20 January 2009

Center for Community Change: "Stimulus for All?"

Last week, Sally Kohn of the Center for Community Change put it plainly: "The staggering gulf between the rich in America and everyone else is the root cause of our financial crisis. We can only stimulate the economy if we solve inequality." Yet, she continued, "Few have talked about the financial crisis in terms of rich and poor. Most of the focus is on the 'disappearing middle class.' But where do you think the middle class is disappearing to? They’re not sailing their yachts to Hawai’i. The middle class is rapidly joining the ranks of the poor, reeling from the inevitable, gravitational, polarizing pull of inequity."

So, how to halt this steep slide and ensure a democracy and an economy of equity and inclusion? First stop: make sure that the economic recovery package addresses structural inequities and meets the urgent needs of poor and low-income individuals and communities most affected by failed economic policies and economic insecurity, including women and people of color. The Ms. Foundation for Women and the Center for Community Change both call for significant investment in human and community infrastructure as a necessary prescription.

Kohn continued:
Barack Obama himself said that, in addition to providing “a jump-start to the economy” we should use the stimulus package to “put a down payment on some of the structural problems that we have in our economy.” What might that look like?

Well, while construction jobs are valuable and important, those jobs don’t usually go to those at the bottom of our economy. And communities like Detroit and Youngstown have infrastructure needs that go far beyond buildings alone. They need early childhood education programs and health clinics and better schools — which happen to be areas more likely to employ women and people of color and low-income communities. In addition to physical infrastructure, the stimulus package should invest in community and human infrastructure — and related jobs — as well.
Read Kohn's full commentary.

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