Dear Joe Scarborough,
I’m 33 years old this year, which means I was born in October of 1980, just about three weeks or so before Ronald Reagan was elected. All my life, all I have known is post-Reaganomics life. I came of age as Bill Clinton was leaving office and George W. Bush, the first man I ever cast a vote for president for, was entering. I believe I am of the generation that you feel you are speaking on behalf of when you speak of “generation theft.” So while I duly appreciate your concern, if I may be so bold, I must deliver to you a message:
There is a political group that is facilitating the theft of the next generations to come by the Baby Boomers. They’re called “Republicans.”
Speaking of generation theft, if you wouldn’t mind, allow me, someone who is actually of the generation impacted by the deficit spending and the discussion of the role of government in our future, to speak for ourselves. I am well aware and very committed to the notion that America must keep paying society forward by continuing our tradition of educating and equipping the next generation as best as current technology and methods allow. And yet, I am also very convinced that we have to honor the promises we’ve made to the older generation, those that have put in their due; contributors to society. Lastly, as a product of the Information Age, I demand true and pure, sacred, equality.
That means equality of opportunity from the highest of the ivory towers to the lowest of the gutters in which a homeless veteran currently finds refuge. This means equality of love, that no matter which way your deity of choice oriented your sexuality, that does not and cannot mitigate one’s equality of love or quality of life. I demand equality of choice to choose whichever vice I desire without fear of criminal retribution, provided my vice is exercised responsibly and under consent of the standards of societal norms. I demand equality of pay no matter which genitalia your deity of choice put you into this world bearing.
It is because of these very intense, passionate core beliefs of mine that I feel I need to take you to task, not just in favor of Paul Krugman, who I feel you vastly disrespect and apparently underestimate. I do it in defense of my own generation, who I feel deserve their own voice, and while I would never deign to speak for all them, I will speak for those that feel like I do, and I would venture to guess the plurality — if not the majority — of us feel the same way.
Mr. Krugman’s points I feel are getting lost in your constant banging on about how much trouble we’ll be in if we don’t get our long-term spending under control. While I agree that it’s dangerous to let your government’s expenditures slip very far beyond the 22% of GDP range, what I feel you’re either intentionally or unintentionally ignoring is what Krugman’s entire point is: the most important crisis facing us is not our mid-term or long-term debt. It’s jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. As a Republican, I would expect you to understand this best, but perhaps not. Frankly, the behavior of your party in the last decade is indicative of a party — to which I used to belong, I might add — that has lost its way and no longer comes close to upholding the values they supposedly share.
Jobs, Mr. Scarborough, are what we need. And while there is zero historical evidence of trickle-down, top-down, supply side economics working to create anything other than the enormous income disparity we see in this country today, there is vast evidence that wise government spending coupled with an unwavering commitment to educate our youth, will create innovation which will lead to jobs. What no one seems willing to admit is that many of the manufacturing jobs that were lost during the Great Recession are never coming back, either because they are representative of industries that are no longer thriving, or because technology has gotten to the point that machinery has replaced human labor.
None of this is a new paradigm. The Industrial Revolution turned the world on its ear and revolutionized labor. When we as a country decided that putting six and seven year old kids into the work force was cruel and unnecessary, employers had to hire able-bodied adults instead. Times change, the wheels of progress keep moving us forward, but instead of embracing the Information Age, instead of embracing green energy as our global economic competitors have done, we’ve ignored them. We’ve ignored what made us great because around thirty to forty percent of the country still believes in the brand of fiscal mysticism that Ronald Reagan injected into our culture.
Empirically, when government spending is targeted in the right ways, jobs can be created. Does every dime we put into a Pell Grant get put back into the economy? Not if we’re still dealing with an economic situation we have today, where stagnation is the name of the game. We are the largest and the wealthiest nation on Earth. Our country’s debt is what drives the world’s economy. I agree with you that we’ve taken on too much debt. But I would argue that starting two wars on credit cards in the past fifteen years or so will make it hard to pay down debt, especially when it took over ten years to get a single tax increase to help pay for those wars.
So the point is, Mr. Scarborough that unless we get our nation’s industries up off the mat and back into the fight, it doesn’t matter how hard we work to cut the long term debt. We need jobs right now. We need jobs yesterday. Maybe “shovel ready” jobs was a stupid term to use; we can argue that at a later date. But the fact is that the United States got herself into this mess by eschewing what made her –us –so strong after World War II. Education brings innovation which brings industrialization, which brings economic prosperity.
You can’t fix the long-term problem effectively if the available jobs pool is shrinking more and more each year. We have to create jobs, and cutting taxes doesn’t do that. If it did, we should have never even run into the Great Recession, because taxes were at their lowest point ever for about ten years thanks to the Bush Tax Cuts. We have to put out the fire that’s burning in front of our noses first, and then we can drive up the road and put the other one out. If we don’t get to the point where we’re creating far more jobs every month than we are now, our debt will skyrocket because more and more people will fall into that social safety net, so won’t that just be some sweet irony, if austerity measures bring about more unemployment? Hold on, I’m getting a call from Ireland and Great Britain right now, they may have something to say about austerity and employment too.
My generation is smart, my generation grew up and came of age as the Internet was emerging. We have been warned and told about how Social Security and Medicare will have to change in our lifetimes for as long as I can remember. I think we’re all mostly okay with talking about some changes. But being that we’re smart and Internet savvy, it only takes a matter of moments to get our Google Machines to spit out all kinds of interesting facts. Things like the fact that we spend more than our next ten competitors combined on Defense. Or perhaps the fact that we spend twice as much on corporate welfare as we do on social welfare. The wool doesn’t sit over our eyes.
Sure, we don’t want to be sidled with paying your debts, but if we get too bogged down with trying to pay down debt while rates are still at historically-low rates and people are still knocking down our doors to lend money to us, you’re going to wind up choking out our ability to invest in our future. And then you wind up robbing not just me, but my two sons, of our future prosperity anyway. I implore you stop fear mongering over the long-term debt until we have our economy back on solid footing, growing at closer to three or four percent every month. We’re not that far away. If some in power would get out of the way, we might get there in the next four or five years, which you yourself have said will not be a time frame in which our long-term debt explodes on us.
Give us jobs, Mr. Scarborough. That’s the crisis of the day. Not our debt. Our debt is the next crisis. But just imagine how much easier tackling it will be if we’ve spent a couple of years pumping money back into the economy where it does the most good: the ground floor. Why don’t you let us worry about paying the debt, and right now you help us get our education and research engines humming? Give us a future worth saving, Mr. Scarborough, that’s what I’m asking for here.
I’ll leave you with the words of Stephen Colbert, who puts it quite simply and perfectly, if you ask me: