2012-07-13 / Columnists

The Progressive

Commentary By John Paul Culotta

In recent years, presidents, governors, and mayors have spoken of job growth and economic development. For decades, much of this discussion has been relegated to retail development, casinos, and often entertainment venues such as sports stadiums, amusement venues such as a family friendly Times Square and Luna Park in Coney Island. There is now a proposal for the world’s largest Ferris Wheel on Staten Island. This nation has concentrated on making our financial services industry the most important tool for job growth and development. In New York State, the reliance on the strength of the financial services industry has weakened our democratic processes. New Yorkers must bow to the desires of the leaders of this industry for tax privileges and a distorted income inequality that is probably the widest in human history.

Our nation needs a diverse economy that includes a stronger manufacturing component. Workers need a commitment from our elected politicians and leaders of industry of wages that will allow families to flourish in dignity. Campaigns to ensure living wages, in the formation and strengthening of labor organizations to allow worker participation in decisions made at the workplace, and reasonable regulation of the financial sector are paramount in securing economic growth and development.

Most of the economic development proposals of the past decades have concentrated on low wage development, no union participation, and economic inequality. It is now common knowledge that many executives of the financial industry earn exorbitant incomes that have little reality with results. Austerity that is limited to the poor and struggling middle class is also unacceptable. Sacrifices must be shared and we all must be responsible for making sure our essential services are solvent and secure. Too often, citizens are led to believe that the cause of their misery is their neighbor or the new arrival to our shores. In fact, the cause is the casino capitalism that rewards abuse of the least privileged of our society.

Since 2008, this nation has been faced with an anemic economic prognosis and a continuing decline that has led to a pessimism that is disturbing. Americans have generally been a society of optimism because of our spectacular economic history. In our past, economic inequality was the norm until during the Great Depression and after the Second World War, the nation made a commitment to include all in our economic and social progress. We instituted regulations that separated saving and investment financial industries, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, GI Bill Of Rights, encouraged union organizing, and there was a civil rights campaign that included the African American in our civic life. Republicans and Democrats may have differences but both parties supported these improvements. Both parties believed in progressive taxation policy. It would be appropriate in this election year that, between the Fourth of July and Labor Day, Americans commit to a development that includes all of us, to live in dignity with employment that ensures a civilized society.

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