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Local view: Income inequality?

Can someone point to one job created by the Republicans in Congress in the last 10 years? Three million jobs have been created under President Barack Obama in the last five years. The creation of these jobs and more are needed to deal with our income inequality. Moreover, our present inequality is exacerbated by inadequate taxes and social policies favoring the wealthy and large corporations.

It seems Republicans’ “job creators” (wealthy people) conservatively have been handling their money in ways that haven’t produced jobs. When working-class people have money in their pockets they spend it, invest it or put it into banks in the U.S., where it is put to work. With increasing costs and flat incomes over the past

30 years, many in the working classes have not been able to spend or invest at previous levels. And, of course, many have lost their jobs.

This lack of spending by the middle and lower classes creates a problem in our economy that is not easy to fix, explaining why it is taking so long to recover. Our economy is sustained by consumer spending. The spending by the middle and lower classes will take us out of the Bush Recession, not the “job creators.” Throw away “trickle down economic theory.” It

doesn’t work other than to maintain the financial status and power of the upper class.

In his last year of office, President George W. Bush sent $200 checks to adults and billions to banks to get money into circulation. Unfortunately, these endeavors were not sufficient because the economy was in a steep slide. When President Barack Obama took office, one of his first actions was to grant additional bailout money to kickstart the economy. Slowly this has worked.

If we decrease taxes on the wealthy and businesses and then make up the purposefully induced deficit on the backs of working-class taxpayers, a breaking point may be reached. We don’t have the social unrest that is being observed in other countries. Increasing income inequality may produce it.

Republicans fight against extending unemployment compensation, a reasonable minimum wage, food stamps (even though two-thirds of recipients are seniors and children) and cutting Social Security and Medicare for seniors, all counter to the wishes of many Americans.

To deal with income inequality, Obama is not suggesting the upper class be knocked down. Instead, he is suggesting we lift up the middle- and lower-income people. This can be done by such endeavors as raising the minimum wage, education and training for people to meet employers’ needs, jobs and poverty reduction. Creating a climate of stable certainty for the business community will help create more jobs. However, the endless “obstruct, delay and destroy,” or “ODD,” activities of Republicans in Congress create uncertainty rather than alleviating it.

Rather than mindless cuts, let’s move the economy forward by reordering our national priorities (such as staying out of wars) and through tax reform, infrastructure jobs, environmental protections, reduced costs to students, spending reductions, and a functional Congress. To support American workers, to prevent poverty and to ensure social justice, the U.S. needs a stronger social safety net, not its destruction, as seems to be envisioned by congressional Republicans.

Donald E. Maypole of Lake Nebagamon was the first director of the department of social work at the University of Minnesota Duluth and has taught and consulted extensively in Europe, in the Middle East and in China.