We are in the midst of history in the making. On a prorated basis, San Diego taxpayers will be contributing roughly $5-$6 billion of the $700 billion Department of Treasury will spend to rebuild Wall Street.

Think about what $5 billion would do to fix Main Street in San Diego. We could build almost 100 miles of freeway, or 50 miles of light rail, creating jobs and opportunities. We could provide health insurance to every one of our county’s uninsured persons, reinvigorating our healthcare industry. Or we could give people who are not self sufficient raises to make ends meet, recycling dollars back into the local economy.

We need to rebuild our local economy as though real people matter. The fundamental disconnect between bread-and-butter issues like having assets to balance risks, producing something to get something, and spending only what one can afford, have led us to this meltdown.

The crises faced every day by San Diego’s working families threaten the stability of our region and affect everyone who lives or works in our community. Some of the multiple crises that threaten our ability to rebuild the middle class are:

  • Crisis of housing affordability:
  • More than half our households live in housing that is unaffordable, i.e. they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent or mortgage.

  • Poverty:
  • There are more than 320,000 people in the San Diego County living below the federal poverty level. Almost half adults living below poverty are working.

  • Healthcare:
  • Almost one in seven county residents are uninsured. The health insurance crisis is increasing the cost of running a small business, and dumping more people into emergency rooms.

  • Infrastructure crisis:
  • The region suffers from severe firefighting deficiencies. The city alone has over a billion in backlog filling potholes and fixing roads.

  • Employment crisis:
  • With the retrenchment of the construction and financial sectors, the unemployment rate is at its highest in a decade. The only jobs being created are at hotels and restaurants, and pay relatively low wages.

— MURTAZA BAXAMUSA

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