It's Friday - almost time to enter that fantasy land of the weekend, that time when we operate under the wonderful, temporary illusion that we control our own lives, and that we're free to do as we choose. Of course, we're not. We all need to work, and most off us work in jobs.
Those of us who are adults aren't always happy about our jobs, but we recognize that they're essential. We don't have parents who will take care of us, and as parents we have children who depend upon our work to take care of them. Jobs are at the heart of our security - and the idea that our jobs could be taken away from us is terrifying.
Politicians know how people feel about jobs, and they're willing to exploit those emotions for the sake of political gain. I realized this in watching an advertisement created by Republican Ray Meier in which he promises that, if he's elected to Congress, "jobs will always be job one".
This is something candidates for Congress love to talk about. They love to promise that, if they're sent to the House of Representatives, they will bring a flood of jobs pouring into the home district, whereas their opponent would be absolutely incapable of doing so. It's an easy promise to make, because it requires no proof.
As a genuine campaign issue, it's a crock. Of course members of the House of Representatives work to create pork barrel legislation to pour money into their home districts, and to create local projects that create jobs. The problem is that ALL members of Congress do this, in every district in the nation. Every politician elected to the House, whether Republican or Democrat, will push for bills that create local jobs. Michael Arcuri would do it, and Ray Meier would do it - without thought of the national interest, when it comes down to it. The nation doesn't elect House members, after all - local districts do.
In the end, this issue is not one that differentiates candidates from each other. We have absolutely no reason to believe that Arcuri or Meier would be better at bringing pork barrel to our district. In fact, we have every reason to believe that both of them would be fairly pathetic at it for quite some time. As new members of the House of Representatives, neither Arcuri nor Meier will have much power, and there's nothing to do about that except to wait for whomever wins this year to become a more senior member of Congress, as the years pass by and they get more grey hairs. That's not a rational jobs program, but it's really the best they can do.
Though people love to hear about how new members of Congress will create jobs, the reality is a little bit more sobering. New jobs are not going to come pouring into our area unless the basic economic conditions that enable job growth improve. That's really a national issue, not an issue of districts competing against each other for scraps of earmarked projects.
Whether you vote for Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri, don't choose a candidate on the basis of promises about bringing jobs to the area. Look to see which candidate has the greater capacity to promote wise, sustainable economic growth for all America.