Money on the Left

Job Guarantee as Historical Struggle w/ David Stein

May 27, 2018
Money on the Left
Job Guarantee as Historical Struggle w/ David Stein
Chapters
Money on the Left
Job Guarantee as Historical Struggle w/ David Stein
May 27, 2018
Money on the Left
David Stein recalls the historical struggle for full employment in the United States.
Show Notes Transcript
Money on the Left is the official podcast of Modern Money Network: Humanities Division (@moneyontheleft). In our first episode, we consider the recent resurgence of full employment politics in the United States from both a political and historical perspective with historian David Stein (@davidpstein). David is currently a fellow at UCLA’s Luskin Center for History and Policy and a lecturer in the departments of History and African American Studies. Check out his recent article in Jacobin: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/05/full-employment-humphrey-hawkins-inflation-jobs-guarantee. Intro music by Hillbilly Motobike: http://hillbillymotobike.bandcamp.com/album/flexiocentrism

Speaker 1:
0:05
[inaudible].
Speaker 2:
0:08
Hello, you're listening to money on the left, the official podcast of the modern money network humanities division. I'm Billy sauce. I'm Scott Ferguson and we are co-directors of the modern money networks humanities division or mmn,
Speaker 1:
0:19
h d m m n h d is a big tent organization for scholars, social critics and political activists dedicated to recovering and redeeming the cultural and political aspects of modern money, past and present. We do this primarily from a humanities perspective, but we welcome participation from anyone interested in engaging with the school of political economy, known variously as neo charter realism or modern money theory in empty for short.
Speaker 2:
0:48
So from our perspective, what's so transformative about MMT is that it turns conventional political economy on its head rather than figuring money as a politically neutral commodity and then it a long time ago by some particularly clever traders in some remote marketplace, m t shows that money is always in everywhere, a boundless public utility as well as a deliberate political, cultural and ecological products.
Speaker 1:
1:11
In doing so, MMT makes so much more thinkable and possible than liberal modalities. Austerity driven imagination has historically permitted and not only expands how money can contribute to collective flourishing. It also reorients how we conceive of cause and effect. As well as how we research and write history. In this podcast, we want to develop and complicate the neo charter list imagination on and for the left.
Speaker 2:
1:39
A key way that neo turtle is in reframes monies. History concerns the question in politics of employment, while the Hegemonic Liberal paradigm treats employment as a function of private hiring and firing. Neo Charter realism understands employment as a thoroughly political decision. The liberal variation permits modest government assistance and makes unemployment inevitable, but MMT insists that employment is first and foremost a policy choice and that full inclusive and ecologically responsible employment is always affordable. In
Speaker 1:
2:13
terms of format, the money in the left podcast plans to feature conversations, scholarly and political close readings of texts, interviews, and occasionally some fresh hot takes on current events. In this our first episode, we invited historian David Stein to help us make sense of the recent resurgence of full employment legislation and debate in the United States. David is currently a fellow at UCLA. Luskin Center for history and policy and a lecturer in the Department of History and African American Studies. His first book will be published in 2019 by University of North Carolina press its title, fearing inflation, inflating fears the civil rights struggle for full employment and the rise of the carceral
Speaker 2:
3:00
state. 1929 to 1986 with Betsy Beasley, he cohost who makes sense, a history of capitalism podcast, which we chat with him about. At the end of the interview, we asked David for some historical perspective on the proposals for a jobs guarantee put forward recently by senators Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory booker, who each seem ready to make the JG a critical plank of their 2020 presidential campaigns. And lots of us in the M and t world are thrilled to see the JG taken up by the front runners for the democratic combination, but some others on the left, many of whom have never challenged the liberal money story worry that the jobs guarantee is alternately pie in the sky progressivism or just another route to work fair. As you'll hear, David puts both the historical fight for full employment and these left critiques in a broader historical context. We were joined in our conversation with David by Max [inaudible], a graduate student in film and Media Studies at University of South Florida. Without further ado, here's our conversation with David. You've done fantastic work or
Speaker 3:
4:06
documenting the history of full employment movements in the United States. How exciting have these last couple of weeks been for you? What has excited you most? Well, it's been, thank you for having me. It's been thrilling to see the reemergence of full employment and guaranteed jobs to its place of prominence within, within the dominant agenda of the Democratic Party. It is a demand that has a long history within, within the Democratic Party from, from the 1940s through through the 1980s but, but really fell out of the Democratic Party's platform in, in the 1980s and grew weaker in the platform and in 1984 and 1988 and you know, I know a number of activists who, who really fought to get it back into the party's platform in 2016. So that, that in and of itself was, was really exciting. And I think to see a senator's of branding and to see, um, senator Sanders and senator, Senator Booker and senator booker all all come out.
Speaker 3:
5:21
Thank you. Um, I'll come out in support of various versions of, of guaranteed jobs I think has really has really pushed it to the front of, of our political agenda. And I think it really can reopen our imaginations about, about what's possible. And so I think, I think that's really exciting and the idea that this is going to be a durable kind of conversation over over the next few years to me is completely a reorientation of where, uh, where we were just a few years ago. Um, I, I started writing this, this project, this, this book that I'm, that I'm in the process of finishing, uh, back in the years after the 2008 recession. And I was part of it. I was, I was puzzled as to why guaranteed jobs weren't emerging as, as, um, a key solution to, to the unemployment crisis that, that so many people were facing. So, uh, so to see it now a decade later, after years of inadequate recovery in terms of how that's how, that's how the recovery has been experienced in everyday people's lives, to me is a real, it's a real exciting moment.
Speaker 3:
6:39
And I think testament to a lot of activism that a lot of people have been, have been doing for over, over this past decade. Yeah. It's interesting that this conversation is starting back up 10 years after, you know, the worst of the financial crisis. What do you think it is? Like what, what had to go away or what had to happen in order for this conversation to be happening now do you think? I think a few things. I think, you know, usually after, um, you know, I think there's a, you know, combination of a number of factors. One, I think the completely inadequate recovery of government jobs at the state municipal level, which, which we've now seen over recent weeks also with, with all the teacher strikes happening. I think that's, that's part of that inadequate recovery over the past decade. Um, I haven't seen the recent stats, but I know as of a little while ago, I think it was something like a million jobs were lost in state and state and municipalities that, that have just never, never kind of never returned.
Speaker 3:
7:49
Um, I certainly, I think, you know, those of us who are in academia and really we really have seen this, uh, very clearly. Um, so that's one element. I think another element is the 2016 election. Um, just like in after, after the 1972 election and the Democratic Party sort of believed that they, they had moved too far left in that election and reoriented begin began reorienting towards, towards the right and especially after the 1980 election, I think the 2016 election, um, alongside the immense energy that was posed, uh, that, that met the Sanders campaign. Uh, I think that's propelled some of these conversations. I also think just the tremendous amount of grassroots activism, um, it's really propelled this conversation. And then I think, uh, at, at the Federal Reserve level, um, or at the level of kind of policy wank, um, conversations around inflation, the inadequate return, um, or the inadequate wage gains that have been made by workers even amidst, um, even in it's relatively low scale unemployment, relatively low unemployment rates, um, over the past few years has really post questions about the extent to which the Phillips curve and, and ideas like that continue to hold and purchase. I believe it was Daniel Tarullo, um, former, uh, former, um, key key powerful actor within, within the Federal Reserve System. Now retired who, who he gave a talk at Brookings a few months ago saying, you know, the Federal Reserve has no coherent theory of inflation. Um, and whereas where as inflationary fears really, uh, really stifled the, the efforts to legislatively win wouldn't guaranteed jobs over over decades. And so I think, um, I think all of those factors are, have, have contributed. So on this podcast we're really interested in,
Speaker 1:
9:54
um, uh, the humanities and what the humanities can bring to, uh, the study of political economy and then specifically to a neo charter lens. And, um, you know, much of this story and the way it's playing out now in the, the big, the big actors are politicians, economists, as you said, policy Wank, certainly, certainly, you know, organizers and activists of, uh, of various stripes. Um, but clearly there's a, a place in a role for us humanness, right? Uh, and um, you in particular, uh, you're not just studying what's going on, your, your participating in your own way. Um, whether it's with fed up or, uh, or, or just on Twitter. Um, um, and I'm, I'm curious if you can speak to your own role in how this is playing out and how, how the study of history and maybe the humanities, um, uh, approach more generally, um, is kind of important for this fight.
Speaker 3:
11:04
Yeah. Well, I think, I think there's a day of a few different answers to that question. One of them is, you know, I'm glad, I'm glad you asked this early on, cause I think, you know, if anyone tunes out or later, I think there's one, I think I, the two key lessons that, that I would say are really important going forward. Um, the first one is that,
Speaker 4:
11:27
huh?
Speaker 3:
11:30
If we think about how this was a key goal of the civil rights movement, one of the most powerful social movements I know of ever took this, that the [inaudible] broke the u s apartheid system. That movement was not strong enough to fully achieve a governmental jobs guarantee. I think if history provides a guide for us, it's that our movements may or will need to be stronger than that, which I think is a really, really daunting task and a humbling task. But I also think from, from having studied social movements that that an appropriate power analysis is a key starting point for any struggle. [inaudible] I think that's one, one lesson. And I think the other key lesson is that in the post 1948 era or so, I can think of about a four year span when winning these sorts of proposals could have been possible. Had the movement's been strong enough. And that's the years 1964 to 1966 and 1976 to 1978. And I think you could make an argument that, you know, had the movements appeared in, in 2008 to 2010 that they might've been legislatively possible. The movements were not anywhere there in, during, during, um, during 2008 to 2010. And so I think what that lesson shows us is that these
Speaker 3:
13:08
openings can appear quickly and they can disappear just as quickly. And we don't know when they're going to return again. And so I think it's really vital. And, and I'm back to the first question. One of the things I've been most excited about right now, um, is that I think, you know, and I hope we're, we're preparing for what might occur that opening that might occur in, in 2020 between 20, 20 and 2022 because, and I think that we need to be, we need to be ready when that opening appears because, because we don't know when it's, when it's gonna appear again. And I think that that's, those to me are the two key lessons that, that history teaches us. And then the third and then sort of subsidiary to those too. Um, and this more goes against some of the, some of the articles and essays that I've been reading, Ted are, uh, eh, a bit ignorant of the history of this demand that, that portray it as a demand so far out of a field are so incompatible with, with, um, prior
Speaker 3:
14:22
pri. We with US history in US policy history is to, to assert that, you know, in the key reason that we don't have this already, or at least it wasn't achieved in 1945 we don't know what would have happened after that and we can't jump too far back into the counterfactuals. But the key reason this wasn't achieved in 1945 was because of Jim Crow and because of the role of Jim Crow power in Congress and, and to a certain it's, it's a similar story in the 1960s, um, no in, in part of the reason that one key reason why job get by, you know, demands for full employment and job guarantees weren't included in the war on poverty was because Johnson knew they could never get through Wilbur mills, his house ways and means committee. Wilbur Mills was considered at the time to be one of the most powerful members of Congress, if not the most powerful member of Congress.
Speaker 3:
15:22
Well, where did Wellborn males come from? He was the longtime congressman from, from Arkansas, from the Jim Crow district. And so, you know, his power was very much linked with, with the kind of daily life of, of a Jim Crow Society. And of course, no one, I mean, look at, you know, all these key dixiecrat congressman, most of them don't leave Congress. Um, by, by way of democracy, they, they leave congress, you know, in nails this case, we a be a scandal in disgrace, um, in, in many other people's case, um, via, via death. You know, that they don't leave Congress a lot of them until the 2000, some in the 90s, some in the 80s, but, but it's not just, it's not like the voting right tax passes and, and these congressman, um, and I say men specifically, um, and these congressman just pack up their briefcases and go home in 1965 they, they continue to win an election after election. And so, so I think, you know, knowing that history can, can also show that although job guarantees were never able to win them, we were never, movements were never, ever to to achieve those goals legislatively. It wasn't because they weren't a dominant moral value, I think. I think guarantee jobs will fall. Employment was a dominant moral value from the 1943 of the 1970s, but they were never able to, to, you know, kind of push though those dixiecrat congressman [inaudible] out of their positions of power in order to, in order to win legislatively.
Speaker 1:
16:58
So a followup to that, um, um, let's say skeptics, uh, we'll often point to them Michael [inaudible], um, now famous article, the political aspects or what is it called, the political obstacles or political aspects of full employment aspects, aspects of full employment. And um, they sort of presume that, that his, his argument is that sure, this is monetarily, economically possible, but it, it may not be in, probably isn't politically possible. And my response to this is, is always, let's be historical about this, right? I mean, Koleski was engaging with this question. He was wrestling with this question at a very particular juncture when we were in a postwar context, full, full employment. The question of full employment haunting everybody, um, very different. Uh, groups were weighing in, had different, different visions for what this might look like. Um, uh, how possible it was going to be or not be. And I guess my question to you, David, is, um, if the political aspects and, or obstacles to full employment, um, are historical, what do you see today? What are the historical conditions which, um, may prove, um, may, may facilitate this, uh, this movement and May, may block it?
Speaker 3:
18:31
It's a really good question. Um, well I think one to me, one of the biggest lessons of history is that one is forced to confront with immense humility what is possible in a given moment and how few people have any few people have any, have any sense of, of, of what that is. But you know, optimistically and, and pessimistically in I, one of the lessons that I really try and teach my students as a lesson that the scholar George sets, um, writes about and his writing has taught to me and he says, you know, very few people in 1859, um, very few abolitionists could have known that, you know, their decades of effort, the self activity of enslaved people, the kind of, you know, resistance of running away of, of breaking one's, um, wrecking one's hose, you know, all sorts of things like that. Um, that those, that, those would see their, um, expression in the self activity of enslaved people amidst the civil war and that enslavement would be, would be abolished, never, never to return.
Speaker 3:
19:50
Um, in, in the United States. Very few people could have envisioned that in 1859. And so to me, I've, one of the things I've been inspired by in my writing, um, about, about full employment movements is that I tried to write as if these movements could and would re-emerge and the second they did in the second they achieved their goals, suddenly the entire history, um, of, of struggling for these goals would look different. You know, that that right this second you can look at the history of struggles for full employment and say it's been 80 years of failure. And then the second that that changes it, that history appears differently. The second guaranteed jobs appear. It's like, wow, it took 80 years of, of robust activism to, to achieve this goal. And I've tried to write with day in, in mind, um, and, and I, and I've thought about it alongside other activists.
Speaker 3:
20:52
So you know, in, in the weeks after, after the march on Washington Byard breast in the lead organizer, the march on Washington is, is giving a speech. Um, and he says things like, we're losing the fight. My friends, he says, well, we're losing quickly. Where are we winning? Uh, and he's, he's very frustrated in that moment. And he doesn't, you know, after three decades of activism, he doesn't know what historians known, which is that the civil rights act in 1964 is right on the horizon. Then the voting rights act is right on the horizon. And so in the weeks after the march on Washington, he doesn't feel this, you know, tremendous welling of success cause he doesn't know what's on the horizon. And so I think we don't know what, what's possible. And so for, for those who are writing, like, you know, fall employment is so difficult because of x, Y, z problem, or x, Y, z thing.
Speaker 3:
21:53
Um, you know, I tell one person writing, you know, what about what about the Fed? And it's like, okay, yeah, that's a key issue that Coretta Scott King and really, really cared about. Um, and I think to me, it's really important to ask that question, but not in a way that's about, um, saying it's impossible and throwing up at tans, but to say like, yeah, I like the Fed, which is a institution that, um, that is created by Congress. Um, it's, it's, you know, uh, relative autonomy, its independence is, is institutionalized in congressional, in, in legislation. And so that would need to be addressed in any legislation, you know, how the Fed would need to, would need to adhere itself to, to, um, an employment mandate to, uh, you know, federal employment mandate for all, at least so far as the u s continues to have a capitalist democracy. Um, and so I think like those are, those are elements to, to struggle over and to work out and to be aware of in, in the writing of the policy. But, but they're not reasons to,
Speaker 4:
23:00
to not struggle for it all not promoted. And now [inaudible]
Speaker 3:
23:41
you brought up credit Scott King already and you know, I was wondering, um, if you could talk about
Speaker 5:
23:47
the relationship between her lifelong activism and this current movement and maybe digging a little bit into, into detail as to the things you were linking to your last comment about the Fed and things like [inaudible].
Speaker 3:
23:59
Yeah. So, so you mentioned it in an earlier question about, about the Fed up campaigns. So, so I, I co-wrote a few months ago, I co-wrote, or maybe almost a year ago, I cowrote a report with, with the economists, Dean Baker on, on behalf of an in collaboration with the center for popular democracy is fed up campaign, which has, which has worked really hard to get the Federal Reserve to be more accountable to everyday people who, whose lives are impacted every day by, by the interest rates they pay on their credit card bills or student loans, um, or her car payments on as well as the general level of the economy. So no, Coretta Scott King was the founder. Um, she co founded and led this group called the Full Employment Action Council and the National Committee for, for full employment. And they were kind of parallel organizations that were slightly separated for tax purposes. Um, but, uh, she, she co-led that, that organization on that coalition starting in the, in the, in 1974.
Speaker 3:
25:05
Um, and the goal was to achieve guarantee jobs legislation and she was well aware, um, as, as anyone was in the 1970s of the high interest rate policies of, of the Fed. And how the Fed needed to adhere to its employment mandate. One of the, there there's debates about, uh, from scholars about where the employment mandate comes from. Um, in fact, I've found recent evidence that that it does indeed go back to the 1946 employment act. Um, but, but the Fed didn't do abide that employment mandate as as strongly as they might have to to say the least. Um, and so it was that it was for that reason that the many scholars trace the, the employment mandate to the 77, 1977 Federal Reserve Reform Act in the 1978 Humphrey Hawkins Act, of which Coretta Scott King was the key activist and Amman and her organization were the key activists, uh, promoting the, the 1978 Humphrey Hawkins Act, which had been around and been drafted throughout throughout the mid 1970s.
Speaker 3:
26:13
And, and they knew that in order to, in order to achieve guaranteed jobs and full employment, they needed the Fed to a seed to, to, to those goals. And so dean Dean Baker and I wrote this report in a sense in trying to remember this history of the Fed's employment mandate and promote the goal of, of the Fed, um, keeping interest rates low, continuing to facilitate economic recovery, um, and continuing to, um, continuing to add here to adhere to the law. And, and so, you know, most people know if people know of the 1978 full employment Humphrey Full Employment Humphrey Hawkins Act at all. It's, it's because, you know, when the Fed comes to Congress twice a year, it's called the Humphrey Hawkins testimony. And this was one of the acts that Credit Scott King and legislators, Augustus Hawkins and Hubert Humphrey tried to create in order to, uh, ensure that the Fed would be accountable to, to those who are democratically elected to, to Congress.
Speaker 3:
27:22
Um, and so, and prior to that, and the reason that's really important is prior to that, you know, in the 1970s, you had a leading economist with the Joint Economic Committee saying they couldn't even get basic data from the Fed. At the time the Fed was, you know, acting as if it was, you know, completely autonomous that their, that their independence was, you know, completely autonomous from, from, um, from Congress. And so, uh, this, this legislation was the attempt to get the Fed to be more accountable to, to Congress and thus more accountable to, to, um, the people of the United States who, whose, um, who were impacted by, by their policies. Um, and you know, in order to fight for that legislation, there's all, all sorts of exciting stories I can, I can tell you about, you know, I think the 1977 full employment action week is really is really inspiring. Where, you know, 1.5 million people took, took all sorts of actions to in order to protest and propel the legislation. There were parades in Erie, Pennsylvania with 40,000 people attending. I think things of that sort that I think are, you know, really on a, on a scale of activism that that is, is quite significant. I guess just talking and said it was the most amazing activism he'd seen since, since the march on Washington of 1963. So, um, that, that can give our audience a sense of just how, how powerful this, there's this effort was
Speaker 5:
28:53
Scott King, you know, argues that we, we've never really dealt honestly with the question of a peacetime economy. And this is something that I've spent a little bit of time thinking about in relationship to the kind of full employment debates of today. And I was wondering how, you know, what you thought about the relationship between World War Two and the mobilization and the job guarantee debates and her activism and kind of how those all go together, um, in this history, especially as you say, if were to really succeed now and really actualize this history, um, for our present moment, um, we need to understand the way these certain strains of, of, um, of contestations kind of interact with full employment and the war itself. So I was wondering if he had any thoughts about that.
Speaker 3:
29:42
Yeah. So I think this is also really important for thinking about some of the contemporary critiques of, of full employment and guarantee jobs. The, the, the people who say, oh, it's too hard and administratively how would it work? You know, it's just way too complicated. Um, and so when we think back to the generation that credit Scott King was a part of, she was born in 1927, um, if you lived through the Great Depression, she saw World War II, um, and they saw just a complete reorientation of the scale and scope of what the federal government could do and that Enlive in their imaginations about what was possible, um, and gave them confidence to, to call for these sorts of bold demands. And so, you know, I was thinking while you're asking your question of a, of a quote from William Lucy, um, who was the a leader, um, and cofounder of the coalition of black trade unionists in the early 1970s and this is a group that coalition of black trade unionists, which as far as I'm aware of no group, um, has fought, has continually promoted full employment and guaranteed jobs as, as long as this group Pat.
Speaker 3:
31:09
So to the extent that like, you know, we people remember, you know, phone appointments out one article that was a fairly good article, but that that was like why full employment is back from the dead, you know, and something along those headlines. And I was like, well, it never died. And the reason it never died was because of people like Bill Lucy, um, and people in the coalition of black trade union s as well as you know, as, as you all are well aware of the kind of post Kantian economic tradition. Um, but, but, so bill Lucy, you know, says quote in, in the early 1970s amidst these full employment movements, this is in 1925. And he says, you know, in the wartime, when they gear up the war machine, everybody fits into a slot. They make welders out of laborers and pipe fitters out of farmers.
Speaker 3:
31:52
And so for him, he saw that and he'd seen that experience. And so he then said, you know, so, so this is why the federal government should now employ people in transportation, construction, and health services and environmental work. Right? So, so they were thinking, you know, dialectically if you will, to say, you know, the military industrial complex and the, and the World War Two efforts showed them what was politically and economically possible. Um, but, but as, as dedicated peace activists like Coretta Scott King was, and I'm like, her husband was, and like many others, um, they saw, you know, well, why don't we reorient these, um, these, these, uh, the spending, um, and, and this energy towards, towards social needs, um, that, that really fulfill, that really fulfill human, human lives. And so I think that that's a key element. And they'd also just seen, you know, we need to remember this as amidst, um, the Vietnam war in, in the years after the Vietnam War, depending on, you know, it's got King's activism continues after, after the Vietnam War.
Speaker 3:
33:02
But, uh, but for her, you know, she saw, okay, we have this economy that's so tied into, um, uh, to, um, to militarism that that has helped propel this war effort. And so as an antiwar activist, it was like, okay, well we need an economy that's geared towards peace and an economy that's geared towards towards social needs. As she puts it. She says, quote, we are going to have to create meaningful jobs, jobs that serve human need. As long as there are people you are going to have certain health needs, healthcare needs, education needs, things that you know, will make for a better quality of living. So, so this is what, this is what she believed in. And she also believed that, um, she says, quote, you know, jobs that go beyond, uh, the profit making motive. Um, so, you know, I been thinking a lot about what the job guarantee could do to, uh, to decarbonize our environment, to, to clean up the environment, of course, to, to end the, the water poisoning of an entire city. Like we, we've just accepted that the, the Flint water crisis is, you know, gonna continue indefinitely and, and it's just, I, I'm, I'm struggling for words to describe, you know, what, how, how we make, um, how, how we wake up every day and we just allow that to continue. And I think yet, yeah, go ahead.
Speaker 1:
34:34
Disconnect between this pervasive, uh, feeling and, and discourse around, around crisis and around needs. Right. We know, we know, uh, w the many, many things that we need that we need to address. And then when we get to some of the job guarantee rhetoric and the job guarantee debate, especially this last week, and suddenly those needs go away, suddenly everything is good enough. Suddenly, uh, it's, you know, the private sector has, you know what, Oh, well the private sector will take care of it. Um, I kind of, I wanted to bring up something that David, you and I have kind of talked about in the past, and I know you're not, um, principally in the aesthetic, uh, theorists or, or a student of visual culture. Um, principally, uh, but I'm curious to have you speak to, um, uh, kind the aesthetics and visual culture around, um, various moments of full employment, uh, struggles, campaigns, fights.
Speaker 1:
35:48
Um, and it seems to me that, uh, questions of certainly race if not also gender, uh, and, and sexuality and of course class Kinda come into, um, play a part in this. Right. And we sort of, I mean, one of the things that I've been, um, extremely frustrated by in contemporary discourse around just employment, right? Especially around like national elections, like pre, pre job guarantee. Um, you know, the job guarantee kind of debates that have been happening very, very recently where we sort of, we, we can only imagine, uh, jobs or, you know, employment politics, uh, through the image of a, of a, you know, a kind of Nixon hard hat. Uh, right. Like a white guy who's gonna, you know, do some tough infrastructure jobs and, you know, sure, we, we want plenty of those. Um, but, um, there's a whole diverse world out there. And I'm curious if you just in your research, maybe even anecdotally, um, could reflect on, um, yeah, the, just the aesthetics of, of, of uh, full employment policies.
Speaker 3:
37:12
It's in the past. Yeah. Um, well I think there's a few things that I'd say to that. Um, I think one, like, like you suggested, we need to reorient our conception of work, um, around, around, you know, there's all these conversations about the future of work, but, um, but there's, you know, a group of people at the Bureau of Labor Statistics who, um, at least a among, you know, a lot of the, you know, Kinda big, big, you know, headline conversations about the future of work that the Bureau of Labor Statistics folks who don't seem to be really consulted in, in that. And I just pulled it up on my computer, what the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out, you know, the fastest growing occupation outlook, um, every few years. And if you look at it, I think it's, it's quite indicative and quite important and can I think reorient, um, our, our ideas around what this looks like.
Speaker 3:
38:11
So, so the number one, um, of fastest growing occupations as says BLS is, is uh, solar panel installers, then wind turbine service technicians, then home health care aides, then personal care aides, then physicians assistants, then nurse practitioners, right? So that's what the future of work at least, uh, at least, you know, according to BLS, according to them, looks like, you know, and if we think about, you know, specially the care work of, of home healthcare aides, personal care aides, physician's assistants, nurse practitioners, these are jobs that historically have been done by women of color, by black women. And to the extent that, that, you know, things like home health care aids, to the extent that those jobs are, are, um, low pay right now, according to BLS, the median pay for home health care aides and personal care needs is, is $27,000 per year. Anyone who knows anything about those jobs knows that those are incredibly difficult jobs, incredibly skilled jobs.
Speaker 3:
39:13
Um, and jobs that require a tremendous amount of, of compassion, of energy, of physical hard work of, you know, lifting, making beds, you know, doing so many different tasks. And so if we ask, you know, why aren't these jobs paid $100,000 a year, why aren't they compensated commensurate to, to the skill that, that, um, that one sees in those jobs? Well, a big part of that is, is goes back to the history of racism and the history of patriarchy, um, in, in, in this country. And so when I think about, you know, what the future of work could look like or does look like, I think about home care aides, um, and how they can be compensated, um, to in ways commensurate with how difficult those jobs are. Um, and, and, and also with, you know, how, how important those jobs are to, to dignified, um, life for, for elderly people.
Speaker 3:
40:12
And, and, and all other people who, who those home health aides and personal care aides are, are helping with their daily, um, daily lives to, to lead, you know, fulfilling, dignified, dignified life. Um, and then I think, you know, there, there's all sorts of other questions if we think back to aesthetics and the WPA and, and art. I think, you know, I, I was just speaking with, um, a friend of mine, uh, who's, I think it's, you know, really, really brilliant inspiring artists and Bissell, who's out of the bay area who, you know, has, who did, you know, and it really extraordinary project, um, a few years ago around, around the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington as well as a number of other real community engaged art, our art projects. Um, and also also as an urban planner. Um, and so he's done a lot of, um, work around, uh, around, um, kind of community art to talk about the housing crisis and, and things, things of that nature.
Speaker 3:
41:14
And I just think about, you know, how many, how many other artists, um, are, are, are out there doing work like Evans that, you know, is not necessarily going to be, you know, compensated by the market. Um, there, there is not a strong market for, um, for, you know, creating beautiful murals that educate, um, a community about their rent control rights. Um, which is the kind of work that that Evan does. Um, and so, um, or about, you know, he did a project with, um, the Morris Justice project out of, out of the city university in New York, um, to organize against broken windows policing in, in, um, in, in New York and, you know, painted these beautiful pictures of in collaboration with, with members of the local community that let's say, you know, we are not broken windows. Um, that showed, you know, what, what the community actually actually looked like.
Speaker 3:
42:16
Um, and so, you know, I think there's, there's not a strong market for that type of, uh, that type of work. Um, and I, and I, you know, always asking you what images of beauty and safety can be proliferated with, with a job guarantee. Of course, you know, as I mentioned a minute ago, if we'd go back to the WPA, you had people writing plays, the federal theater project. Um, you also had, uh, murals. You also had no art workers. You had people writing guidebooks to their cities. People like Zora Neale Hurston and Richard. Right. So I think you know, there, there's, there's so much that people could be, could be doing. Um, that that work that is not worked at the market has, has not
Speaker 6:
43:04
necessarily chosen three.
Speaker 4:
43:10
I got sucked in. Yo, your muscles make me want to shout Hallelujah.
Speaker 6:
43:22
Same [inaudible]
Speaker 4:
43:30
Dan [inaudible], Johnson [inaudible] what's been [inaudible]
Speaker 7:
43:56
exciting about this week, like watching how people are talking about the, the job guarantee is to sort of notice the kind of arguments that have fallen off, um, that were, that were active for like the last 30 years, specifically around the pay for question and the idea of fiscal responsibility in the fiscal constraints. And that's too ambitious. You're going to take our taxpayer money and, and all those sorts of things that seems to sort of have taken a back seat if not disappeared. But we have at the same time these other kind of rhetorical currents or obstacles that are rising up as talk about full employment in a real sense in a federal jobs guarantee. So the rhetoric of work fair, I'm circulating now. And as, as this is happening and thinking about these new rhetorical obstacles that might take the place or take precedent over the fiscal responsibility talk. I wonder if you might say a little bit about the, the sort of rhetorical currents and arguments that were used, um, you know, between 64 and 66 and 76 and 78 when, when you say that the, these movements were most possible, like what, what were the arguments then and what, what were the big rhetorical obstacles put in front of credit? Scott King and others like Byard Rustin and Leon Kaiser Ling and the freedom budget. What,
Speaker 3:
45:17
what were people saying and yeah, well I guess to t to take those. Um, firstly, I, I've been frankly a bit mystified but, but the claim that, that this would be a work fair in the sense that no one, every single person who I know who, who has fought for guaranteed jobs over the past 80 years, you know, was always about expanding the social welfare state, um, through social movement organizing. And, and these are also like most activists, they, they, they thought dialectically so they thought, you know, okay, we win something and then we continue working on it. It's not like we win when a goal and then we'd go home and retire. You know, it's always about, you know, winning something. Usually, you know, for these activists, they demanded 10 things and they won three of them and then they, you know, took, took that list of seven things they didn't win and continued working on it.
Speaker 3:
46:10
So, um, so for them the job guarantee was never was never the end of the road. It was always, you know, okay, well now how does that reorient the political landscape and now how do we keep working towards, um, greater degrees of, of Justice and equality for all people? Um, and then, and then the other thing is that for these activists, um, a job guarantee wasn't the only thing they, they were fighting for. Um, w w one of one of many. Um, and for them a job guarantee wasn't about reducing the social welfare state that currently existed in any way. Um, it was, it was about expanding it and as I said a minute ago, um, and so, and you know, in the 1960s, there were various ways in which the full employment campaigns did and did not, um, work in kind of synchronicity with the welfare rights movement.
Speaker 3:
47:14
Um, some of which had to do with assumptions about male breadwinner ideas and in male work, um, some of which had to do with, you know, a number of, uh, a number of other things that, that are a bit more idiosyncratic. Um, but, but then there's also elements to where this won't surprise anyone who's involved in contemporary activism or who has ever been in contemporary activism was that, at least in Seattle, and I haven't been able to explore this more thoroughly in other, um, in other locales. But at least in Seattle, the people who are meeting around guaranteed jobs and fill employment on say, Wednesday night, were then meeting and organizing around welfare rights on say, you know, Thursday night and Friday night. Right. Which you know, again, but, but they're, but they were like, these organizations are going to be, you know, formally separate. They weren't, they weren't collapsing them.
Speaker 3:
48:18
And of course, no political formation fought against the, the nascent system of workfare, um, more than the national welfare rights organization in the, um, in the, in the mid to late 1960s. And Chris Scott King was strong supporter of the national rights organization and their support of a guaranteed annual income for all, which of course is different than, than a universal basic income. Um, they've been kind of collapsed historically in recent years, but, uh, by, by s I've seen some collapse them, but, but that's very different than what Martin Luther King or credit Scott King or what, or what the national welfare rights organization was fighting for it. They were, they were promoting, um, a guaranteed annual income for everyone who was unable to work for, for whatever reason, due to due to care work responsibilities. Um, and, and they were fighting for dignity for all people, um, whether, whether through a job or through or through guaranteed annual income, but it wasn't a universal basic income that you know, would apply to, you know, everyone.
Speaker 3:
49:27
Um, so, so back to back to your question about what, what was so, so all that's to say that the claim that, that, um, adding a federal jobs guarantee to are otherwise, um, exist in welfare state, that that would somehow be B work fair. Um, has, I, I find it [inaudible] a bit. Um, Mr Fine. I it doesn't, um, there's not one significant, um, supporter of guaranteed jobs, um, that, that I can think of in the past 80 years who would have endorsed that type of proposal. And I can't imagine, you know, very many people, if any, you know, would, would endorse that kind of proposal. Uh, today, uh, you know, this is also, I mentioned Wilbur mills earlier. Um, the, the congressman from Arkansas, he was one of the chief proponents of the, um, work incentive program and, and the types of, you know, kind of early, early workfare that, that was created in the 1960s, um, that, that the national welfare rights organization in the poor people's campaign and credits got king war we're fighting against, um, during, during that era.
Speaker 3:
50:43
So, so not only is the, is the charts that job guarantee advocates would create work fair, um, inaccurate, uh, in, in point of fact, a job guarantee advocates and guaranteed in your income activists, you know, fought against the nascent, the nation nascent system of, uh, of workfare in the 19, in the 1960s. And so, back to your question about what, what some of the arguments against full employment were in the 1960s and then in 1970s, um, 1960s, a lot of the arguments were about, uh, uh, sort of upsetting the balance of payments problems that were going on during, during that period. Um, and by the 1970s, the key, the key argument against it, where would that it would be inflationary? Would it be inflationary? To be honest, I'm probably not the best person that to t to answer that. Um, as, as a, as a historian, I think, um, I think, you know, I, uh,
Speaker 3:
51:48
the, there there's reasons to think it might. Um, I think, you know, uh, as Curtis Guy King said, um, you know, we people, you know, or, or to kind of paraphrase her, you know, the unemployed or not pawns to be sacrificed in some economic chess game. So the cost of, of, you know, a, a bit of inflation is, uh, is the human cost is, you know, the immense unemployment, um, that that is, you know, that hits transgender workers formerly in prison, people, black people like Tino and people, um, the worst, you know, if that's the acceptable cost of, of stabilizing the economy, then, then I think, you know, we, we really need to post critical questions about, uh, about that and who those policies serve and who they don't. Um, and I think, you know, as Daniel to Terello Sat, as I mentioned, the Fed and most economists don't have a coherent theory of inflation. Um, and so, you know, that's where I'm like, well, I trust Daniel Tarullo. You know, he knows more about, uh, about it than I do. And so if he says that the Fed doesn't have a coherent theory of inflation, I don't, I don't see, you know, I don't see how and why you can continue to go on sacrificing
Speaker 3:
53:17
such and such human capacities in human beings lives and, um, to, to this idea that it would be, um, when, when, you know, people like him are not even sure that this idea has, has any purchase any, any longer.
Speaker 7:
53:33
When that definition of full employment was one of the things that, that Curtis Scott King pushed back on. Right. And you've written about this, you know, defining it as, you know, 5% unemployment doesn't quite make sense. Um, so, so zero involuntary unemployment being the preferred definition of full employment for credit. Scott King. Um, how have you seen people, uh, bringing up that, that discussion of w, you know, the rhetorical aspects of full employment recently around this jobs guarantee, these jobs guarantee proposals?
Speaker 3:
54:07
I've seen, I've seen a bit of it. I haven't seen it on, um, my, my colleague, the economist Mark Paul and I've been talking about maybe maybe writing something now that I said that out loud to you all. Maybe maybe we actually have to write it. Um, that, that trace of that and that was a consistent ideological struggle during this period was it was a definition of full employment because you know, as, as the idea of the, um, uh, non accelerating inflation rate of unemployment takes hold, the idea of the nine route takes hold. You know, people keep saying, you know, unemployment full employment equals like you said, you know, 4%, 5%, 6%, uh, and so forth. Um, which really, you know, contrast it to how, what full employment meant say in the 1940s when it became a popular concept as, um, William Beverage, um, who, who really helped popularize the concept, um, says in his book.
Speaker 3:
55:12
So seeing him fall employment means jobs at decent wages where people are located. Um, and, and there that there should always be, you know, more, more vacant jobs than, than unemployed, um, than, uh, he says unemployed men. Um, and I think, you know, uh, we would, uh, we would think of that concept. We would, you know, excise the man in that sentence today, but, but I think, uh, I think that definition, um, is, is really important and to see how, you know, that was what it meant in the 1940s and what, and what does it mean struggled over in, in the 1970s is the, is the definition of it. Um, and, and the definition we've, um, we've inherited is one that was, you know, antagonistic to what beverage and, and many others proposed. And we can even see that if we go by, if you read the, um, congressional, the congressional debates over the 1945 full employment bill, you can see that definition, um, being, being struggled over and you have, you know, leaders of the National Association of manufacturers, you know, um, arguing for the, the sort of definition we, not many of them, many people currently have of it today, that it's, you know, um, whatever, whatever percentage economic policy, um, what, uh, economic policy makers deem appropriate in order to stabilize the inflation.
Speaker 3:
56:39
Right? That's, um, that's obviously not that the tradition, that's not the civil rights tradition of the, of what full employment means. And it strikes me as one of the, one of those phrases or terms
Speaker 7:
56:51
that has, has, has gotten the historical privilege of not having to be defined. And when I talk to students about, or I asked them about, you know, what is full employment? Um, the first thing that comes to mind is not 5% unemployment. It is everybody has a job. Um, and it, what's, you know, what might be salutary about this current resurgence of jobs? Guarantee talk is a re politicization of that idea of what counts as full employment. Yeah. Sorry. Please write that essay.
Speaker 5:
57:22
Um, I wanted to shift gears a little bit, um, to more contemporary and think about, you know, the relationship to the history that you've discussed and the, the fight for full employment. And also, uh, kind of a step beyond that to kind of the contemporary, um, black struggle specifically in the rise of black lives matter over the last decade and, and sort of how your history and what the questions that you're thinking about in your book can, can inform the movement today. Um, and, and the kind of fight for racial justice today and how that kind of can coincide with the job. Gary?
Speaker 3:
58:04
Yeah. Well, I think, you know, I mentioned coalition of black trade unionists. Um, they've continued to promote a job guarantee, um, for, for decades, you know, and, and in other new formations alongside, um, alongside the rise of the black lives matter movement groups like the black youth project 100 have also called for a job guarantee. So I think the, the for up the way I see it is that the black broad black freedom movements, um, have had the longest tradition fighting for guaranteed jobs for all. And a lot of it comes to through the moral values of, of people over profit that, that human beings live are more important than the profit motive and that, and more important than profit, which is a, a durable moral value across black freedom movements. Um, and I think the other way I think about it is I think there, there's multiple sort of streams of welfare state traditions.
Speaker 3:
59:11
I've been thinking about this as I developed my dissertation, um, in collaboration with one of my, one of my advisors and mentors and now friends, the historian Robin d g Kelly. One thing that, that he and I had talked about in the night that I really learned from him is that while many people trace the, the welfare state tradition to Germany and Otto von Bismarck there, there was also, as I've written, a contemporaneous black radical tradition of welfare state, a struggle during, during reconstruction web Dubois called this [inaudible] called this tradition abolition democracy, which was the, uh, the focus on creating new democratic institutions in order to pri provide safety and social provision, um, for, for all people, um, while also seeking to eradicate institutions of, of racial violence and, and, uh, you know, any vestige of, of enslavement. So there was both, there needed to be both a negative abolition of enslavement and a positive abolition, the creation of these new institutions.
Speaker 3:
60:17
And, and I see the kind of moral values of abolition democracy that, you know, in the 1870s might've expressed themselves as calls for things like, you know, land access for, for the formerly enslaved in the 1940s. I really think. And after, I think we really see those expressing themselves or articulating themselves as calls for a job guarantee, um, within, within black freedom movement. And I think we see that tradition continued through, through to today. And it's also part of the, the radical humanism of, of black freedom movements that that's, uh, you know, kind of consistent, consistent, consistent force and throughout, throughout their history. Um, I, I've been teaching, of course, um, on, on women in the black freedom movement over the past few weeks and in this corridor. And we just finished reading Ella Baker's, um, biography by, by Professor Barbara Ransby. And one thing PR professor Ransby notes is that, you know, for, for Baker, she secularized her childhood social values in the Black Baptist tradition and express them throughout her life in the form of radical humanism calls for, for job guarantees and economic justice for all. And so I think, you know, though we can see the expression of, of those types of social moral values throughout, throughout the black freedom movement from, um, in different forms, from, from reconstruction through, through to today. Well, I was thinking,
Speaker 1:
62:02
um, perhaps to conclude, uh, what has been a really rich, um, dialogue, um, we could get you to talk a little bit about in plug your, uh, your,
Speaker 3:
62:16
the cast. So I host a monthly podcast, um, called, who makes sense, a history of capitalism podcast sent to spelled cnts. Uh, you can find us on who makes sense, podcast.com and produce it and, and cohost it with my colleague Betsy Beasley. Um, and you know, we talk about some of these issues, you know, I do a lot less talking, um, on, on that show. Uh, for folks who are listening to this show might be interested in a number of our episodes, you know, episode who we have an episode with Sandy, Brian Hagar on, on public debt in inequality that, that, you know, harmonizes with, with the modern monetary theory, post Keynesian tradition. Um, we also have great episodes with, with Lashawn Harris on black, the history of black women in the informal economy. Um, we have, you know, uh, an episode with Jeff Man on, on, you know, what he describes as a Cain Dean sensibility.
Speaker 3:
63:17
Also important episode with Kim Phillips fine on the fiscal crisis in New York in the 1970s in the rise of austerity, austerity, politics. Um, and one more episode folks might be interested in is, uh, is an episode with the scholar mere burette or on, on banking for lower income Americans. And she talks a bit about some of her ideas about postal banking and, and things like that. Um, and then lastly, I'd just say one more. I know, I know I've given you a lot, but, but folks might be interested in our episode with, with Sarah Jaffe on, on social movements since the 2008 recession. Um, Sarah Jaffe also did it in a really important, she's a journalist who did a really important interview with, with the activist Addie Barkin, um, about, about the jobs guarantee and how it's kinda coming in this moment of, of resurgence. So, uh, Sarah's episode with Addie, might be her, have her own show with Audi.
Speaker 3:
64:15
Might be, might be, um, uh, inspiring for, for folks listening as well as, as well as Sarah's work generally in her book on, in our interview with her about social movements since the 2008 recession. Do you want to say anything about your book project? Any, I mean, we, we've spoken about it generally and I think maybe very specifically at points, but, um, yeah, I think I'd just say that, you know, I'm finishing a book on, on civil rights struggles for, for guaranteed jobs from, um, and how and why those those were stifled. Um, and, and how that, how the kind of stifling of those struggles help facilitate the rise of mass incarceration and that that project goes, or temporal scope was from the 19 1929, the Great Depression to, to 1986 with the passage of the omnibus crime control and safe, oh, I'm sorry. With the anti-drug abuse act of 1986 and, and the tax reform act of 1980
Speaker 2:
65:19
and I'm finishing that up as we speak. Uh, an and it should be out in the next, uh, 18 months or so from University of North Carolina
Speaker 6:
65:27
Press.
Speaker 2:
65:32
It's to keep up with David and as many projects, follow him on Twitter Ed at David P. Stein for more money on the left related content. Follow us on Twitter at, at money on the left and subscribe to our youtube and Vimeo channels, which are each called modern money network humanities division. Special thanks to Alex Williams for producing this podcast and for being one half of hillbilly motorway. He excellent Montreal based drums and electronics duo that hooked us up with our theme song.
Speaker 6:
66:22
[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible].
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