Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Black Men Should Praise Cory Booker’s Attempt To Guarantee Employment For All Americans.

April 26, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Money, News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( While studying Labor History at The Ohio State University, I learned a truism that sits at the intersection of labor, Race, and manhood. The referenced truism is a simple saying of “Without work, all is rotten.” There is possibly no more succinct explanation for the life paths of the men around me than this quip. Truly, nothing in my life has ever occurred to dissuade me from considering this truism the ‘Gospel’.

Most African-American men understand that work carries consequences that impact not only themselves but also those that rely on them for financial support. Ask any unemployed black man or woman attached to a man unable to secure a well-paying job and they will most certainly tell you in one way or another that “Without work, all is rotten.” In regards to black men, the absence of work ruins every aspect of their lives.

From the perspective of many disenchanted black women, a black male lacking the ability to provide is not even considered marriageable. Many of these women consider the ability to provide and protect to sit at the center of manhood; hence, those lacking those essential qualities have not earned the right to be called men. It is no stretch to assert that an unemployed black man is worthless to those around him.

My life travels have taught me that the absence of significant gainful employment also creates an unseen personal crisis for those afflicted by this situation. Put simply; a significant portion of the fallout from not having gainful employment is depression and feelings of inadequacy.

When one considers that for most working-class black men work has served as the anchor for their lives, it is surprising that so many have been able to languish without work. It is work that dictates when we rise in the morning, how we provide for our family, how our leisure time will be spent, when vacations will be taken, and the list goes on and on. In many ways, work is the foundation that working-class black men build upon.

This understanding of the centrality of work led me to intently study President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) articulation of an ‘Economic Bill of Rights’ while at The Ohio State University. FDR posited before Congress on January 11, 1944, that the foremost priority of the nation must be guaranteeing a decent standard of living for all who desired work. As a graduate student, I thought that Roosevelt’s ideals were the very key that would eradicate many of the problems afflicting so many of the men I knew. Hence, I am confident that you understand how pleased I was to learn of Cory Booker’s latest legislative endeavor, The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act, that attempts to follow the same spirit of FDR’s second ‘Bill of Rights.’

Booker is proposing a federal government plan that would bring guaranteed employment to 15 urban and rural districts over a three year period. The U.S. Senator from New Jersey hopes that this initiative will eventually be the rule of law throughout the entire nation.

Cory Booker’s proposal calls for any adult living in one of the 15 selected areas to receive guaranteed full-time employment that pays at least $15/hr (or the prevailing wage for the position — workers will receive the higher of these two figures) and full benefits.

Booker’s plan reminds one of LBJ’s ‘Great Society’ that attempted to eradicate drastic economic inequalities and racial injustice in the nation’s central cities. If successfully implemented in impoverished urban areas, this act will resemble a domestic ‘Marshall Plan’ offering much-needed financial assistance in the same way that America did after World War II for a war-torn Western Europe that received the equivalent of $110,000,000,000.00 ($110 Billion) in U.S. aid. There should be no doubt that such a significant infusion of funds is long overdue for an American populace saddled with low-wage paying jobs. Senator Booker believes that this initiative would reverse that unfortunate reality by

Creaing an employment guarantee (that) would give all Americans a shot at a day’s work and, by introducing competition into the labor market, raise wages and improve benefits for all workers.”

The alluded to economic move would address economic issues that have all but forced economically marginalized black men into varying levels of criminal existence. When one considers that the typical black male ‘criminal’ is known by their committing a non-violent property crime such as theft or drug dealing/possession aimed at securing life-sustaining monetary resources, the securing of good paying jobs would be a life-changing occurrence.

One can only imagine the transformative nature that gainful, full-time employment, paying a decent wage would have on black males and those they are responsible for. The securing of full-time employment carries with it the potential to address social ills such as extremely high divorce rates and the proliferation of single female-headed households within Black America. In many ways, the benefits that would flow from full-time employment are incalculable for a black populace that currently has only 58.4% of its members counted in the ranks of the employed.

The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act carries with it an ancillary benefit for blacks in general, and black males in particular, in that its call for guaranteed employment aborts the unfortunate American labor tradition of blacks being “the last hired and first fired”. Historically, blacks have been relegated to a bystander status of waiting until whites have had their employment needs satisfied before dangerous and low-paying sporadic employment was made available to them.

These developments beg the question of what should Black America do to bring this unprecedented opportunity to fruition? The answer to this piercing query is the same as it has always been, blacks need to engage the political arena with an uncommon relentless vigor that places their economic interests at the top of a crowded priority list. Failure to pro-actively agitate for Booker’s proposal should be considered treasonous. If nothing else, Black America’s failure to agitate for an “economic Bill of Rights” with every fiber of their political being will once again reiterate our collective lack of political awareness, maturity, and savvy. Such a display of ineptitude and nihilism in the face of opportunity is inexcusable.

Were I provided the opportunity, I would inform black men that this is the initiative that we have been waiting for and we must ‘Seize the Time’ and become politically engaged with an uncommon vigor that proves that we now understand that the savior we have been awaiting has always been staring back at us in every mirror that we have gazed into.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.

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