May 14, 2017
Republican and Democratic officials both hailed the report that unemployment had dropped to 4.4 per cent in April. “Great news,” said Trump’s Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta. “The momentum in the job market is really impressive,” said Jason Furman, who had been Obama’s chief economist.
The New York Times ran an article called, “We’re Getting Awfully Close to Full Employment.”
Full employment? Not at all – and the government’s own statistics show it. A much smaller share of the population has a job today. After eight years of supposed economic recovery, the employed part of the population is as low as it was during the depths of the 1992 and 2001 recessions.
And what about all those “spiffy” new jobs that employers are supposed to be creating? Most of them are part-time, temporary or low-paid full time jobs. Some of the “jobs” companies are offering, aren’t even jobs. Companies contract out the work to individual workers, pretending that workers are “entrepreneurs” or one-person companies. No, they’re not “entrepreneurs.” They are simply very low paid workers, barely making minimum wage – and not always that.
To call this “full employment” is nothing but a sick joke.
And yet there could be jobs. In every city, town and village, there’s work that needs to be done. This country lacks affordable housing, decent schools and health care facilities, not to speak of decent parks and recreational facilities. To build them would create jobs. Millions more jobs could be created to repair crumbling basic infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, etc. And millions more new jobs could be created by properly staffing all the workplaces that today push one worker to do the job of two or three. Construction sites, factories, post offices, stores and administrative offices could double employment immediately.
Why aren’t workers being hired to do this necessary work? Not because of a lack of wealth. This society is extremely rich and getting richer. Every year, the working class produces a larger mass of real wealth – needed goods and services.
The main obstacle is the capitalist class. The capitalists make up a tiny part of society, very much less than one per cent of the population. But the capitalists – and the capitalists alone – today hold power over the economy and the society. They use that power to increase their own profits and wealth. And in this time of crisis and decline, the capitalists steal an ever larger share of the wealth created by the working class. The capitalist drive for profit is what has created this growing reservoir of joblessness and near-joblessness, as well as dropping income levels.
Repair what needs to be repaired. Build what needs to be built. Set up what the population needs. Slow down the pace of work. And if that doesn’t provide enough jobs, then share out the available work. Instead of one worker doing the work of two, divide the work in half, double the workforce in every factory and office and worksite. Instead of people having to work heavy overtime to make ends meet, reduce the hours of work for everyone with no loss in weekly pay. Share out the work. We could ALL work thirty hours a week – and ALL have a decent wage.
Don’t say this is impossible. The wealth our labor produces is so much greater than it was even 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. Goals like this are perfectly reasonable.
But neither Democrats nor Republicans would impose them, and the capitalists will never do it of their own volition. It we want a decent life – enough work for everyone, decent wages for everyone, adequate services and education – we will have to fight to impose it ourselves.
We have to take the power over society away from the capitalist class. The working class has the forces to do it – we produce the goods and services needed, we make society run. We could run it to serve ourselves, to serve the whole population.