"In Washington it is much easier to blame unemployed workers for their supposed lack of skills than to blame the bankers whose avarice fueled the housing bubble that eventually brought down the financial system and the economy with it. Creating training programs is also easier and cheaper than creating jobs."
"Georgia Works May Work, but It Sure Doesn't Pay," Truthout, 9/11
"Congress should focus its attention on raising the minimum wage and creating fair-wage jobs if it really wants to cut the [food stamp] rolls, not on punishing poor people and increasing hunger in America."
Bill Ayres, letter to NY Times, Sept 24, 2013
Americans believe that there is a law that protects them from
being fired for 'no cause'. But they're wrong. When entering
the workplace, citizens are transformed into employees who leave
their rights at the door."
Bernard, "Why Unions Matter; Why Full
Employment Matters to Unions," Uncommon Sense 20, NJFAC,
adapted from New Party Paper 4:
"In addition to influences on mental disorder, suicide and alcohol abuse and alcoholism, unemployment is also an important risk factor in cardiovascular disease and overall decreases in life expectancy."
M. Harvey Brenner, "Major Factors in the Prediction of National Life Expectancy: GDP & Unemployment," Testimony before the US Senate Com. on Environment and Public Works, 6/11
"Much of the current debate about deficits seems to ignore the lessons of the 1930s. Instead, we hear calls to cut the deficit, to reduce government expenditure, to let the private sector flourish. On the whole, this chorus of opinion has its base in the corporate and financial community. But, as in the 1930s, they have been joined by voices from the academic community. The combination of corporate special pleading and academic legitimacy has been irresistible for the Canadian media. The move to deficit reduction has become the conventional wisdom of the day. The correctness of such a policy is projected as being beyond dispute."
Harold Chorney, "The Deficit: Hysteria and the Current Crsis," 10/11
"Too often, the effort to end unemployment is perceived as a task for the unemployed. This is identity politics at its worst. Joblessness affects all of us—and there needs to be a collective effort to end economic insecurity and to meet the real needs of our society."
Noreen Connell, "The Politics of Unemployment," speech at National Organization for Women program, September, 2012
"A job should keep you out of poverty,
not keep you in it. Full-time minimum wage workers earn $10,700
a year, which is about $5,000 below the poverty line for a family
of three. This is a moral outrage."
Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, National
Council of Churches News Service, Dec. 2005
conservative economists do not really care about the deficit. They
advocate balanced budgets because their real desire is to cut government
spending, particularly on the "social programs" they abhor. And
that shows up the worst effects of deficit paranoia. It is used
to justify depriving the American people of their health care, their
education and all of the public investment on which their future
Eisner, "Why the Debt Isn't All Bad: Balancing Our Deficit
Thinking," Uncommon Sense 9,NJFAC. Reprinted with
permission from The Nation magazine. (c)1995, The Nation
Security is not "underfunded." It is not, in fact, possible
to pre-fund Social Security. Tomorrow's Social Security will be
paid by tomorrow's workers, out of tomorrow's national product,
according to benefit schedules set by law at that time. Those
trust funds are just an accounting device, wipe them out and
nothing would happen; today's surpluses are just as irrelevant,
in economic terms, as tomorrow's deficits. Regressive payroll taxes
today buy jet fighters and aircraft carriers. It would not
be a bad thing if, twenty years from now, some progressive income
taxes were used to pay for pensions."
K. Galbraith, "I Don't Want to Talk About It," Texas Observer,
April 15, 1998
begin with capitalism, a word that has gone largely out of fashion.
The approved reference now is to the market system. This shift minimizes--indeed,
deletes--the role of wealth in the economic and social system. And
it sheds the adverse connotation going back to Marx. Instead of
the owners of capital or their attendants in control, we have the
admirably impersonal role of market forces. It would be hard to
think of a change in terminology more in the interest of those to
whom money accords power."
Kenneth Galbraith, "Free
Market Fraud," The Progressive, January1999
"In fact, if modern capitalism continues to eliminate as many jobs as it creates — or more jobs than it creates — future recoveries will not only add to the amount of surplus labor but will turn a growing proportion of workers into superfluous ones. What could be done to prevent such a future? America will have to finally get serious about preserving and creating jobs — and on a larger, and more lasting, scale than Roosevelt’s New Deal. Private enterprise and government will have to think in terms of industrial policy, and one that emphasizes labor-intensive economic growth and innovation.
Herbert J.Gans, "The Age of theSuperfluous Worker," NYT, 11/11
making their case, advocates should emphasize that full employment
policies are mandated by the US Constitution and the United Nations
Charter, which the United States is committed to uphold. They should
also make clear that actions by the US Government and by the Federal
Reserve Bank to create involuntary unemployment to fight inflation
are violations of international and human rights law."
Gil, "Full Employment: The 'Supreme Law
of the Land,' " Uncommon Sense 6, NJFAC
recession is making us sick, the employed as well as the unemployed.
For most, losing your job means losing your health insurance. You
drop your gym membership if you have one. You delay medical care
to save the cost. You eat cheaper, less healthy foods. You roam
the streets applying for jobs below your skill level, even part-time
jobs at low wages just to bring something home. Your skills deteriorate.
Your confidence in yourself, in your future and your country begins
to melt away."
Jerome Grossman, Chair
(Emeritus), Council for a Livable World,
creation is expensive, but so is joblessness. The true cost of creating
jobs for everyone who wants to work is the difference between
the cost of creating the jobs and the costs of unemployment that
governments already bear. Creating jobs for all might end up saving
taxpayers more money than it costs them."
Philip Harvey, "Paying for Full Employment," Uncommon Sense
14 , NJFAC
"I would hope that eventually one of
these days we will commit ourselves to a 'full employment' economy
in which we give the private sector the opportunity to provide the
jobs, but if it doesn't, that we, through government, will develop
projects—and there are plenty of them to be developed—that
will employ people rather than provide the welfare. Our infrastructure
is being depreciated so badly. Half the bridges in this country
are unsafe, we have a very bad transportation system, our roads
need repairing, and all of this work needs to be done, and yet we
have unemployed people. Eventually we have to recognize this problem
and do something about it."
Hon. Augustus F. Hawkins, Tape
Number: III, Side Two, pp.112-3, November 18, 1992
"That's kind of the beauty of the whole
thing, that by doing something for people outside of organized labor,
we've given ourselves a chance to provide a wage floor, a basement
level, so to speak. That's the self-serving side of it. Working
the fight for a minimum wage was a good thing."
Denis M. Hughes, "A Voice
for Labor, Deftly Applied," NY Times, Dec.21, 2004,
Instead of proving to be "labor saving
devices," our machines create more work for more of us to do!
Instead of the "problem" of leisure, we face an array
of problems caused by overwork; families that erode because we have
less time to be at home, troubled and troubling young people who
share little or no time with adults, anemic communities bled dry
of the people's time, their life's blood, and institutions that
focus solely on teaching people how to work rather than how to live
Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt,
Origins of the Time Famine," Abstract of a paper presented
at the APA/NIOH Interdisciplinary Conference on Work, Stress and
Health in Baltimore, March 11-13, 1999.
"It's a kind of paradoxical thing: on average,
people with more education are better paid, and for any individual,
it may make sense. And so every parent wants that for their kid,
but if you look at the country as a whole, the total percentage
of American jobs that require a college degree is between 25 and
30 percent, and no economist thinks it's going to be more than that
any time in our lifetimes. So the idea that if everybody got professional
training, everybody would be earning professional wages is totally
The Job Training Charade, Cornell Univ Press, 2002
the total number of decent jobs is significantly increased for everybody,
millions of white male workers will tend to see affirmative action
as the enemy. Progressive political initiatives like affirmative
action are always more acceptable when economic opportunities are
Marable, "Full Employment and Affirmative Action," Uncommon
Sense 7, NJFAC
"The joy of accomplishing production. It's a great thing. The work I've been doing now for some time is writing an article, writing a book, or researching something. It's an accomplishment. It's a great thing. No, more exactly, it's living. It's being alive. To be productive is to be alive."
"I find that the working poor share values
and goals with many middle class Americans: they want their children
to succeed where they have faltered; they want to live in safe,
secure neighborhoods; they look to the work world as a place in
which to find meaning, even in menial jobs. Yet the commonalities
with the middle class end at the point where we consider the barriers
they face. In periods of high growth, labor market opportunities
open up and make it possible for the working poor to become upwardly
mobile. But in bad times, the resistance of employers, the consequences
of erratic ties to the labor market generated by family demands,
and the difficulty of piling up more educational credentials come
home to roost."
Katherine Newman, http://genderandsecurity.researchhub.ssrc.org/person.2006-06-27.232308-1/person_view
"... employment is very much
a part of being a citizen....The case is not that wage labour is
so good, or that the meaning of citizenship should be reduced to
membership in the workforce. Far from these limitations, the issue
is rather that exclusion from the mainstream of economic life cannot
even allow for the possibility of developing an inclusive, active
Jocelyn Pixley, Citizenship
and Employment, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
"...beyond the amount of money you earn,
your job is also crucial for establishing your sense of security
and self-worth, your health and safety, your ability to raise a
family, and your chances to participate in the life of your community.
In broader economic and social terms, when an economy operates at
a high employment level—i.e. at something approaching full
employment—this creates as a matter of course a high level
of overall purchasing power in the economy, since people will have
more money in their pockets to spend. This means more buoyant markets,
greater business opportunities for both small and large firms, and
strong incentives for private businesses to increase their level
of investment. An economy with an abundance of decent jobs will
also promote both individual opportunity and equality, because this
kind of economy offers everyone the chance to provide for themselves
and their families."
Robert Pollin, "Is
Full Employment Possible Under Globalization?" The Sumner
Rosen Memorial Lecture, Columbia University, November 16, 2006
“There are many 'little Katrina' disasters across the nation where the poor are ignored and are left out of society. Society deems poverty a stigma but those trapped in poverty don't have choices, ... They cannot move out of the whirlpool of poor education, poor employment opportunities and prevalence of crime in their neighborhoods.”
Sister Helen Prejean quotes
"Expecting only the unguided market to
steadily create good jobs at good wages is like expecting your car
to watch your kids. It cannot happen. The common good is irrelevant
to the market. Looking after the common good is the job of civil
society and democratic government."
"... the right to a job without a right to a living wage is
just as weak as the right to a living wage without a job. Both rights
must remain intact and linked together."
William P. Quigley,
Ending Poverty as We Know It: Guaranteeing a Right to a Job
at a Living Wage. Philadelphia: Temple University Press,
is not enough that someone be ready and willing to work. There should
be a job. That monetary policy is now engineered to lift short-term
interest rates when the official rate of unemployment sinks much
lower than 5.5 percent presents a logical inconsistency with this
principle„. Democrats should use welfare reform as a way to revive
the debate over the best means of assuring "full employment."
Reich , "Up from Bipartisanship,"The American Prospect,
"FDR never did get the
Keynesian thing, and therefore the whole New Deal effort was not
big enough," said Roosevelt, 70. "I mean, it didn't get us out
of the Depression, really, until World War II came along, and
then government spending really got big enough to really employ
everybody and then some." "I think Obama has to learn from that*
and forget about balancing the budget. ...Spend, spend, spend
until we've done enough to stop this decline." *"FDR even
sparked a new economic downturn in 1937 by attempting to balance
"FDR's grandson has advice for Obama"
Lower Hudson Valley, Gannett 6/10
government job creation programs have at times been considered 'un-American,'
nothing could be further from the truth. They have a long history
in the US and have been enacted periodically, especially when rising
unemployment has caused protest. For example, during the Embargo
of 1807, a mass meeting of unemployed seamen led New York City to
put them to work on projects such as building the new city hall
and cleaning and repairing streets. Public works projects were set
up by cities during recessions and depressions from the early 1800s
through the first few years of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
They were primarily developed for white, male heads-of-households,
although some sewing projects were set up for women and for men
unable to work outdoors."
Rose, "Workfare vs. Fair Work: Public
Job Creation," Uncommon Sense 16, NJFAC
"The central principle is 'Decent Work';
it is clear, practical, difficult but achievable. It lays the groundwork
for a global economy that will deserve to be called one of the great
historic achievements, a renaissance worthy of the highest praise
that history and humanity can provide." Sumner
Rosen, co-founder of the National Jobs for All Coalition,
internal paper, 2005.
"The average American now finds it harder
to achieve a satisfying standard of living than 25 years ago. Work
requires longer hours, jobs are less secure, and pressures to spend
more intense. Consumption-induced environmental damage remains pervasive,
and we are in the midst of widespread failures of public provision.
While the current economic boom has allayed consumers' fears for
the moment, many Americans have long-term worries about their ability
to meet basic needs, ensure a decent standard of living for their
children, and keep up with an ever-escalating consumption norm."
"The New Politics of Consumption: Why Americans want so much
more than they need," Boston Review, Summer 1999
usually mistrust older people's giving advice to younger, because
while often their advice is very good (the values of foresight,
temperance, persistence, etc.), they forget that younger people
usually know one of the most important things of all: the value
of enthusiasm and enjoyment of life.....It’s
better to take a job you want at less pay than a job you don’t
want for more pay. But you can learn from any job."
Seeger Talks To Teens," Seventeeen, 11/63
generosity does not lead to higher rates of poverty, as conservatives
in the United States claim. On the contrary, countries with far
more generous government programs have significantly lower poverty
rates than does the United States, which has both the lowest level
of benefits and the highest rates of poverty.......What are the
policies that succeed in reducing poverty among families with children?
First, all the European countries cited provide a childrenôs
or family allowance.... A second element of the family policy in
place in all European countries--and virtually all other industrialized
countries as well--is some form of national health insurance or
national health service which assures all families and individuals
access to health care. Third, some of these countries provide universal,
low-cost or free preschool care to all or almost all children from
the age of two or three. Fourth, many industrialized countries provide
special benefits for divorced families, guaranteeing a minimum amount
of child support if the non-custodial parent fails to pay.
Ruth Sidel, "Needed:
A National Commitment to Families," Uncommon Sense 17,
NJFAC, adapted from Keeping Women and Children Last: America's
War on the Poor, Penguin.
"In our time, conservative
Republicans and Democrats have de-legitimated the very notion of
nationally managed social provision, while enacting repeated tax
cuts that starve the federal government of the future revenues it
will need for Social Security and Medicare—let alone the resources
to fund adequate, universal family supports....The cycle of ever-exacerbated
inequality....will not be interrupted by cost-benefit appeals alone.
Instead, working men and women—assembled in popularly rooted
institutions such as churches, trade unions, and translocally linked
community groups—will have to find a way to forge a new majority
movement, calling for family protections for all Americans."
"The Political Bind," Boston Review, Feb/Mar
"A major national jobs program would
require affirmative action for those living in depressed communities,
but it need not be limited to the very poor. It should be open to
a broad spectrum of Americans-such as the working-class men and
women in the Midwest who lost good factory jobs and now eke out
a living at Wal-Mart."
Frank Stricker, "Help
Wanted: Too Many Workers, Not Enough Jobs," Commonweal,
October 24, 2008
[a Queens public housing project] used to have a higher mortality
rate over there. I'd like to think we had something to do with lowering
it by offering the young people employment."
di Suvero, quoted in New York Times, May 14, 1995 about
his firm, Space-Time CC, Inc. and the adjoining Socrates Sculpture
"It's way past time for Americans
to take whatever actions are necessary to make the needs of workers
and their jobs central priorities for our economy."
Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO, America@Work,
"...in the 50's and 60's
the working class through collective bargaining achieved middle
class--with one bread winner. The strikes in the 50's won pensions
and health care benefits. That's history, but there was a time when
working class was middle class, but still working class."
Working Class Studies List, 3/05
"It is a basic principle of fairness that the burden
of policies that are necessary for society--like protecting the
earth's climate--shouldn't be borne by a small minority who happen
to be victimized by their side effects. Unless workers and communities
are protected against the unintended effects of climate protection,
there is likely to be a backlash that threatens the whole effort
to save the planet."
Joe Uehlein, "Will
Workers Be Left Behind in a Green Transition?"
define genuine full employment as a situation where there are at
least as many job openings as there are persons seeking employment,
probably calling for a rate of unemployment, as currently measured,
of between 1 and 2 percent."
Vickrey, Presidential Address, American Economic Association,
January 6, 1993. Adapted for Challenge, M/A 1993.
"In almost all the discussions on globalization, there also has been, rightly, discussion of the need for a sense of solidarity.....just as corporations had become international, so should organizations that support justice for laborers. Solidarity among unions worldwide is absolutely a necessary today, given that competition for more profit is sought at the expense of the laborers. To compete against work done in such primitive and inhuman conditions, many in the U.S. rightly fear that our middle class workforce will become plagued by the same abuses and degradation found in the early industrial period--a combination of plutocratic government and Dickensian labor conditions."
Rembert G.Weakland,"Economic Justice for All 25 Years Later," http://www.anselmacademic.org/Images/EJA-Weakland.pdf
sheer power of corporate capital . . . makes it difficult to even
imagine what a free and democratic society would look like (or how
it would operate) if there were publicly accountable mechanisms
that alleviated the vast disparities in resources, wealth,
and income owing in part to the vast influence of big business on
the U.S. government and its legal institutions."
West, "The Role of Law in Progressive Politics," Politics
of Law, David Kairys (Ed.), 1990
policies are needed to encourage firms to compete on the basis of
innovation, product quality and the development of new markets rather
than by downsizing, outsourcing, moving operations overseas, and
reducing worker wages and benefits. We must devise incentives for
employee participation in business decisions and for compensation
systems that share a firm's prosperity with workers. ... We must
find ways of making corporate management more accountable to the
communities and workers that depend on their firms. International
regulation of corporate conduct should supplement national system
of corporate regulation."
J. Whalen, "High Anxiety: Economic
Insecurity and Jobs for All," Uncommon Sense 11, NJFAC
plagued by high levels of joblessness are more likely to experience
low levels of social organization: the two go hand in hand. High
rates of joblessness trigger other neighborhood problems that undermine
social organization, ranging from crime, gang violence, and drug
trafficking to family breakups and problems in the organization
of family life."
Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears: The World of the New
Urban Poor, p. 21, Knopf, 1996
"We need to organize together for jobs for
all, a living wage for all, and social and economic justice for
all. We need to redirect resources from war and the military and
instead promote peace and economic sustainability."
Kent Wong, Good Jobs for
All Newsletter, Summer, 2004
Quotes from history:
"The only way to keep the Government out of the red is to keep the people out of the red. And so we had to balance the budget of the American people before we could balance the budget of the national Government." - FDR, Address at Forbes Field,
October 1, 1936. Thanks to the Roosevelt Institute
"If we speak of democracy, we do not mean a democracy which maintains the right to vote but forgets the right to work and the right to live. If we speak of freedom, we do not mean rugged individualism which excludes social organization and economic planning. If we speak of equality, we do not mean a political equality nullified by social and economic privilege. If we speak of economic reconstruction, we think less of maximum production (though this too will be required) than of equitable distribution."
Times of London, 1940, a few weeks after removal of British Expeditionary Forces from the Continent of Europe when Britian stood alone against Nazi Germany.
"In the United States I believe there is general agreement that for widespread and extended unemployment useful work at adequate wages on worthwhile public projects is a far better answer than either unemployment benefits or relief. As a general rule, income earned by useful work is better than jobless compensation, however generous. Benefits for the idle are no real solution of the unemployment problem. Regular employment and full employment must be our goal."
Elizabeth Brandeis Raushenbush, Professor, University of Wisconsin, Department of Economics and a specialist on unemployment insurance programs, Social Service Review, December 1946
If we deny our people that right [the right to work], we have denied them everything. If we fail them in preserving that right, we have failed them in everything.
New York Senator Robert F. Wagner, December 11, 1930 speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
"We may as well determine right here and now that we are going to wage relentless war until we abolish involuntary idleness as surely as we abolished involuntary servitude."
Senator Robert F. Wagner
, Spring 1928, prior to Stock Market Crash