We Can Build an Economy For All
July 31 2012
Earlier today, NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguia, participated in talks on economic prosperity, hosted by the Economic Policy Institute. The talk was held in conjunction with the release of a new report, "Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All." The report, co-authored by Yale Professor Jacob S. Hacker and Nate Lowenthall, provides a comprehensive blueprint to grow the nation's economy in a way that works for all Americans.
Murguia delivered the following remarks at today's event:
Thank you, Larry, for hosting this important discussion. Congratulations to Professor Hacker and to Nate at Yale for the publication of this visionary document. NCLR is proud to join the AFL-CIO, the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, and the Center for Community Change for this pivotal conversation about real policy solutions for workers, families, and our economy.
It is critical that Latinos are at the table when we are talking about big ideas for the future of our economy. Latinos have a proud place in the American story—yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The American economy simply won’t work without Latinos. Today there are 22 million Latinos in our labor force; by 2050, one in three American workers will be Latino.
Like all Americans, Latino voters today say that the economy and jobs is their top concern. And it’s no surprise. Latinos have been among the hardest-hit by unemployment and the housing market crash. And instead of a plan to fix the crisis, the message to struggling families is one of austerity. “Our country can’t afford the changes we need.
Parents with dreams for their children, and workers who want to contribute their time and talents should not have to wait for attention. A strong democracy—one pillar of this vision for shared prosperity—makes it possible for all Americans to effect the changes they want to see today.
But there are real threats to that democracy in our country today. An anti-Latino environment that has brought pain and suffering in our community. There are those who would want to make it more difficult for individuals to exercise the most basic way to participate in our democracy: voting.
We stand with our brothers and sisters in the African American community, to ensure everyone’s rights are respected, on the street and in the voting booth. Every politician must know that beating up on our communities has consequences. Working together we will ensure that the American Dream is alive for everyone and the voices that seek to divide our nation are finally put in check.
That is why our conversation today is so important—democracy is about moving forward together to ensure our contributions are not only stronger but respected. Our vote matters. But elections are a means to an end, not the end itself. We cannot wait for politicians to give us the respect we deserve. We have to command it.
We saw democracy in action just a few weeks ago when California governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill to put an end to the unfair ‘dual track’ process that traps homeowners while they are seeking a loan modification. This victory is proof of what can be achieved when leaders from local communities, the nonprofit sector, and the public sector, advocates, come together to work toward common-sense goals. When democracy works, solutions to our greatest challenges are possible to achieve.
NCLR looks forward to working with our partners here today and across the country to strengthen our democracy and to work toward shared prosperity.
Read the full report here.