To preserve American capitalism, enhance the well-being of workers, and restore the health of the social and political order, the men and women who belonged to the AALL [American Association for Labor Legislation] and the Massachusetts Committee on Unemployment advocated a multipronged approach to the problem of joblessness. They urged both that steps be taken to prevent unemployment from occurring and that the state assume responsibility for aiding and subsidizing those workers who did lose their jobs. John B. Andrews's Practical Program for the Prevention of Unemployment in America, an extremely influential manifesto first published in 1914, called for public employment exchanges, the expansion of public works projects during depressions, alterations in the productive rhythms of seasonal industries, and state-sponsored unemployment insurance. Andrews's Practical Program, which was the intellectual starting point for reform agitation in Massachusetts and elsewhere, also advocated a reduction in the hours of labor, an immigration policy sensitive to the dangers of an oversupply of labor, the stimulation of an agricultural revival in the United States, the development of industrial training programs, and the prohibition of industrial employment for boys and girls under the age of sixteen. By acting on most or all of these fronts, reformers believed that state and federal authorities could dramatically reduce the incidence and impact of unemployment.EDIT: I should have given some reasons why I posted this. First, it shows that Keynes' policy prescriptions were not contingent on the forces occurring during the Great Depression. Second, it identifies very nicely the conservative character of full employment policies. Third, it demonstrates nicely why and how the state attempted to interact with labor markets prior to the New Deal. Finally, does it not prove how old some of these ideas are? Shouldn't we be searching for a new set of policies that might actually change workers' positions to really alleviate them of the ails of unemployment or other system-related problems?
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
the moral and economic imperative of full employment
From Alex Keyssar, Out of Work (Cambridge University Press, 1986).