Until we remove the corporate control from the government, any sort of 'full employment' system will be subverted by corporate interests. I do believe that the US government needs to enact some ccc type programs to help get people working, and to rebuild the infrastructure, however, an unfettered federal full employment mandate on its own will end up with companies laying off people, and then re-jobbing them at the same job, but for less money, and on the taxpayer dime. Look at how so called workfare programs have turned out, and prison sweatshops. The idea of "re-educating" or "re-training" conservatives because they are "wrong" is exactly the sort of divisive type of ideal that has no place in a free society. It harkens back to the BIA schools, where native kids were forced to speak english and attend Christian church because "paganism' was wrong... We may disagree wit their ideals, but to presume that we are 'right' and they are 'wrong' is absurd... Wrong how? Morally wrong? If so, who is the arbiter of morality?
There are many common causes that we can work with Conservatives on, like foreign war and reducing the military budget. We will not be able to make any meaningful progress without the funds, and as long as an obscene amount of our economy is tied up in the military we won't have the funds to do it. Many Conservatives (as opposed to neo-cons, which includes essentially the entire 2party) have been calling for drastic military cuts, and pulling out of our foreign entanglements. If we start from the fallacy that we have the moral high ground, or are superior then there will be no way to even try to work with them.
That multiple people in party leadership consider full employment a requisite issue for the Justice Party strikes me as an Achilles heel to the organization. There are several reasons why I think this cannot ultimately be one of the Justice Party’s official goals:
1) First of all, how will you measure success? How will you know when you have achieved full employment? Unless – and really, even if -- the unemployment rate got to 0%, you couldn’t be sure that every person who wanted a job actually had a job. And if the rate remains above 0% how will you know that all of that is frictional or voluntary? Most economists suggest that “full employment” would be somewhat above 0%, but how will you know at just what level you’ve achieved the goal? Insofar as other things may be equal, not being able to know when a goal has been achieved is a reason to avoid such a goal.
2) I don’t believe that full employment is POSSIBLE in the real world insofar as you have some people who seek unemployment status for its own sake. Are you going to force those people to take a job? And I don’t believe people, or a party, are wise to take on goals that are impossible.
3) What is the reason that you want full employment? Employment in itself doesn’t seem like something people would desire in itself: you just like people being busy at work? I doubt it. Isn’t the reason tied to the supposition that employment is THE means to having an income for most people in our society? So then the real goal here is NOT full employment, but rather everyone having the wherewithal to provide themselves with a living income. That being so, why not put THAT, your actual goal, as the goal, and leave the means aside. That way if some other means is found to achieve the true goal, it wouldn’t matter whether full employment were achieved or not. This seems particularly important when you realize that the correlation between jobs and income is a characteristic of a particular mode of production and time period, that in which the vast majority of people are wage or salary workers. If we went back even 150 years ago that would have been true for a small portion of our population, and there is a good likelihood that at some point in our future it will again not make much sense. Why not plan for that economic future and focus on people having what they need to live, e.g. rather than insist on doing it through (wage) employment?
And while I’m at it, these last two points also hold for the general goal of “equality”:
2) You can (hopefully) get equality of human rights, civil rights & liberties, and equality under the law. That alone is a very substantial and worthy goal. But I don’t believe it is possible for there ever to be full equality with regards to things such as social statuses, economics, life chances, etc. There is just too much variability in people’s lives and so much of that variability is valued by the society. You can’t control it, even if you wanted to. Every society known to mankind through history has had some amount and some forms of inequality. To think that we are going to create the first society that is an exception, against a core understanding of what inequality even is, is a fool’s errand.
3) Why are we concerned about inequality? In itself, who would care about inequality per se except some very petty person that looks over and says, oh, his share of the cookie is two crumbs greater than mine?! We care because of the consequences, we care when the inequality is structural or systematic rather than idiosyncratic, and especially we care about inequality whenever and wherever that inequality is unjust. That is, concern about inequality is always, or nearly always, concern about injustice. The inequalities we want to eliminate are those which we see as being unjust. So instead of calling for equality -- which will make every thoughtful, rational person shake their head or laugh at the absurdity of our party – why don’t instead we call for justice, i.e. the elimination of unjust inequalities? Which is, potentially, an achievable goal.
We have to avoid being so committed to particular mechanisms for achieving goals that we are blind to the possibility of achieving them in other ways, and thoughtful enough to see when a particular mechanism may not be possible. This is part of the reason why, IMO, it would be desirable to begin with the values, cascade to the goals that come from those values, and THEN figure out what policies might be able to achieve the goals, with an open mind and awareness that there is often, as they say, more than one way to skin a cat. It doesn’t make logical sense to be committed to particular policies, then define your goals based on your policy commitments, and then demand values that fit those goals.
"In real life, today, we are not dealing with a society of more than a century ago or the society based on your sci-fi delusions a few centuries into the future; if your predictions of the future come true."Alan, do you fail to see that the point of mentioning the historical specificity of the assumptions on which your policy is predicated is not to suggest that we are in the past or the future, but to show that the fundamental assumption on which your theory is based is historically dependent, and thus cannot be generally true? Policy based on flawed theory will fail. "I'm not sure what present life expectancy is in this country right now; suffice it to say most of us will not live long enough for your fairy-tale imagination to take hold."That "fairy-tale" future that I imagine is something that we are apparently already underway towards. It is probably true that most or all those of us alive today will likely be dead before the transition completes, if it even does go that way. But we should be building a party based on timeless values. "We have tens of millions of unemployed, under-employed and poverty-waged people in our country right here and now who need, and are entitled to, living wage jobs."Why? If people are underemployed, but make a decent living, is that a social problem that the government must fix? If they are unemployed because they want to be unemployed, must the government force them to work? If they are employed but poverty-waged, or poor as a result of undesired unemployment, that IS a problem that we have collective responsibility to fix, but it doesn't seem that putting these people to work is the ONLY possible solution. The reason its a problem isn't the lack of work, per se, but rather the poverty, isn't it? "Making the United States government responsible for full employment is *all about* [emphais added] eliminating poverty."Precisely. So, if you eliminated poverty by other means, you wouldn't need full employment. Which is very convenient given the difficulties with the concept of full employment. "It is also about [sic] upholding the most basic and fundamental human right to a job"For millenia people got by without jobs, and they are likely going to have to do it again in the future. The idea that there is a "human right" to a job is laughable. The idea that it is the most basic and fundamental of human rights is even more preposterous. More important than life itself? More important than liberty? More important than freedom of thought and conscience? Get real!"You are in a very small minority in this country if you think the United States government shouldn't be made responsible for assuring full employment."I highly doubt that. I don't have any statistics -- if you do, please share them -- but I'd bet a nice dinner that the majority of Americans don't believe that the government should be responsible for assuring full employment. And if they did, it would be evidence of just how irrational people can be that they would think the government would be responsible for achieving something that probably isn't even possible. You are stuck, perhaps hopelessly so, on this belief that full employment can be obtained and that it is the ONLY possible way to achieve the desired changes in society. So much so, apparently, that the means to the goal has become the goal itself for you. You won't consider the possibility of achieving the original goal via other means.And, just to be totally clear, lest anyone misunderstand what I've written, I do believe that insofar as there are people who don't have access to means of having a 'living wage' and who desire to have such access -- there are a few people who choose poverty -- that it is a social problem that we should be addressing, and that programs to try to get jobs for people who want them are a good thing, I just don't believe (1) that full employment is likely to ever be attained, or (2) that jobs are a goal in their own right as opposed to a means toward a decent living, and I do believe (3) that there are other ways of achieving the goal of everyone having access to a decent living, i.e. elimination of poverty.
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