Article Comment 

William Hairston: Takes issue with congressman's remarks




After reading what Republican Congressman Alan Nunnelee said to the Columbus Rotary Club this week (11/22/2011), one wonders if these leaders of ours have ever read a book that wasn't required reading. The case in point here is Nunnelee's belief, and a standard Republican talking point, that "governments do not create jobs" (quoting the news article which presumably quoted him). 


From where Nunnelee stood as he spoke, he could almost spit into the Tenn-Tom Waterway. How many jobs for how many Mississippians did the Waterway's construction provide, Congressman, and whose billions of dollars paid for it? 


From where Nunnelee lives in Lee County he can almost see the Blue Springs Toyota Plant. How many jobs for how many Mississippians did the infrastructure construction needed to lure the plant to this location provide and whose millions of dollars paid for it? 


How much public money has gone into acquiring and developing the land for the Golden Triangle Industrial Park and how much public money will have to be shelled out to make up for the tax holidays given to the companies which locate there? 


How much public money was spent back in the 1930's building the Tennessee Valley Authority, and how many jobs did this public expenditure create? By the way, TVA is still federally owned and still creates jobs as well as providing electricity to our area, making it the only truly socialist enterprise in the United States. Where does the electricity come from that powers the Congressman's home and district offices? 


Recalling Nunnelee's claim cited above that "governments do not create jobs," he also gave high marks to Columbus Air Force Base, which employs nearly 3,000 people and is an economic driver for the region. "I don't know of anyone that creates more jobs than Columbus Air Force Base," he said. Columbus Air Force Base is government, Congressman, and you can't have it both ways. 


The fact is, Congressman, that economic growth throughout this country's history has been paid for out of the public treasury while simultaneously creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. A few examples are the Erie Canal, the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich, the transcontinental railroads, the interstate highway system, and of course Tenn-Tom. 


Once again, in this depression, it is time for government to spend public money, as it has so often in the past, to create jobs and stimulate growth. Rebuilding our decayed national infrastructure would be a good place to start. 


Would a book help? Start with Stuart Bruchey's The Roots of American Economic Growth, 1607-1861, Congressman Nunnelee. It is available to you across the street from your Washington office at the Library of Congress, one of our country's finest publicly funded, job-producing institutions. You may have heard of it. 




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Reader Comments

Article Comment mr. jordan commented at 11/25/2011 2:02:00 PM:

Right on the money, Mr. Hairston,

Nunnellee is following the Republican playbook of pushing the hot buttons of the ill-informed, self-centered and intellectually lazy GOP base. If he happens to hit contradictory hot buttons, as you cited, why worry? Those he has aimed his platitudes at will not notice and will say horray for each.

The list of GOP contradictions is long. After a decade of low taxes and lax regulation that helped put us in our current economic bind, what do they demand to solve the problem? Why, lower taxes and lax regulation. Again, they targeted audience will not notice the contradiction.

It takes real chutzpah to call for lax regulation after Wall Street scammed us into a near depression and BP almost wrecked the Gulf of Mexico, both do to lax regulation. Similarly, they call for lower taxes when taxes are the lowest they have been in 50 years. Yeah, that makes sense. If low taxes create jobs, where are they since we've had low taxes ten years?

They must think their constituents are just-off-the-turnip-truck rubes, and too often I fear they think correctly.


Article Comment zenreaper commented at 11/25/2011 3:01:00 PM:

Interesting theory. So, if there is a couple, and one of them EARNS the money for the house, and the other SPENDS the money for the house, when they get into a financial bind, you would blame the EARNING spouse for not EARNING enough, not the SPENDING spouse for SPENDING too much.

You bring up the Wall Street problem, which was at a MINIMUM, the fault of BOTH parties. You like to bring up the Bush years, but REMEMBER, the DEMOCRATS controlled Congress for the last two years of Bush, and for the last FOUR years. The BP thing had NOTHING to do with lax regulation. There are THOUSANDS of drilling rigs. They have been drilling for DECADES. There was ONE accident. It HAPPENS. And they MORE than paid for the clean up.

As for THIS line, "Similarly, they call for lower taxes when taxes are the lowest they have been in 50 years."

You DO realize that our CORPORATE tax is the second highest in the WORLD, right? Oh, and "taxes" are more than corporate and income taxes.


Article Comment kj commented at 11/25/2011 4:33:00 PM:

Household economics are not sufficient to model the economics of modern government.

The damage done under Bush was fait accompli by the time Democrats took control of congress. The Bush administration and a Republican congress that didn't give a damn about fiscal responsibility gave us an irresponsible tax cut, a huge entitlement benefit, two unfunded wars, and an assault on the constitution that we have yet to fix. Not to mention numerous war criminals with offices in the White House. The deficit spending since 2008, particularly the stimulus spending, is really the only defensible deficit spending. Despite largely lacking in direct returns, deficit spending during recessions serves to prevent or minimize economic damage, making recovery faster.

That there was only one offshore accident isn't responsive to the point of lax regulation. Based on the massive amount of money that's been spent by every offshore driller since the BP accident, it's clear that regulation was lax and that companies have been scrambling to bring their operations in line with regulatory guidelines. And no, BP has not "more" than paid for the clean-up. There is no undoing the damage they've caused. We will be discovering the magnitude of that damage, to the environment and to ourselves, over the course of decades.

The tax issue isn't even worth going over again. Anyone who doesn't understand that raising taxes is a necessary part of the fix going forward either knows it but can't admit it or is simply incapable of knowing it. Similarly the transparent willingness of the republican party to continue to trash our economy in order to win the next presidential election.


Article Comment mr. jordan commented at 11/25/2011 5:25:00 PM:


There are thousands of wells, but far fewer deep water wells that require special handling, as we discovered the hard way.

The Wall Street meltdown was specifically a regulation failure by the SEC and the bond rating agencies who were in bed with the hedge funds. These two entities should have stopped the madness but did not.

As for the rest, read and heed KJ who provides a nice summation of the problem.


Article Comment nativecolumbian commented at 11/25/2011 5:52:00 PM:

I'm a conservative; not a republican! Nunnelee is an idiot; as are most of the people WE elected to represent us.They have betrayed us to the point that I have little or no faith in any of them..
Lets not elect any incumbents..Had I performed, in my job, as they have; I would have been fired..
Kennedy and Johnson started the fall of AMERICA..Since then, we have been in a downward spiral and I don't see how we can pull out in time to survive... GOD BLESS AMERICA


Article Comment hope commented at 11/26/2011 3:16:00 PM:

@zenreaper;you do realize our corporate tax is the second highest in world. If you take away the loop holes, it may be. But if you don't here's the way it is.
280 of the biggest publicly traded American companies faced federal income tax bills equal to 18.5% of their profits during the last three years, little more than half of the official corporate rate of 35% and lower than their competitors in many industrialized countries.
A quarter of the 280 corporations owed less than 10% of profits in federal income taxes and 30 of the companies had no federal tax liability for the entire 3 year period. GE, which had $5.1 billion in American profits in 2010, had a income tax benefit of $3.1 billion. Wells Fargo Bank reported a total of $49 billion in profits in 2008 thru 2010. Not only did they not pay any income tax, but received a tax benefit of $651 million. American corporations are paying a smaller share of taxes than in previous decades, from 1.3% of GNP in 2010, down from about 6 percent in the '50's.
Two-thirds of the American companies with significant profits overseas actually paid more in taxes to foreign governments than they did in the United States. Rather than lowering the Corporate rate more, the federal government should end the subsidies and shelters that favor the companies who game the system. Closing the loopholes will have real benefits, including a fairer tax system, reduced federal budget deficits and more resources to improve our roads, bridges and schools, things that are really important for economic development here in the United States.
This shoots down the Republicans and FAUX theory that the Corporate tax needs to be lowered, and CNBC's theory also.
What say you?


Article Comment hope commented at 11/27/2011 2:02:00 PM:

@William Hairston:What a well written article that most Republicans will not like because it is the truth and shows the people that the Republican politicians are using our government for a scapegoat for political purposes only. Can anyone imagine the shape our country would be in if OUR government had not bailed out the banks and Wall Street in 2008?
A Republican who speaks a few words of realism or compassion will prove unacceptable to the base of that party. We're seeing that in the debates. They are the authors of dismal failure and national disgrace.


Article Comment walter commented at 11/27/2011 7:48:00 PM:

Do not forget the 100's of thousands of vendors and contractors' jobs that exist solely because of the federal government and taxpayers. I have often wondered what is the real demographic of the persons who receive money from the government as a result of being vendors or contractors: What percentage of the vendors are women? African Americans? Hispanics, etc? What percentage of the $$ spent by the government on contractors and vendors goes to thsoe segement of society? Is there anyone out there with statistical evidence to prove or disprove that a huge, HUGE percentage of the dollars spent by the government is going to white males? White males, who, ironically, are also Republicans...


Article Comment watcher commented at 11/28/2011 1:06:00 PM:

Mr. Hairston the comment about government not creating jobs that Nunnlee and other republicans are talking about is referring to private sector jobs. And he is right, the government does not create a single private sector job. Government jobs or government contractor jobs can't be equated to jobs produced because these types of jobs are solely dependent on sucking the tax payers dry to sustain. Lets just say for the sake of argument that every single private sector job disappeared (which Obama seems to be trying to make happen), and the only jobs left were government jobs or government jobs, how long do you think those jobs would last without tax dollars coming in?

Now to Walters comments why are all of the jobs supposed to go to minority owned or women owned business. Is this not discrimination. I truly do not comprehend liberals because they seem to live in a fantasy world. Liberals (Democrats) love forms of government and economies that are just not sustainable to make every one equal unless the equality you along with other liberals are referring to (dare I say it) is everyone being in poverty except of course the chosen ones in power.


Article Comment hope commented at 11/28/2011 2:40:00 PM:

@watcher:Say what?


Article Comment walter commented at 11/28/2011 5:49:00 PM:

Not ALL, watcher, but, a FAIR share should go to minority owned or women owned businesses, wouldn't you think? Especially in light of the complaint of so many that the government is spending too much. Remember Sen. Proxmire of Wisconsin? How many instances did he cite examples of the government spending $500 for toilet seats, hammers, etc? What do you suppose was the demographic of the vendors/contractors who supplied those items to the government? Today, at practically any government facility, I bet you can find billions of dollars of waste: money spent on items simply because the purchasing agents at those facilities had some kind of relationship with a vendor or contractor, or, someone the agents knew had relationships with the vendors or someone related to the vendors.

If you really want to curve government spending, crackdown on the unnecessary military spending. Pres. Ike warned that we should be leery of the military-industrial complex. We failed to heed his warning, didn't we?

What is really behind the unrelenting push by many on the right to privatize government? Why the great push to create uncontrollable middle-men(persons) to do what can be done directly by employees already on the government payroll? We don't need privatization; we need oversight to end the graft and kickbacks, which, in actuality, accounts for the unnecessary outflow of government dollars!


Article Comment watcher commented at 11/29/2011 12:22:00 PM:

First Walter I do want to say while you disagreed with my comments, I do appreciate that it seemed a very civil response. I will say that I agree with parts of your response. Next I will say that having myself worked for the government I can tell you emphatically that the government already has policies in place to pressure buying from minority and women owned businesses. The problem with this as I have seen first hand is the fact that actually we waste more money buying with that mandate because of the fact that these minority and women owned companies have consistently charged close to double what would have been paid if it was determined to go to the lowest bidder.

Second another major problem I have seen with government and contractors is the fact that most of the work force is unionized and they consistently screw the government over wage wise. As I have seen how labor unions do business it is any wonder any thing actually gets produced. When I think of unions I am reminded of a line from a movie called Sgt Bilko where Steve Martin tells his commanding officer that all he asks for is "an honest weeks pay for an honest days work." I do agree though that contracts do quite often or more often than not go to companies with some kind of ties to an elected official(both parties are guilty). But what you are suggesting is not to fix the problem but instead to keep the status quo to this corruption with the exception that minority and women owned business get a bigger cut of the corruption.

Secondly you mention along with most liberals the military as if this is the only problem with corruption but I would dare say that the whole of welfare is corrupt from top to bottom. Just one example is the lack of any accountability regarding the EBT card and its use. Did you know that up until this year there was nothing in place to prevent an EBT card use at strip clubs. There are people who have been offered that in exchange for cash they would pay for someone elses groceries. There is rampant corruption not only in this program but also in the medicaid and medicare program with no apparent oversight. It amazes me that liberals and most republicans only want oversight of private sector businesses. Look Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They are the picture of corruption but you see know one calling for their oversight or prosection for corruption.


Article Comment hope commented at 11/29/2011 4:07:00 PM:

@watcher:Republicans rarely pass up a chance to demonize organized labor. They prefer a low wage workforce unable to assert any rights.
China, please don't close your border to American corporations or these Unions will destroy us! We just love the COMMUNIST workers because we can exploit them.


Article Comment hope commented at 11/29/2011 4:35:00 PM:

@nativecolumbian:Kennedy and Johnson started the fall of America and we have been in a downward spiral!
PRESIDENT CLINTON:In 1999, the LARGEST budget surplus and DEBT pay down in history, the first time in U.S.history that we've experienced seven years in a row of fiscal improvement.


Article Comment hope commented at 11/29/2011 4:47:00 PM:

@nativecolumbian and watcher;President Clinton warned that proposals by Congressional Republicans for irresponsible tax cuts, spending the Social Security surplus, and across the board spending cuts would threaten our continued prosperity. The President urged Congress to keep America on this course of progress by passing his budget plan, which pays down the debt, protects Social Security, strenghtens and modernizes Medicare, invests in national priorities like education, health care, public safety, and the enviroment.


Article Comment walter commented at 11/29/2011 5:57:00 PM:

Corruption, up and down the line, in all areas and from all sources, is the problem, Watcher, I agree. And, you're right, I am suggesting that until we, the public can get a handle on it and end it, it would help alleviate some of the suffering of women, minorities and the disabled, if, we, like the principle bebefactors of the corruption now, were allowed to also partake in the feeding frenzy we see taking place at the public trough.

I don't agree that government mandated set-asides allow minorites to charge double the prices that white male vendors and contractors charge. That's a red heron and you know it...


Article Comment watcher commented at 11/30/2011 8:46:00 AM:

Walter have you ever worked in a government job or government contractor job? I have and I can tell you this that it happens all the time just when ordering office supplies. But also you are the one who is focused on making sure that only minorities and women make any money. Which from what I see is reverse racism. I did not say to white male(whom you seem to hate) vendors and contractors, I said to the lowest bidder (which you seemed to completely ignore).
Let me just be clear right now about something, you and every other liberal can make every white liberal like Birney Imes feel some sort of false guilt for something that happened way in the past, but you know I will not play that game because I did not do anything to feel guilty about so you and the liberals can take your while guilt scam somewhere else.
It kills me because liberals are always commenting about the supposed racism of groups like the Tea Party but you don't give a rats butt about the racism and hatred spewed everyday on the radio station WTWG. Everything I hear on that station is about how evil white males are and it completely makes me want to vomit because they in the same breath try to claim to be christians and how they preaching the word.


Article Comment walter commented at 11/30/2011 3:10:00 PM:

Not once did I say "...only minorities and women make money..." Open your eyes, Watcher, white males are already making money, TONS OF IT and you have been every since slaves were brought to America and Native Americans' lands were stolen. Your women usually get some, only after you're deceased!

If calling it like it is makes me a racist, then a racist, I am. Ideally, the bids hould go to the lowest bidders. But, even there, corruption and racism will raise their ugly heads: white males are the ones holding the positions to know and declare whose bidsare the lowest; they can also inform bidders how low to bid... Yes, I have worked for the government. And, I'm no novice in life. I have been here long enough to see and comprehend just how things REALLY work in the business, political and legal arenas...

You have a system in place in which what is preached and protrayed is not what is actually taking place. Many persons within our community know this.

And, leave Mr. Imes alone! Although he, like the rest of us, isn't perfect, he has always, to my knowledge, recognized the basic humanity of people of color and have treated us with the dignity and respect that we, and all other races of people, deserve.


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