September 23, 2014

The Need for Jobs

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

The American dream is the envy of the world. It is a promise that equality and social mobility is available to everyone, regardless of race, culture, or religion. Millions of people have moved to the United States in pursuit of this dream. They have left behind their friends, families, education, safety nets and more to come and live in this country to make the dream a reality. It is unfortunate, that the American dream is becoming more of a fantasy as those who are top earners she continued prosperity, while the middle class is stuck with stagnant wages and inflation.  No place is the struggle for the American dream more evident than in Milwaukee.  The middle class has suffered as once vital manufacturing plants packed up and moved outstate and overseas. This has left Milwaukee with one of the worst unemployment rates in the country at 6.7 percent. The African American community has been hit hardest; unemployment is as high as 56% for African American men in Milwaukee.

Unfortunately in the last three years the cards have been stacked against us. Our state’s Governor is focused more on Washington D.C then he is on Milwaukee. He works to appeal to voters in Texas, Louisiana, and Missouri rather than working in behalf of the citizens of Wisconsin. As a result, he has destroyed our states public employee organized labor force; rejected federal funds that were supposed to go to grow our states healthcare program; facilitated the highest incarceration rate in the country; created a budget deficit projected at 3 billion; and  the worst job creation numbers in the Mid-West.

This has also manifested itself in a number of problems that plague our city. In addition to the issues of unemployment and segregation I mentioned above, 85 percent of children cannot read at grade level, 20% percent of Milwaukeeans live in poverty, and hyper-incarceration of African American men.  It doesn’t have to be this way. Wisconsin is the birthplace of the American progressive movement, the home of one of the best university systems in the country, and home to cutting-edge freshwater industry. The key to getting Milwaukee back on track is through job creation. If people have jobs they can provide for their families and communities. They can open local businesses and invest in their school systems. They can elevate themselves above criminality and lawlessness. They can be agents for social change. They can live the American dream.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the necessity of homegrown industry in spurring our city’s economy. I announced five industries that my office and I are working to bring to Milwaukee in order to accomplish this economic growth. I believe that these industries; urban agriculture, urban forestry and water, and tourism represent the best route of action to creating the jobs. I believe that if we work together we can truly make these industries an invaluable stable of our city and collective identity.  All it takes is a little vision, hard-work, and a little determination and the most unattainable dreams are possible. I am reminded of the words of Gen. Colin Powell, the 65th Secretary of State, who said “a dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”