Back to Full Employment (Boston Review Books)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Full employment used to be an explicit goal of economic policy in most of the industrialized world. Some countries even achieved it. In Back to Full Employment, economist Robert Pollin argues that the United States--today faced with its highest level of unemployment since the Great Depression--should put full employment back on the agenda.
There are good reasons to seek full employment, Pollin writes. Full employment will help individuals, families, and the economy as a whole, while promoting equality and social stability. Equally important, creating a full-employment economy can be joined effectively with two other fundamental policy aims: ending our dependence on fossil fuels and creating an economy powered by clean energy.
Explaining views on full employment in macroeconomic theory from Marx to Keynes to Friedman, Pollin argues that the policy was abandoned in the United States in the 1970s for the wrong reasons, and he shows how it can be achieved today despite the serious challenges of inflation and globalization.
Pollin believes the biggest obstacle to creating a full-employment economy is politics. Putting an end to the prevailing neoliberal opposition to full employment will require nothing less than an epoch-defining reallocation of political power away from the interests of big business and Wall Street and toward the middle class, working people, and the poor, while mounting a strong defense of the environment. In the end, achieving full employment will be a matter of political will: Can the United States make having a decent job a fundamental right?
and restricting the ability of big banks, such as Goldman Sachs, to trade on their own corporate accounts when they are supposed to be focused on their clients’ interests only, a practice known as “proprietary trading.” The prevailing view among progressive commentators is that Dodd-Frank was a major victory for Wall Street. There are valid reasons to reach that conclusion. The most important is, despite its length, DoddFrank mostly lays out a broad regulatory framework, allowing the various
differences do underscore the highly tentative nature of any such projections. The Medicare Trustee findings do also highlight another point—that transforming the U.S. health care system so that it comes more closely in line with the other advanced economies can, almost by itself, bring the federal government’s structural deficit close to its historical level of around 2 percent of GDP. However, let’s allow that because of the power of the private health insurance and drug companies, the idea of
$12.30 minimum wage under the actual employment levels of 2005–2007. They then examined how much the benefits to families would increase if all low-wage workers with part-time jobs were raised to full-time. They show that raising all low-wage workers to full-time, combined with the EITC expansion and minimum wage increase, raises nearly four times more families above a basic-budget income line than the expansion of the EITC and rise in minimum wage implemented with all part-time workers remaining
unemployment. Keynes also fully understood, along with Marx, that mass unemployment was a social scourge. But Keynes departed from Marx by reaching the conclusion that mass unemployment was not, in fact, necessary to the operations of capitalism. Indeed, Keynes to this day is the most widely cited economist on the planet (with the possible exception of Marx) precisely because of the policy measures he developed for preventing mass unemployment and advancing a full employment agenda within the
any core precepts in their thinking, the first has to be the law of supply and demand. This includes the idea that if the supply of something goes up while demand stays the same, prices will fall, and some of the excess supply will likely go unsold. If we are talking about immigrants increasing the overall supply of workers looking for jobs, their impact within this supply and demand logic should be to deliver lower wages (price of labor falling) and more unemployment (workers unable to sell