Omar Bonilla" />
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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Digesting the economic incentives plan

For the guy on the street with little more economic savvy than balancing a checkbook, this whole business of a possible economic recession and the proposed presidential, now bipartisan, lifeline would be irrelevant if some of us weren’t already losing our jobs, having trouble finding one or just struggling to fill the tank.

The problem is that feeling the pain and knowing the cause don’t always go together.

In one way or another, we all feel the symptoms of the downgrading economy. A number are pretty obvious and affect us directly: tuition has increased, food is more costly, our bills pile up and we see more small cars during our less-frequent joy rides.

However (and perhaps more importantly), there are definitely some subtle indicators of recession that the common folk fail to see much of a direct connection to: red tags at the local supermarket, foreclosure signs in the neighborhood and heavy discounts and empty shelves at usually busy retail stores.

While those may seem like signs of the usual competitive capitalism, when combined with headlines of record losses and more layouts on major corporations, the picture becomes worrisome. For those who may be cheering at the sight of the big guys finally struggling and getting a glimpse of what we go through, let’s consider the implications for a moment.

As a natural instinct, in hard times we protect our turf. The rich may take a beating, but most certainly will not get into the poverty line ahead of those who are already barely escaping it.

If that supermarket does not remove its red tags and start making some real profit soon, its rich owners may decide to close it for good, leaving, besides a patch of land to be filled up with a dollar store that will drive the price of homes even lower, some jobless children and retirees in the neighborhood.

With other businesses in the same situation and thus new jobs not readily available, these children may end up joining a gang or the lines of government relief. Not a pretty picture for a first-class country, but definitely a reality that some of us try to escape by staying in the suburbs and keeping our eyes closed on the commute to work or school.

The news of the week is that the president and Congress, not a moment too soon and who knows (although we may guess) under what motivation, have decided to press for some economic measures aimed to jump-start the economy. Tax rebate checks are a little treat that nobody would say "no" to, but that does not lift the pressure for more permanent and sustainable solutions.

The discussion about what the approach should be is heated. Democrats and social groups support direct help to the poor, alleviating the burden of an economic dip for those already struggling. Republicans rally for helping businesses with the aim that they will in turn help the poor by creating jobs and paying taxes. Both arguments are valid, and it seems that the time has come for both parts to finally put aside their differences and start working on their agreements. We do not need to see another congressional fight and presidential veto in the game of "prove-me-wrong."

Poverty, crime and immigration need as much attention as investment, higher education and technology. A strong state needs a competitive edge on the international arena, an edge we have been losing to emerging states such as India and China. It also needs the foundation of a healthy society. We want to see our internal problems taken care of, and now we can see that local businesses are partners in this struggle. Helping the rich get richer while ensuring their success is the result of the success of the subordinate class. If my boss is making $1 million, and it means I will be making $100,000, I would take it, wouldn’t you?

The story goes that there was once a preacher who said that giving money to a poor man would feed him for one day, but getting him a job would feed and empower him for life.

Bonilla, a computer engineering technology senior, can be reached via [email protected].

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