Op-Ed, 355 words

Get Jobless Americans Back to Work

Marc Morial

I’m not apt to make impossible New Year’s resolutions. Gumbo and red beans and rice will be safely on my plate for another year. But at the beginning of every New Year, I do like to pause to affirm my highest intentions.

The year just ended was one of the most difficult and divisive in American history. Thirteen million Americans remain out of work. Unemployment has ticked down to 8.5 percent overall, but it’s still disproportionately high in communities of color.

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As 2012 gets underway, the unemployment rate is 15.8 percent for African Americans and 11 percent for Latinos. Income inequality and poverty are growing. Confidence in government is at an all-time low. And the presidential race is shaping up as an epic battle between those who envision an America that works for the many and those who are content that it only works for the fortunate few.

Obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to do as a movement and as a nation. And so, with apologies to David Letterman and millions of other habitual list makers, here’s my top-10 wish list for this year:

10. Congress passes a full-year payroll tax cut and extends unemployment benefits without any 11th-hour brinksmanship.

9. Washington finally ends its partisan stalemate and enacts major legislation to create jobs, stop foreclosures, and support business development.

8. National leaders resolve to never again engage the United States in a needless war like the one that just officially ended in Iraq.

7. The Supreme Court upholds the Affordable Care Act.

6. The New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl.

5. Voter suppression efforts are stopped once and for all.

4. Crime in urban communities declines and the prevalence of fair and equal justice for every American increases.

3. African Americans and Latinos vote in record numbers in November.

2. In our schools, the resource gap, achievement gap, and graduation gap are all eliminated.

And my No. 1 wish for 2012 is for good health, greater prosperity, and personal fulfillment for my family and yours. And that the National Urban League continues to grow so we can have an even greater impact on the movement for equality, justice, and economic opportunity in America.

Happy New Year!

Marc Morial is the president and CEO of the National Urban League and the former mayor of New Orleans. www.nul.org
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