Three Book Reviews Cover 100 Years

March 25th, 2014
in Op Ed

Individual Unemployment, Aggregate UnImagination and Cultural Inadequacy

by Roger Erickson, Mike Norman Economics Blogspot

Here are three imteresting references on why a job guarantee is common sense from 1892, 1943 and 1987.

Follow up:


The Unemployed
John Burns, 1892, UK
(free google ebook)

This text is worth reading, despite the wordy style and dense text formatting of the day. You can see the beginnings of many things that later became regulated policy, like the 8 hour work day. Guaranteed use of available labor is also discussed, even though that hasn't yet come to pass.

Burns suggests that a public "Ministry of Labor & Fine Arts" provide a minimal part time job guarantee, to keep citizens engaged in work useful for communities. Sounding a bit like Herbert Hoover later on, he suggests

"... dealing in an organized manner, with the industrial, technical and artistic sides of the production of wealth that are now forgotten in the vulgar scramble for personal gain."

p13: "The fact is, custom, caprice and fashion have imposed upon all communities many cruel and absurd practices which entail overwork for short periods and lack of work at others."

and regarding work itself:

"... there is no fear of the owners doing it themselves" :)

You have to wonder what our tribal ancestors would have thought, upon hearing these words. They'd likely wonder how on earth we got so disorganized? We have idle people available, willing to work, so just put them to work, by using our imagination?

Individual Unemployment = Aggregate UnImagination?


The Unemployed
Eli Ginzberg, (1943)

unemployment = "shortfall in demand for labor, not ... [individual] inadequacies of [citizens]"

That's an improvement over current discussions, but again, why isn't this seen as a shortfall in imagination? Individual Unemployment = Aggregate UnImagination = Cultural Inadequacy?


A job guarantee for long-term unemployed people
Richard Jackman, John Cahill, 1987
Cornell University Employment Institute

[No ebook; only US copy is in the Cornell U Library in Ithaca, NY?]

The date of this book helps show that a job guarantee has been discussed steadily by diverse people, for over 100 years.

For most of human history, a job guarantee was implicit. The only reason it isn't implicit now is because of a lack of aggregate imagination?

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