Both Republican and Democratic candidates tell us that jobs and growth are a way to restore lustre to our American economy and each of our Presidential candidates has an infrastructure program to fit the politics of the moment.
Donald wants to build a wall that will be visible from outer-space, that project will certainly create a lot of jobs. Maybe we can also hire people to help build the tunnel under the wall once the wall has been finished?
Donald's idea for rounding up eleven million "illegal aliens" will require a lot of police and immigration officials and leave job openings at the very bottom of our economy, especially in American agriculture where hundreds of thousands of children continue to pick our fruits, vegetables and even tobacco for pennies on the pound.
There will also be substantial openings for teenage Eastern European models willing to live seven to a room in lower Manhattan while parading high- end fashions, made possible by the Trump organization's skirting our national visa requirements.
And then there's Hillary.
Hillary is running ads suggesting she'll rebuild America's infrastructure by closing tax loopholes for the rich, particularly Wall Street billionaires. Her idea of financing these projects expects more revenue from our under-taxed financial sector and is straight from The Berne's primary playbook , except now it has become apart of the Democratic platform she runs on. She wants to take their money and use it for job creation and to rebuild brick and mortar infrastructure, a good idea as far as it goes.
But both plans miss what should be our real focus, any infrastructure program that neglects the direct immediate needs of poor children, is a failed plan. We need an infrastructure deal that sees the young life of a child as irreplaceable and their needs as immediate. It's investments in human infrastructure and human potential we need now more than more roads for more cars.
With fifteen million children food insecure in this country, not knowing where their next meal is coming from and 2.5 million homeless, our emphasis should be on funding to meet their immediate needs; food and nutrition, health care, housing, access to medical care.
At the same time there are very real community needs that have been under-served for years that we must invest in as well, access to free, quality education, restoration of snap (food stamp) benefits eroded by Congress and states, expanded children's health insurance, nutritional support for pregnant women, job training for unemployed youth, vast improvements in juvenile detention, foster care systems, help for disabled children, mental health and addiction programs, housing vouchers for poor families and climate control mitigation to prevent the destructive repeat of Hurricane Sandy and the recent flooding in the Gulf.
A child enters this world blameless. You can't tell a hungry five year old to just get a job. Children live in communities. Usually, the poorest children can be found in those communities with the worst schools, poorest broadband, most polluted water and much of the industrial fall- out of our developed society; dumpsites, refineries, power plants and the rest. There's a reason the children of Flint had their water criminally poisoned by ineptitude and callous disregard. it's the same reason that a thousand people in Indiana have been living in a super-fund site. It's all pure math, it's all about the money.
There is a better option for helping ourselves and each other. A tiny tax on financial transactions, a fraction of a per cent, would yield hundreds of billions of dollars annually to address our infrastructure needs, create jobs and meet the pressing needs of young children and young adults.
This innovative approach to investing in communities would create more than enough funding to support and revitalize our state and local organizations who do the work, know the problems and lack only the financial support they need to do their jobs.
A bridge, a high speed rail system, more broadband, newer schools, better parks, a world-class highway system, cleaner water and air- these investments will indeed promote jobs and help communities where children live and we need them now. These projects should in fact be financed by tapping into the out-sized wealth of the 1% who control the nation's economy and own 80% of our wealth and there are bills before both houses of Congress proposing just that. (H.R.1579, S.1371)
But let's not forget that in the end, the real bridge to the 21st century is the child whose ideas, energies, hopes and dreams remain unrealized. No amount of concrete can be more important to our future than our own children who'll make it happen.
To learn more about the financial transaction tax see the new documentary, The Same Heart, in a city near you.