Nothing is more important to our country than building an educated workforce. While we need to cut the budget, we must remember that only taxpayers pay taxes, and without people working and paying taxes, our country wont have any choice but to cut programs that actually benefit our citizens. No amount of cutting can make up for shrinking income.
Lost jobs mean lost taxes, but saying so doesnt reflect the entire picture. Many changes have influenced jobs in the U.S. The trend since the late 1970s has shown a marked increase of women in the labor force. Thus, while jobs increased in the 80s, numbers of workers did also. One would assume that with more moms working as well as dads, household incomes would have risen and indeed they have; however, stats show that while a dads income once could support a family of four, it now takes two parents working two jobs to raise a family.
Numerous studies have also shown that since the early 1980s, while U.S. job growth increased, the quality of those jobs (defined as wages and benefits) has decreased.
In 1969 over 28 percent of U.S. jobs were in the high-paying production sector. That percent shrank to 16.2 by 1989. At the same time, service jobs like flipping burgers at McDonalds increased to 27.4 percent.
Since the 80s, American businesses, in an effort to lower their costs, have trended towards hiring fewer full-time and more part-time, temporary, and contract workers who get paid lower wages and receive fewer benefits. Lower paying jobs mean fewer taxes collected.
Its also no secret that over the last three decades, American companies and corporations have deserted the U.S. in favor of cheaper overseas taxes and labor. A positive result of this practice is lower goods prices for U.S. consumers, but it also means fewer U.S. workers paying taxes into the system that should be serving them.
While its clear that we need more U.S. jobs, we dont need more service jobs. Lets face it, short order cooks and carpet cleaners cannot be expected to keep the U.S. budget in the black.
Nor do we need to balance the budget by denying funding to schools given the task of preparing young people to enter the workforce and pay taxes.
The U.S. needs to develop more industries and revive the slower ones. We need to produce something besides the next American Idol, and we need to do it fast.
President Obama has rightly pointed out that green technology can be the manufacturing base of our future, but since the election, Washington has behaved more like Don Quixote than Warren Buffett, and the Supreme Court its handed corporations the rights of citizens without any of the responsibilities.
Just where do American businesses stand on education? Oh, they have lots to say. They complain no applicants have the right education. They hold meetings. They ask for leadership. They wait for a national agenda. In short, they act much like Congress.
One wonders how these guys justify their humongous salaries when they cant even put together an outsourcing program for manufacturing-poor communities like Montezuma County.
It takes $33,000 a year to house a criminal and many thousands less to educate a child. An inmate does not generate one tax dollar. An educated worker can support a family, a community, a nation.
Lets stop selling cupcakes for school programs and start funding education like our futures depend on it. They do.
Janet Chanay is a retired educator.