Op-Ed: More Should Be Done to Keep Americans Working
This letter was written in response to a recent piece by U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach.
Editor's Note: The following was submitted and written by Rich Ciamacca. To submit your own opinion pieces to Phoenixville Patch, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinons expressed do not necessarily represent those of Phoenixville Patch.
I find it interesting that Jim Gerlach has just written a piece for the Patch about jobs. I've been writing him for weeks about the subject and I just received a response this past week.
I'm guessing that a number of people have been writing him about job creation and why not? The Occupy Wall Street protests have focused all of America on the economy's affect on people right here at home and those protests have Republicans worried. Why? Because the protests struck a chord with ordinary Americans.
Ordinary Americans have borne the brunt of this economy: people who have raised their kids, bought homes, paid for health care, paid college tuition for their kids and saved for retirement are looking back at the reduced value of their homes and 401(k)s (if they still have either of them) and wondering, I didn't do anything wrong. How is this situation going to be corrected and who is going to be held responsible?
Well, the Republican answer to all of us, which lies in between lines of Jim's piece, is that it's our fault. Let me explain my position by looking at the two major issues that Jim addresses: 1) deficits and spending and 2) energy and regulation.
You don't hear much about deficits since the Wall Street protests began. The reason for that is simple: the focus of the debate has shifted and rightfully so to the economy which is in the worst shape since the Great Depression. When the private economy is not creating jobs, the government has to spend in order to spur economic activity.
I find it ironic that the Republicans who borrowed money to finance tax cuts and two wars (bonds and taxes funded all of our other wars) are now saying that the country shouldn't borrow or spend more money to keep ordinary Americans working—by building bridges and roads, or by building schools and hospitals, or by buying buses and trains for mass transit. And they've said no to every program that the President has proposed, even ones they agreed with. It's not the President or the Democrats that have failed to act, but the do-nothing, just say no Republicans in Congress, including Mr. Gerlach.
The second issue is energy and it goes hand-in-hand with regulation. And I think that I speak with great expertise on this subject. I served as a nuclear trained submarine officer in Admiral Rickover's Navy so I know something about nuclear power. And I've worked in regulated industries all of my life—from the defense industry as an engineer and manager, to the utility and pharmaceutical industries as an attorney.
Now, anyone with an ounce of common sense will tell you—after all of the energy-related disasters from the nuclear meltdown in Japan to the cave-ins at coal mines to the Gulf oil spill to the contamination of drinking water from fracking in Pennsylvania—now is not the time to have less regulation. And regulation not only requires jobs in the government sector, but adds jobs in the legal, compliance and regulatory fields in industry. And these are all good jobs with good wages and benefits.
And I'm sorry but I hate to hear Jim's whining about the price of gasoline. If he's so concerned about it, why doesn't he introduce a bill to end the oil subsidy?
Well because in the end, the economy's shape is our fault and the only way to correct it and remain in line with Republican dogma is to subsidize the wealthy with more tax cuts and pay for the tax cuts by eliminating programs like social security and Medicare. Look at the Ryan plan, the inability of the Republicans to vote on the President's jobs bill or even vote on part of the President's jobs bill. Jim's plan is the same as the national Republicans which is the same as the state Republicans and is about everything except putting Americans to work. And with the Wall Street protests, Americans are taking notice. Americans have good common sense—and they're just about ready to exercise it.
Then Jim Gerlach can get off of the public payroll and start working in the private sector. Then maybe, he'll see how difficult it really is to make a living in this economy and then he and his colleagues may also understand why a safety net and government spending is so important.
Rich Ciamacca is a lawyer who lives and writes in Phoenixville. He ran for the State House in the 157th district in 2006 as a Democrat.