Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An open letter to the President about the Economy

Dear Mr. President,
When you gave your state of the union address last month you talked about taking initiative in making executive orders to increase pay of Federal contractors and other actions to improve our economy. It's been two weeks now and I haven't seen that the orders have been passed. I want to tell you how your proposals effect me in two ways.

I am currently a Junior in college studying economics and political science and am fortunate that my family has been able to make sure I can go to school without going into serious debt, but many Americans are not so lucky. Other students' parents have been fired, and they don't have the access to scholarships, grants, and loans public or private to continue going to school. The total number of scholarships and grants available to students is never enough, and this means that people frequently have to postpone their education or don't go to school at all. When millions of Americans who are capable of getting a high-quality job paying $80,000 a year or more but instead work retail at $30,000 a year or less for a decade it makes a huge dent in their ability to save for retirement, shrinks our GDP, shrinks demand for goods and services, and makes it so America under performs year after year. This is unacceptable. More can and should be done to increase the skill of America's labor force by increasing access to college. If the government set aside only another $20 billion to give grants to students who are attending school full-time, which is not even 1% of the total Federal budget, it could help more than a million students get through college in four years and even go to college at all, and give economic benefits to the students and their surrounding communities and country for literally the rest of their lives. Paying for people to get the skills they need today to do high-quality work makes it so they can be financially independent and will never need to go to the government for assistance for food or housing, increasing GDP and decreasing government expenditures in the long-run as a percent of GDP because the private sector will grow.

I am not only a student but have a small private investigation agency, mostly on-line research. I have spent a lot on marketing on-line, and every few months someone will ask me to do a job. I tell them the price (which is of course market rate) and people will frequently not respond. I think a large part of this has to do with how prices over the past 30 years have risen, but wages have not, partly due to the large decline in union membership. While I do think that people who work hard should be paid justly we should also make certain that people who get work are working a job that pays them enough so they don't have to borrow for small things or be dependent on government aid such as food stamps when they work 40 hours a week. It is not just an economic crisis but also a moral crisis. How could anyone work for 2000 hours a year and not even be generating enough to afford food and housing? A big step towards increasing the circulation of money and helping small businesses find customers to increase opportunity will be to pursue economic policies that make it so people can be paid enough to live. For me personally, the American Dream is being able to be self-sufficient, to live in a country where with hard work and dedication anyone can be middle class and everyone can be the best they can be. In order for me to be able to do that with millions of other entrepreneurs we need to have our neighbors be paid enough so they can purchase our services and we can have strong local economies everywhere in this country. Paul Krugman estimates in his book End This Depression Now that full recovery for the recession will finish in around 2019 to 2021. Americans can't wait that long, and the decrease in incomes and investments will effect people for the rest of their lives. For young Americans like myself it is very scary that when I graduate from college with my Bachelor's next year or my Doctorate in 4 years we will probably still be in recession, all else being equal, when I see my friends who graduate with college degrees working in retail. Its a disgusting waste of skill and talent. I hope that you can pass the executive orders to increase federal compensation so that no one working for the federal government will need to be on food stamps, which will help our economy. We need you now Mr. President.

Please do the right thing and invest in America as much as you can today. Its not just an economic but also a moral issue. The Republicans don't have the votes to stop you from issuing the executive orders you can, and if you work really hard this year showing that you will fight for the American economy the American people will back you up on election day.


  1. You raise some excellent points. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone willing to work could find a job that pays a living wage?

    1. It would make an incredible improvement to our GDP which would be seen by everyone, furthering growth and ingenuity.