Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Friday, October 8, 2010

Full employment is the goal

Robert Borosage explains that the country is facing an unacceptably grim situation, with many millions out of work, and no jobs for them to find,

It is time to reassert that full employment is the primary measure of our economy: "Continuous and useful employment for those willing and seeking to work." Mass unemployment is an unacceptable failure. We will not learn to live with it. We will keep pushing until we eliminate it. Government will strive to create the conditions for the private market to create the jobs we need. But it will act as an employer of last resort for those unable to find work over a long period of time.

It is easy to scorn such admonitions. Congress excels at setting high sounding goals that it is certain to ignore. But we've got an economy where corporate profits are up, bank profits are up, inequality is rising -- and there are no jobs. This cannot become the new normal. However naïve it may sound, it would be good for the congress and the president to have the debate. Commit clearly that full employment is the measure by which their actions should be judged. Or alternatively, admit that full employment is no longer plausible, so we will build a strong social contract -- of training, guaranteed income, health care -- for those discarded from the workforce. Let's have the debate -- for the one choice that is socially ruinous is the one we seem to be drifting towards -- mass unemployment without a safety net.

The really important point Borosage makes is that long-term unemployed have little to support them once their benefits are exhausted. If those who have all the money cannot find a way to use their wealth to generate good jobs, then the jobless will need government help to survive. If such help isn't forthcoming, we will return to levels of misery not seen in this country since the Great Depression.

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