Sam Bush: Mr President (Have Pity on the Working Man)
First of all, you will notice that this post is not an album review. This week’s review is taking longer than I expected, so I’m doing the For a Song post now, and the review will appear later in the week.
I hate to bring anybody down, but here is a Labor Day that finds American workers in the worst shape they’ve seen in any Labor Day in my life time. I don’t think it’s coincidental that union membership stands at only 7%of American households. I am still proud of having voted for Barak Obama, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking of Mr President (Have Pity on the Working Man) on this, the holiday that traditionally honors American workers and the labor movement..
Mr President… is a song that originally dates from 1931, and was addressed to Herbert Hoover. The song became a rallying cry of the unemployed all during the Great Depression, and seems to make a comeback whenever times are hard for the working men and women of this country…
Of course, the last paragraph is not true. Randy Newman wrote Mr President in 1974, during the oil recession that affected so many. It is a measure of Newman’s brilliance as a songwriter that the song sounds like it could be from the Depression. I am presenting Sam Bush’s version, because it so beautifully brings out these aspects.
I offer the song now not only for Labor Day, but also because this country finds itself in such precarious position. The last of the stimulus bill is running out, and the country is still losing jobs. Congress is at war over two basic ideas of what to do. There are those who believe that tax and spending cuts are needed. They say that the economy is improving, and the tax cuts will create jobs. This assumes that companies and wealthy individuals create jobs because they have the money to do so. Why then are so many companies sitting on hordes of cash? It’s because the assumption is wrong. Companies do not create jobs because they have money; they do so because they believe they will sell more stuff. That means that job creation must focus on creating consumer demand, not corporate wealth. Consumer demand comes from targeting stimulus efforts at that segment of the population who have no choice but to spend whatever they receive. Once you see that, it is obvious that tax cuts, which do nothing until next spring when refunds go out, are not the way to go. Programs that quickly provide the legions of the unemployed with meaningful work are far more powerful. And every man or woman who returns to work spends more money, which creates even more jobs. Furthermore, all of these newly reemployed people pay income tax on their earnings. Those who try to scare us about budget deficits never seem to include this fact in their projections.
So I know that most of my readers come here for the music, and I apologize for the rant. But I’ve been needing to get this off my chest for a long time. Next time, it’s back to the music, I promise. Thank you all for hearing me out.