|IF IT WERE true that an unemployment problem was ultimately solved by
a war, that suggests to me that the problem is political, not
economic. We simply need to agree that mass unemployment is just as
much of an emergency as a foreign menace. Wasn't the GI Bill motivated
in part by a desire to soak up labor after the war? Don't the
Venezuelans also have a program whose purpose is (to put it crudely)
to soak up labor?
There is always stuff that needs to be done that's not being done. We
always need more therapists, more teachers, more people to help
others, even if we don't need more cars and steel.
I think there ought to be an explicit or implicit government guarantee
of employment for every "able-bodied person" (which in this context,
is almost everyone, since most people can do something - who can't
answer a phone, or watch over something, or keep someone company?) who
wants to work. The government can employ people directly, and also
rent them out to businesses like a temp agency. Is that Keynesian, or
1 in 100 Americans is now in prison. What if we had given those folks
jobs instead? We're paying for their housing, food, clothing and
medical care anyway. Wouldn't we be better off if they were doing
something useful instead?