Full Employment as the New Progressive Paradigm

By Dan Kervick

Part Two of a four-part essay

In Part One of this essay, I evoked the dismal state of the progressive movement in the developed world, and proposed that as part of the effort to turn this situation around progressives should embrace the political ideal of a full employment economy, with an activist government permanently standing ready to provide a productive job for every person who is both willing and able to work, but who is unable to find work in the private sector.

I would hope people of every political stripe would see value in a full employment economy.  But my argument here is aimed at progressives specifically.  I want to explain why, given the kinds of defining values they have traditionally embraced – democracy, equality, solidarity and progress – progressives should be drawn to the full employment ideal.  I will first explain why, in my view, progressives should view the pursuit of a full employment economy as a political, economic and moral imperative, and embrace the full employment cause as a foundation for progressive political revival.  I will then set out a few basic proposals about how a full employment economy might be structured.

The division of my argument into political, economic and moral components is ultimately a bit artificial.  Economic values are realized within political systems, and political and economic values have moral sources.   And a political tactic is only justified to the extent that the tactic is part of a larger strategy aimed at achieving morally weighty goals.  But breaking the case for full employment down into three types of argument will be a convenient way of organizing our thinking.  In this part of the essay, I will discuss the political dimension of the case for the full employment economy.


1. The Political Arguments

For over four decades, progressives have seen a gradual unwinding of the old social and political framework that defined much of the New Deal coalition and helped define the postwar era.  An older ethos of team spirit, equality, government activism, sober regulation of the private sector and common advancement toward mutual economic goals has given way to trends in the direction of radical individualism, privatization, deregulation, and unchained avarice.  The newer approach has been characterized by an enthusiastic embrace of markets and a fierce opposition to any form of public direction of the country’s economic destiny through government.  The economic role of government is seen under this paradigm, at most, to consist in the provision of some occasional countercyclical stimulus and the maintenance of a so-called “safety net” for those who fail to thrive in the private sector.

The trend has been labeled “neoliberalism” due to its affinities with the generally laissez faire outlook of the classical liberalism of the 19th century.  Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are the two political patron saints of neoliberalism, but neoliberalism has been pursued since the late seventies under each administration and both major parties in the United States, and its general outlook and code of economic conduct continue to guide the current administration.   I said that neoliberalism accepts at most a role for government in the areas of safety nets and stimulus because even that limited role is accepted only by the center left version of neoliberalism.   A more doctrinaire and fundamentalist strain of neoliberalism on the right is tirelessly at work to advance the market creed yet further and eliminate any last vestige of an organized public role in our economic life beyond upholding the laws protecting private property.

Neoliberalism is a failure, although as is often the case the political elites who are stakeholders in the prevailing order, and who stand guard over it, will be the last to get the message.  Not every liberalizing economic reform should be decried, but the systemic failure of the overall approach should now be apparent to most of us.   Four decades of neoliberal transformation of the economy have delivered us into a society that is more insecure, unequal, brutal, uncivil and degrading.  That society is now mired in economic stagnation and paralyzed by systemic political failure.

The plutocrats who are the chief beneficiaries of the neoliberal revolution have successfully exploited divisions among ordinary Americas to pursue a divide and conquer strategy that routinely defuses threats to their power.  These divisions exist along many dimensions: cultural, ethnic, religious and class.  But among the most important of these divisions are the growing antagonisms between groups of people who are equally struggling, but who struggle in different ways and with different relationships to government.  Working people in the employed middle class and among the working poor are constantly pitted against people who are not working and who receive various forms of more extensive public assistance.  We saw the divisions between these two groups of Americans express themselves in unprecedentedly frank and increasingly ugly terms during the recent election.

People working longer hours under increasingly degrading and powerless conditions, and who are receiving shrinking pieces of the economic pie for their troubles, easily come to resent those who are seen as dependent on some form social assistance.  These resentments breed a toxic and disempowering political dynamic.  The serf who is doing backbreaking work for small wages to provide unparalleled prosperity to the lord who owns the fields grows bitter toward the serf in the next furrow whom he perceives to be doing less work.   As a consequence of that bitter resentment, he is unable to work with the other person on a common agenda of reducing the economic and political power of the lord, and achieving a more equal distribution of the output of the manor.  This, then, is the first political argument for a renewed progressive embrace of full employment.  Moving to a full employment society would help to restore social solidarity and a sense of common interest among poor, working class and other middle class Americans.  It would alleviate and ultimately erase many divisions between groups of people who desperately need to be working together to achieve a better life.

This line of thinking leads naturally into a second political argument for the full employment economy.  The contrary of a full employment economy is an economy in which people who are willing and able to work are denied the opportunity for meaningful employment.   Such people are not just unemployed – they are disemployed.   A society that practices a deliberate policy of failing to create sufficient work opportunities for all willing workers maintains a disempolyment economy.   In a disemployment economy the bargaining power of all workers is undermined, and the power of employers and owners is maximized.   Every employed person lives in fear that they can be cast into the abyss of joblessness and abject dependency whenever their employer decides to dispose of them.  Once there, and finding themselves competing with a large army of other disemployed workers for a very limited number of open positions, they may struggle to find a new job.  And as for those fortunate enough to have retained their jobs, unless they are one of the fortunate few who possess extraordinary talents, their ability to bargain for a greater share of their company’s revenue has been all but eliminated.   They have no bargaining power because they can always be easily replaced.

The disemployment system characterizing modern neoliberal economies is thus, unsurprisingly, the occasion of a growing income gap, as the fortunate few exploit the powerless of the many to drive ever larger percentages of the society’s output into the asset stores of the privileged.   It is no surprise, then, that the neoliberal politicians who are employed by the plutocracy are committed to the preservation of mass involuntary unemployment, whether in its harsher or softer “safety net” versions.  The plutocracy prefers to pay people a subsistence pittance not to work rather than empower them with work, solidarity and bargaining power, and so they support the continuation of a disempolyment society.  In a full employment society, on the other hand, the power of working people of all types will be greater.  Businesses will have to compete for scarce workers by paying them well.  The resources to do that while remaining profitable will have to come out of top executive salaries and owner profits.  So addressing inequality must begin by building up the social and economic power of those currently near the bottom ranks of society.   We can make progress in that work by eliminating the plutocratic tool of routine mass disemployment.

So a full employment economy is part of the path to greater economic equality.   And this leads us to an additional political argument for a progressive embrace of full employment, an argument that is grounded in the abiding progressive commitment to political democracy.   It must be recognized that a vibrant democracy cannot be sustained under conditions of gross and persisting inequality.  Differences in economic power always translate, under all systems and at all times, into differences in political power.   Ostensibly democratic institutions under persistent plutocratic domination degrade into a parody of genuine democracy, and offer little but a ruse to manage the mob through the entertainment values of media-hyped election campaigns with their illusion of genuine empowerment.  The elections under plutocracy offer only a choice among politicians who all work for that plutocracy, and who differ only in whether they adhere to the hard or soft version of plutocratic neoliberalism.   Breathing real vitality and political power back into democratic institutions requires a commitment to a more equal society, which in turn can be secured only by a commitment to full employment.

End of Part Two.    Part One is available here.

60 responses to “Full Employment as the New Progressive Paradigm

  1. I like the argument; but a few knits.

    First, I think any mention of “disemployment” should reference Hugh’s work at Correntewire. I think Hugh may deserve credit for originating the term. But, if not, he certainly merits the credit for spreading it around through his monthly analysis of BLS data measuring disemployment. Here’s Hugh’s report on November’s BLS report.

    Second, this:

    “Ostensibly democratic institutions under persistent plutocratic domination degrade into a parody of genuine democracy, and offer little but a ruse to manage the mob through the entertainment values of media-hyped election campaigns with their illusion of genuine empowerment.”

    is a bit incomplete. The plutocrats also use 1) entertainment much more broadly, 2) voter suppression; and increasingly 3) suppression of the rights of free speech, press, and assembly through police riots in response to expression of those rights. We’ve seen that in many cities around the country including New York and Oakland and may other places, and also at Universities, as our “free democratic” society gradually devolves to one in which there are only the forms of freedom and democracy without its substance.

    • Thanks Joe. I knew I had heard the term “disemployment” somewhere. But I did some googling and couldn’t locate some main specific recent source. I saw that the term appears in various online dictionaries, so assumed it was an established word. I’ll check out Hugh’s article.

      I agree that there are all sorts of things that undermine and threaten democracy. But here I just wanted to focus on the plutocratic threat that can be challenged via a full employment system.

      • Again, Hugh provides a monthly analysis of the BLS report. the series began on October 8, 2010 here: http://www.correntewire.com/bls_jobs_report_september_2010 Re-reading that first post, I see that the word “disemployment” had already been used by Corrente’s Lambert Strether, the owner and web master of the Correntewire blog, and, more recently an Administrator at Naked Capitalism helping out Yves Smith. Lambert used the word in connection with the U-6 unemployment number; but in this report Hugh defines it differently, and, I think, in a more theoretically satisfying way. When I talk about the total number of people who could theoretically be impacted by a job guarantee program I always use Hugh’s disemployment figure to refer to the number of people who want full-time work, at a living wage, but can’t get it.

  2. Looking forward to parts three and four.

    Making sure that everyone has a job seems noble, and you’ve well described the salubrious impacts that it might well have. But in order for this to have a chance of success in an increasingly automated society, we’re going to have to open our minds to what “work” might mean. Individuals need to be empowered to make their own choices as to what constitutes “work.” Most people are industrious if given the opportunity. Allowing them to decide how they are most productive, rather than forcing them into some undesirable or tedious job, also stands to foster the most creativity for the good of our collective future.

  3. with an activist government permanently standing ready to provide a productive job … Dan Kervick [emphaisis added]

    “Productive” by who’s definition? Look at the afluent retired. Do they idle their life away (not that it is any of our business) or do they work on their yards, gardens, hobbies, volunteer work, help out their children with babysitting and otherwise stay productivily busy? What if they had still had to work? Would that not mean less time and energy for them to spend on activities that they thought were “productive”?

    What is needed is economic justice, not a Jobs Gaurantee. That means as a minimum that the money system be reformed and that the entire population receive restitution with new fiat (Greenbacks) until all private debt is paid off or at least until all deposits are 100% backed by reserves. Land reform is called for too to restore the family farms the banks have stolen and to give the landless a place of their own to work on.

    for every person who is both willing and able to work, but who is unable to find work in the private sector. Dan Kervick [emphaisis added]

    The “private” sector cannot provide enough jobs because it has been busy for centuries (with the help of the so-called “private” banks) automating the workers’ jobs away with the workers’ own stolen purchasing power.

    • The point is to provide a paying job for the unemployed that want to work, no one is talking about forcing retirees back into the work-force. Working on the garden is fine, so is passing out on the couch with doritos on your lap, but does it provide any useful function for the rest of the country? You could certainly create various JG programs like babysitting, community work, or infrastructure development.. in a word – productive.

      Dig the second paragraph.

    • F. Beard, you are such a party pooper. You seem to have read a different article than I did.

      • In the Bible, I see no work requirement for the victims of theft in order to obtain restitution. But ole Dan does not even recognize that the banks are thieves, much less that the entire population (sans the uber-rich) deserve restitution.

        • Whether banks are engaged in something morally equivalent to stealing really depends on how the banking system is structured and regulated, and with what mix of private and public elements.

          • really depends on how the banking system is structured and regulated, and with what mix of private and public elements. Dan K

            Since credit creation dilutes the purchasing power of everyone then unless everyone, regardless of “creditworthiness”, is entitled to the exact same amount of credit at the exact same interest rate then the credit system is imoral UNLESS it is entirely private.

            Why do you insist on a government-backed credit system anyway? Common stock as a private money form allows the necessary consolidation of real capital for economies of scale without cheating anyone, without usury, without the need for government deposit insurance and without the need for reserves and a central bank. And if credit is a proper component of the private sector then surely well capitalized, purely private banks should be able to satisfy the need for it.

            • Since credit creation dilutes the purchasing power of everyone.

              You have said this a thousand times. But I don’t think you have ever given a compelling argument for thinking it is true. I tried to give a counterargument recently with my example of the pizza shop, and as far as I can recall, you never responded to it adequately.

              Nor can I understand why you are so opposed to the government role in the monetary system. In fact, I can never understand the point or motivation of any of your proposals. They just seem to be disconnected and economically unmotivated dogmas that you robotically repeat.

              I find it rather pointless to continue to argue with you about it, because your position basically is that God outlawed credit in the bible, and therefore nothing any mere mortal can do to influence your thinking.

              • I tried to give a counterargument recently with my example of the pizza shop, and as far as I can recall, you never responded to it adequately. Dan K

                Let me help. Suppose for some reason (which until recently included being black) you are not considered “creditworthy.” Yet you are a hard working, thrifty saver. After years of saving, you attempt to buy a house with those savings. Oops! You can’t because you have been priced out of the market by those who are considered “creditworthy.”

                Nor can I understand why you are so opposed to the government role in the monetary system. Dan K

                Which money system? For the payment of government debts or for the payment of private debts? Government should have exclusive control of the government money system. But as for the private money system why should government prop up an inherently unstable, discriminatory form of money creation -“credit” – for the benefit of the rich and other so-called “creditworthies”?

                because your position basically is that God outlawed credit in the bible, Dan K

                God does forbid theft and oppression of the poor.

                But why are YOU so dedicated to a money system based on usury and theft of purchasing power, especially from the poor? Common stock as a private money form allows real capital to be consolidated for economies of scale without theft and without usury. What’s the matter with a money form that “shares” wealth and power rather than steals and concentrates them?

            • That cheaper/better consumer goods such as pizza can be produced using an immoral/unstable finance system such as the government backed/enforced credit cartel is irrelevant since those goods could have been ethically financed. Or does progress require oppressing the poor in your opinion?

    • I’m not talking about getting rid of socialized retirement systems. In every society, retired elders must be supported by those who are working. I’ll address more of the details in the future parts of the essay.

      I agree that the private sector will not ever be able to provide sufficient work. But I don’t think that has anything particularly to do with the currency system or stolen purchasing power, or even with whether banks are private or public.

      Can’t say I’m a big fan of either 100% reserve banking or a return to mass subsistence farming.

      • Can’t say I’m a big fan of either 100% reserve banking Dan K.

        100% reserves (for new loans) would only be enforced during the universal bailout period in order to maximize the amount of new fiat that could be distributed to the population without causing price inflation. After the bailout period, then purely pivate (no government deposit insurance, no legal tender lender of last resort, the monetary sovereign itself providing a risk-free storage and transaction service for its fiat) banks would be free to create as much credit as they dared (which would not be very little, I’d bet).

        or a return to mass subsistence farming. Dan K

        With modern farm machinery that would not be the case. The economies of scale a very large coporate farm allow could be largely duplicated with farmer co-opts for smaller farms.

        • correction: banks would be free to create as much credit as they dared (which would not be very much, I’d bet).

      • “Can’t say I’m a big fan of either 100% reserve banking….”
        Sorry to say this but the only MMT supporter I have seen who ‘comprehends’ Fisher’s 100 Percent Money – a.k.a. full-reserve banking – proposal is Ralph M..
        I have said that one weakness of MMT is its MIS-understanding of the need for any role of reserves in a truly modern monetary economy.
        One reason Fisher titles his book and especially his 1935 publication as “100 Percent Money” is because he came to realize that in eliminating fractional-reserve banking, what you are really doing is eliminating the ‘reserve’ function of the federal ‘reserve’ system.
        Fisher proposed ‘monetization’ of all non-reserved bank-credit into a money-backing. Once you’ve done that and have money-creation tied to economic growth, you have the money needed to save and invest so that , by historic definition, all loans are 100 percent reserved.
        It’s extremely difficult to change to a non-reserved banking/credit system after a hundred years of declining levels of fractional-reserves.
        I’ll say once more that MMTers remain loyal to fractional-reserve banking because it represents their endogenous money paradigm.
        Whether and why it would remain necessary after reform to the money system is part of the money tutorial that is lacking in the MMT dialogue.
        You cannot comprehend the full (or non-) reserve system concept without its essential counterpart, public money creation. You end our endogenous money past. You begin our exogenous money future.
        It’s a dialogue that will precede real progress on the full employment front.

        Speaking of which, the National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act will remain alive as a Bill before the Congress Assembled only for the hours or days remaining.
        It not only marries full employment to managing the monetary system – exactly, OSTENSIBLY what MMT claims as its aspirations, but it lays out the most progressive political-economic reforms since the days of Greenback-Progressive-Populist-DFL-Labor activism before the FR Act became the modus-operandi for wealth accumulation and income stratification in America.

        Wanting full-employment and economic democracy (wealth and income normalization) is only available when we the people have the tiller that directs the national economy, and that tiller is opertive of the national monetary system.
        Thanks for all of this. As usual.

  4. Great work Dan! I found a typo?: “unless they are one of the unfortunate few who possess extraordinary talents… ” I think you mean “fortunate”?

  5. One other area in which neo-liberals do see a role for government is in the military industrial “defense” industry. There, no amount of intervention is too great, especially if it provides “good paying jobs” in a politicians district or state. This is a huge driver of budget deficits (as the budget is currently configured) and helps to consolidate the plutocratic control of the economy as well as ensuring a trained force to suppress any hint of rebellion.

  6. Why not just expand unemployment insurance to a humane level?

    Unemployment insurance should be $30k a year. It would force employers to pay a living wage.

    • Great idea! And it does not require an increase in the size or scope of government which is sure to draw fire from conservatives and libertarians.

    • You would have to address Dan’s argument that any kind of payment to the involuntarily unemployed can be used in a divide-and-conquer move where the people in power convince those who are working under bad conditions and with little pay that the unemployed are their enemy, because the unemployed get something for nothing. Hence those two groups are prevented from uniting against their common enemy, the extremely powerful and wealthy elite.

      It sucks that this is possible, but such is human psychology, unfortunately.

      • Thanks, F. Beard!

        Nicolai, expanding unemployment insurance to a living wage would ensure that the employed have a higher income than the unemployed. Thus, the employed would not be mad about unemployment insurance merely keeping people out of poverty and nothing more.

  7. An option for lifetime National Public Service, is certainly possible. In order to be both visionary and realistic as to what effect this would have on the private economy an attempt to conceive a reform of the entire Defense Dept. and the way it does business might be informative. One useful aspect of this would be to identify a basic minimum structure and the ways it could be made immediately functional to respond to changing affairs and national purpose. Another relevant characteristic in this comparison would be revenue sources and constraints. I’d like to believe “Peace is our Business” but at what cost. This sector of our government while considered essential and a key cornerstone of our economy is implicated as the most destructive and least productive use of resources. In that regard it should be the most revenue constrained of any governmental purpose. It may be the single remaining unit of government that by law is required to be fully supported by tax dollars and debt. In any event it should be considered tangentially related to all other forms of NPS and perhaps have an intermediary body that allow public purpose to overlap as the private economy cycles through its machinations and begins to recognize the new environment and directs it’s growth to meet the challenge of being a radically new type of stake holder.

  8. A NPS could be democratized far above and beyond it’s military counter-part. It could be empowered by law to have standards which gave it some latitude of unionizing force as it expanded into contracting with the private economy. It could be granted resources to develop it’s own collective structures of production and service that could evolve into worker owned syndicates either marginally overseen and regulated by NPS rules and guidelines or fully independent players in the new environment.

  9. The right to decently remunerated work is declared in Article 23 of UN Human Rights Declaration.

    For any endorsing the declaration, a full employment, full occupation, full remunerated work must be a political priority.

    It happily happens that satisfying the right to remunerated work and developing the monetized economy can be simultaneously attained if governments offer a public universal occupation program with standard benefits. A public universal occupation program will be probably easier to implement than a full employment only program.

    The full employment program puts the burden of generation of job tasks on people in the public sector. Jobs in public agencies can be open to any depth of necessity, if one does not care much for immediate productivity, through enlarging existing programs or launching projected ones. When the overall economy improves, these jobs can be shut down as people pass to the private sector.

    A problem with this approach is what people are going to do is defined without knowing what people is capable to do. Matching of required competencies will happen as well as mismatch. In case of mismatch a public occupation program has the added flexibility of asking people what they want to do useful for society in a verifiable way, taking in account unmet needs or desires. The best allocator of a person’s competencies is the proper person. Then pay the people for doing the contracted service in partnerships including 1-partnerships or individuals. The whole system should be kept completely open to public scrutiny both in payments and outcomes – as all the public sector should be.

    The program should be be considered successful if it manages to change despaired and confused unemployed into pro-social, self-learning, citizens. Any effective production above this base line of success should be accounted as increased gains.

    In this, a human right is satisfied and a steady flow of sales is guaranteed to private businesses, creating a floor for incomes.

    Even if one is not concerned with human rights but one is concerned with the health of capitalism in face of increasing automation one should come to understand that universal occupation programs are needed to keep market economies functioning and offering growth opportunities for entrepreneurs.

  10. Dan you’re preaching to the choir and some Trolls but as far as I can tell there isn’t any movement to operationalize your intellectual contributions and get them into the mainstream debate. Maybe in time there will be a sea change unfortunately a lot of suffering will occur first.

    • Well, I went on a radio show last week to discuss my views. Don’t know what else one can do but keep writing and talking, looking for allies, spreading the word.

      • Not necessarily talking about you it’s just that MMT needs some troops and leadership on the ground. Managers like sergeants in the military who get the work done. Somebody or some way to let the unemployed, homeless and dispossessed from their homes know that there is an alternative. Someone to carry your message into the streets and homeless shelters. OWS may end up doing it but they aren’t focused enough.

        • I think you are looking in the wrong direction. MMT is a body of economic thought. It provides a away of looking at the economy, and especially the contemporary monetary system. Once someone understands what it has to teach, certain obvious changes in the way we run things suggest themselves, and most of the economists who have developed MMT have defended these changes. But MMT is not a comprehensive program for social change. People can develop such programs that use MMT as part of the motivating background, but the programs they develop will vary depending on which other values are most important to them. If people are interested in creating these programs for change, they need to get out there and organize. There is no MMT “general” who is going to issue marching orders. People like Bill Mitchell pour their hearts and brains out every day in their thinking and writing to try to analyze our economic system. It’s up to all the rest of us to turn what we’ve learned into action.

          • My Bad. Please excuse my frustration over a non existent left and a general failure to combat the effects of the Lewis Powell memo. I guess I need to look elsewhere.

            • Those are good goals. My essay starts off talking about the lousy state of the progressive movement and offers a constructive suggestion: that progressives should embrace the ideal a full employment society and organize around that theme. I am promoting this idea in public in other places as well. What are the other things you think I could do? Make some suggestions.

              Stephanie Kelton has also been very active lately, appearing on numerous broadcasts.

              And if you want to be one of the troops on the ground, go forth and fight. Nobody is stopping you.

              I’m just saying that it is a mistake to view MMT as itself some kind of social movement. MMT can help to provide the intellectual foundation for certain aspects of new progressive politics, but building a progressive movement that includes it will require the energies and talents of millions of other people, and will require the incorporation of many ideas that go beyond MMT. MMT is not a comprehensive solution to to all of the challenges of society.

              • Dan at this point I am thinking of ordering copies of Warren Mosler’s book about the “Seven Myths..” and sending them to Jill Stein and Sherry Honkala. If anybody here has an inside track to them it may be of value to try and educate these leaders of the Green Party. I am also in favor of doing something with Billboards as an end around the corporate media but for a variety of personal reasons I have not persued that as vigorously as I would like. On the other hand I havn’t given up the idea either.

              • Don Wellington

                May be I can contribute a little hope for Charles. After finding my way to Naked Capitalism a while back and getting hints of MMT from there, Stephanie Kelton’s (Prof. Kelton?) interview on RT News got me over here. I read through the Primer over the last couple weeks. And, frankly got pissed off at the political class for debating the debt, deficit, and austerity instead of jobs, jobs, and jobs. Because the former debate is about stuff that doesn’t matter or is cruel to the populace, and the latter is what we actually need.

                Now I am a smart guy, but the Macro Economics I was taught back in college in the 90s was conventional economics about money multipliers and deficits causing inflation etc… So, truthfully I thought the debt should be a concern, just not now. But, I am mathematically inclined and the sector balances identity made perfect sense, and combined with the implications of non-convertible currency, that eliminated any belief that under current circumstances the deficit is a concern or will be a concern anytime in the near future. Which then pissed me off as described above because I have a real problem with suffering. Especially, inflicted by those who are supposed to represent me. I probably shouldn’t take it personally, but I do.

                So, I am attempting to do something, it might be futile, but maybe I can be a little less pissed off. I am writing my Democratic Senators in the hopes that maybe I will put a bug in a staffer ear. Maybe they will look into this MMT thing, maybe they will mention it over lunch with another staffer, maybe contact a Professor at UKMC to explain it, maybe it makes it to the Senator. I know it is improbable, but without trying, it is impossible. If nothing else, I have registered with some staffer how little one of the Senator’s constituents cares about the deficit, how much I care about jobs, and how abhorrent I find the debate between austerity and more austerity.

                So, chalk one up to NEP. I am hooked and at least trying to bring my social circle around to at least the first step of stop worrying about the federal deficit and start worrying about jobs.

                • Don

                  If you read Warren Mosler’s book http://moslereconomics.com/2009/12/10/7-deadly-innocent-frauds/

                  You will read that he had a conversation with Gore back in the day and Gore got it but said he couldn’t go there. In addition somebody on one of these sites said that Biden gets it as well. Unfortunately it’s all about politics and ego. I once sent Mosler’s book to Coronel West thinking a “Leftie” would be intrested I got back a comment “good book” and that was the end of it. Looks lie we have to wait for a new generation or another country to lead the way. I also sent books to several union leaders again without results. Somebody here said the Green Party has an economic position and it’s not MMT. So that leaves me with Billboards for which I will patiently wait for the opportunity to implement unless somebody else Grocks the idea

            • Below you opined re the Green Party positions on jobs and money.
              Here is a link to their platform.

              They have a three-part Monetary Reform Plank in there that pretty much mimics the Kucinich Bill:
              Incorporates a nationalized Fed into Treasury, monetizes bank-credit money, putting the bankers back to banking, and creates an issuing public monetary authority that ends the need for government debt.
              Some MMT proponents support the first change, but that’s about it.

              • Thanks for the link but if they have their Economists creating positions they are not going to read Mosler’s book or change direction. Been there done that and it’s a non starter. Too many people especially “professionals ” have their ideas molded in concrete.

                • That was the platform they adopted for the last election before the candidates were chosen.
                  I doubt they had many professional economists in on pursuing such a position. In fact, I can hardly think of an economist who supports such a position.
                  Maybe that’s what makes it seem pretty reasonable, and why I voted for them.

  11. Neoliberal globalization, free-trade actual casino style speculative economy sending employment abroad at near slavery wages killed local jobs and workers unions.___ Large profit only corporations not regulated by real democratic governments do what they want, transfering their profits to fiscal heavens. ___ Keynesian economy worked for 30 years, the system in this era being basically honest (consumption vs production). ___Actual fully corrupt casino style speculative system (shares on wall street speculation)___Solutions, The Tobin tax on all market transactions on wall street and the application of the social credit system of economist CliffordHughDouglas with a public central bank not like the privatized Fed ___The communist USSR system did not even know the word unemployed, everybody working for cooperatives government regulated, communism had to be modernized and democratized, certainly not destroyed, there can be no communism without totalitarism or socialism without solidarity.____Read more at – canobs.livejournal.com -and- webofdebt.com/articles

  12. The National Jobs For All Coalition (njfac.org), a collection of academics, labor leaders, and others, has been working on an actual full employment economy for some time. At present we are advocating everyone get behind the 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act (HR4277) proposed by Rep. John Conyers. Join in!

  13. When you Progressives of the Left have an actual example of a working managed economy, then rational people will pay attention.

    That can never happen, because economies are not mechanisms. Human physiologies are equivalently-complex systems, and we only have reasonable medicine because there are 7B copies of that system and animal models that make cause-and-effect analysis possible, although still very difficult.

    There is no cause-and-effect economic data, it is all correlational data, just like the rest of history. We don’t expect historians to produce a full-employment world, and we certainly should not expect economists, Progressive or not, to do so either.

    You guys are True Believers living in a fantasy world.

    • One doesn’t have to make an entirely new system. I don’t think this is being suggested, really. But in order to see if something works, you have to give it a try, otherwise, it’s all just talk. From a theoretical standpoint, I’m not sold on the total job guarantee program. But it would be easy to try on a limited basis and make sure the world doesn’t self-destruct. One could implement the guarantee program to those, say, who become unemployed and would otherwise claim unemployment insurance. Results could then be evaluated and the program expanded if successful. Of course, this depends on a sane and effective Congress.

  14. homeless people don’t always want the responsibility of a home. Unemployed people don’t always want to work but welcome ez money. How much do you have to spend and where are you going to get it? You sound like some high school idealists with no grip on reality. One day some little kid will see the truth and proclaim ” It’s all just paper and digital zeros just like a game. ” The all the kings horses and all the kings men will not be able to put the economy together again.

    • Of course it’s just paper and digital bits. Of course some people are more industrious than others. Of course some people won’t take care of a home, whether owned or not. What is your point?

      You may feel no obligation to those who don’t want to help themselves. But those that do want to help themselves should be able to do so with respect and dignity.

  15. “Created UnEqual”… So prescient.

  16. “….Differences in economic power always translate, under all systems and at all times, into differences in political power. …. The elections under plutocracy offer only a choice among politicians who all work for that plutocracy, and who differ only in whether they adhere to the hard or soft version of plutocratic neoliberalism. …”
    World History is one long story about money and who is given or simply took the right to have the most!
    The Rich know MONEY is POWER in every respect! History clearly proves Money has always provided the Power to drive the masses in any direction of its chosing. Socially – Economically – Politically – Militarily!
    The history of America has likewise always been about the money! A Nation clearly based on the myth of Free Market Capitalism and Democracy. The Ultra Wealthy have always been above the Law because they are the Law!
    Tax cuts since the 60’s created the now CentaMillionaire$ and Billionire$ who used their wealth to corrupt our law and the government! Corruption of Government caused the $TRILLION$ in losses to uninformed consumers!
    The unregulated Corruption of our Banks and “THEIR” Governments Clear Failure to prosecute known criminal acts stand as clear proof of that fact – for anyone who can think!
    We have no say in what happens.
    The ULTRA WEALTHY OWN the Goernment and that’s a fact!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Very interesting article. I’m a fiscal conservative, social Libertarian, and while I dont agree with some of the reasoning used, I do agree with the idea. I’ve talked with many conservatives who complain about the dependency environment with programs like long term unemployment (99 weeks is ridiculous — what skills could someone have after not working for 2 years), food stamps, etc. During the Great Depression, people had to work for any government benefits, even if it meant turning bricks on the public streets. While I think any work should be more productive than that, I think there are ample opportunities available in our economy today. Ask yourself how much public transportation construction and enhancements alone could be done by some of those who are receiving unemployment?

    While the rationale from each side would be different, I think it is an idea that could get some traction, and could provide great benefits for our country. Looking forward to reading part three.

  18. There are a couple of issues that seem to be ignored when discussing the Jobs Guarantee program.
    The first issue is the fact that jobs + wages/salaries, = the major source of interest free purchasing power for the vast majority of people.
    The second issue is the fact that wages/salaries only represent 25% to 30% of the cost related to any undertaking. In simple terms, this is the A+B theorem where A= wages and B = all the ancillary costs in producing any product or service.
    B consists of the cost of raw materials, an amortised proportion of the capital costs, overhead costs, taxes and a profit margin.
    B is always built into the price of any product, or service, while A is nearly always reduced by income tax, compulsory deductions for superannuation and/or health care, plus all the various sales taxes added by government.
    As a result, the employee is always behind the eight ball because, his purchasing power can never equate with the cost of the products and services he needs.
    As a result, the workers, as a class, are virtually forced into borrowing in order to meet the standard of living that is continually thrust upon them through media bombardment.
    So, indirectly, what a Jobs Guarantee does is perpetuate the continual indebtedness of the society to the banking and financial sector.
    A third issue is the fact that the last 200 years has seen an exponential progress along the path of producing more with a continuous reduction in human effort.
    In other words, progress has been aimed at putting people out of work and providing them with more leisure time to enjoy the fruits of their inherited advancement.
    In essence, most modern day developed societies are capable of producing all their needs with a fraction of the labour force – or – with a labour force working a reduced number of hours.
    So far, none of these issues seem to have been considered when talking about a “full Employment” program.

  19. It’s a little late in the discussion but I have to ask (rhetorically) can the United States really afford not to have a JG? Many of the misinformed are worried about being the next Greece but we are at greater risk of becoming the next Somalia .in 2009 the American Society of Civil Engineers rated our infrastructure a “D” I have always contended however that the families of the Minnisota bridge crash would rate it “F”


  20. –it requires a commitment to a more equal society which in turn can be secured only by a commitment to full employment–

    By arguing to have a more ‘equal society’, is it not another way to defend to socialise the resources and to ask for a socialistic pattern of economy? Full employment cannot be taken as an equal employment. By equal employment I understand that everybody should have equal access to resources whether he deserves it or not. Can Dan give us something more about his approach for his theory of full employment?

  21. Reading this thread produces dispair : judging from this sample, my fellow citizens are all part of a cult that cannot be affected by evidence.
    There are NO examples of countries that have successfully managed their economies over 2 or more generations. None.
    There are very fundamental reasons that cannot happen : mathematical chaos, computational complexity and the emergent properties of systems all combine to make the future inpenetrable. Without being able to predict any future, how do you navigate to a desired future? Please think about that point : it is really easy to gloss it over, but you can’t make a world work unless you can predict the future in sufficient detail and have a map of that future such that you know to make move X when situation Y occurs. You do NOT have that information, and we know that because all attempts to manage the economy produce low economic growth rates, a standard result in the ‘total government burden’ studies over 50 years and many countries.
    Equally fundamental, we cannot do control systems for open, evolving, complex systems. We can do control systems for mechanisms, not open, evolving, complex systems. We are able to control quite complex mechanisms, e.g. airliners and driverless cars, but not the weather or economies. Businesses and human physiologies are as complex as we can imagine, and both of those have the huge advantages of many replicants and case studies, physiology has animal models to do experiments on. Nevertheless, we routinely see huge failures in controlling businesses and human physiologies : most businesses eventually go broke and all of us eventually die.
    Economics is based on the same kind, type, class of data that historians use, and has the same limitations : these things happened at points in time. That is far from adequate for building a control system.
    There are NO examples of implementing a Jobs Guarantee program, or any other such economic control, that has not quickly trashed the economy. The French just put the final piece of such a program in place, with the result that their economy is in a tailspin.
    You guys are as far out in your fantasies as any Social Conservative, Religious Right crazy you could cite. Put any of them in front of a psychiatrist who has no knowledge of their beliefs, he would pronounce them crazy. Put you in front of a practicing epistemologist to explain the sources of your data, your understandings based on that data and your claims of ability to control the economy, he would equally find you insane. Hubris to the yotta power.

  22. When do we get the next installment of this series on full employment. I’ve been anxiously awaiting it!

  23. Clearly America’s Politicians and Courts continue to support the “Right” which CentaMillonaire$ and Billionaire$ possess because of the vast wealth they have been “Allowed” to hoard! A “Right” granted to them by an Economic system which refuses to TAX them out of existence! An Economic system so corrupted by GREED that it can NEVER be fixed.
    “A social system only works if there are people willing to carry it out. The USSR collapsed when the people running it were unwilling to call out the army. That same class of people, in the Prague Spring, did call the army out. It collapsed because the factory workers weren’t working, the farmers weren’t farming, and so on.

    The US legal system (it does not deserve to be called a justice system) works because people carry out its dictates. The people who run the prisons put up with, or even encourage the rapes. Private companies make money from prisoners, so need more prisons. The police make huge amounts of money by seizing the assets of “criminals” before they are even convicted. The judges put up with the 3 strikes laws and mandated sentencing. They allow trials to be put back and back rather than throwing them out due to lack of a speedy trial. Everyone is onside with plea bargaining. The rich are good with this because they either get a real trial, or they don’t get charged at all. The middle class think that if they’re “good” they’ll be ok, till they find out otherwise, and the poor put up with it because of a boot in the face and much more.”