of working people and encourage the collective bargaining process.  These rights are inherent to all workers and have benefits every worker.  Without the collective bargaining process we would not have weekends, overtime, healthcare, vacation time, or OSHA.  The collective bargaining process allows all workers to have a voice in their job.  Who knows better what is happening at a job than the people who are doing it.  The collective bargaining process help ensure that the workers are treated fairly and with respect.

Continue to part two: Economic Security

Continue to part three: Protecting Our Democracy

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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