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Full Employment

Economic Justice Coalition Launches ‘Full Employment For All’ Campaign

In an effort to "create an economy of full employment for all regardless of race, gender, or religion," 10 leading U.S. economic advocacy groups on Monday launched a new campaign calling for a federally subsidized jobs program targeting communities plagued by high unemployment. The Full Employment for All campaign is timed to coincide with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday and the 60th anniversary year of King's "I Have a Dream Speech." Just as King's indictments of U.S. capitalism and militarism are often overlooked, omitted, or overshadowed by his civil rights work, the full name and purpose of the August 1963 demonstration—the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom—have been eclipsed by the iconic speech he delivered there. A year before his April 1968 assassination—which happened while he was supporting striking Black Memphis sanitation workers—King wrote that "we must create full employment or we must create incomes."

Why Full Employment Was A Great Idea, But Is No More

Hoping to recapture the White House in the United States’ bicentennial year, Congressional Democrats introduced legislation to guarantee  a job to nearly every adult who wanted one.  Sponsored by Minnesota’s liberal lion, U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey, and California Congressman Augustus Hawkins – one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus – the bill would’ve required the executive branch to establish nationwide quotas for industrial output, and forecast the number of jobs necessary to meet those annual  benchmarks. However many jobs the private sector could not – or would not – provide would be absorbed by the federal government at the prevailing wage.

Only 1 In 3 Americans Work Full Time

In last week’s discussion of the job guarantee, a lot was said about the “dignity of work” and other things of that sort. I’ve mostly avoided that topic because I am more interested in technical details than philosophical concepts at this point in my life. But the questions of work — whether it is good or bad, fulfilling or alienating, dignified or exploitive — are nonetheless interesting ones that I think are worthy of some intraleft debate. My view on work is generally negative. Work swallows up your time, tends to subordinate you to others, and is usually not very fun. For the time being, work is a necessary evil because we need the things it produces, but it would be nice to keep it to a minimum and have more leisure.

Full Employment And Path To Shared Prosperity

There are many policies that can reduce inequality, but there is none as straightforward conceptually and as difficult politically as full employment. The basic point is simple: at low rates of unemployment, the demand for labor allows workers at the middle and bottom of the wage distribution to achieve gains in hourly wages, annual hours of work, and thus income. Levels of unemployment are not the gift or curse of the gods; they are the result of conscious economic policy. The decision to tolerate high rates of unemployment is a choice. It is one that has enor-mous implications not just for the millions of people who are needlessly unemployed or underemployed but also for tens of millions of workers in the bottom half of the wage distribution whose bar-gaining power is undermined by high unemployment.
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