How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Economy needs to protect U.S. jobs to regain stable ground

The Trenton Times Newspaper, August 30,2011
By Martin Tuchman, CEO Tuchman Group and Vice Chairman, First Choice Bank

Although it was announced in September 2010 that the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, today, almost 10 million Americans are collecting unemployment insurance and more than 4 million people are on welfare. Some 44 million Americans -14 percent of the population - fell into official poverty in 2009, earning less than $21,954 per year for a family of four. We are facing a growth rate too low to generate a sufficient number of jobs to lower the rate of unemployment in the foreseeable future.

While the nation's unemployment rate is hovering around 9 percent, the combined unemployment and underemployment rate is running around 16 percent. This figure includes those who have given up looking for a job and those who have taken part-time jobs that pay significantly below their previous salary. A Pew Economic Policy Group study recently found that 23 percent of the unemployed had been jobless for a year or more -the highest rate since World War II.

The U.s. Department of Agriculture reports that the number of Americans living in households without consistent access to adequate food is at an all-time high. At the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), an increasing number of its patrons are individuals who are unemoloyed for the first time in their lives. And for the first time in TASK's history, the patron population includes individuals who had volunteered there when times were better.

Many aging baby boomers are unemployed because their jobs were shifted overseas; they have little chance of securing new employment that pays near their old salaries in the foreseeable future. Further, we are seeing evidence of European-style long-term unemployment among those between the ages of 35 and 44. Many in the middle class have seen their incomes fall precipitously because family members have lost their jobs or business, had their wages cut, have seen retirement savings evaporate or have become homeless due to foreclosure.

The situation is extremely bleak. Millions of people in our country are unable to provide for their own wellbeing or economic security. This is a national security issue.

Without jobs, the economy cannot grow. Without something to produce, there can be no jobs.

Many of the jobs we had in this country no longer exist, as they have been shipped overseas -ironically, our greatest export. The whole idea of globalization is a noble one, for it spreads the wealth and brings costs down to the level others are willing to accept as wages, allowing us to acquire more, since products cost us less.

But as in all things, change must be made smoothly, so that all systems can adapt to the new environment.

When there is no plan, and events are just left to develop on their own, chaos usually follows .

If we are serious about creating jobs for the production of goods in this country, we have to slow down the export of jobs overseas. There are many ways to accomplish this. One is punitive, such as taxing certain imports; another would create a reward mechanism, such as a tax credit.

A third way could entice capital to return to this country, through a very low tax -say, 5 percent, significantly lower than the usual corporate tax of 35 percent -and combine that with a stipulation that a list of products (predetermined) be manufactured in the U.S., with the proceeds from the repatriation reinvested in the business (not used for dividends or higher executive salaries). For example, we could target specific products currently manufactured in China but previously manufactured in the United States. The goal would be to once again manufacture these products here at a competitive price, facilitated by capital investment from the repatriated funds. An example would be the manufacture of refrigerated generators, which are used in this country as well as internationally. Until recently, it was a product
specifically built here.

Other products would be added. Once the master list is prepared, we can be productive once again, putting Americans to work and getting our economy on secure footing.

It is only after this is accomplished (and we will know when that happens by looking at our employment rate) that we can consider once again importing products made by others, assuming we target a 95 percent employment rate. There may be a few variations of the approach we take, but the overriding objective is to raise employment.

It's never too late to rebalance the economy. As late as the mid 1990s, after decades of deficits, we were able to turn around our finances and produce a surplus!

This approach to regain our employment footing will take a great deal of will. We must overcome the negativism associated with protecting our jobs. The term "protectionism" has been made to sound toxic. But I urge those who remain in doubt to think of this as a national security issue, as it will be impossible for us to continue to survive as a nation without the jobs that need to be created. And in order to create jobs, we need to create products.