Job Creation Proposal from 1973

by Chris Sturr | February 25, 2009

From Bob Feldman:

Perlo’s 1973 Alternative Jobs Creation Proposal Revisited

Most hip anti-war people in the United States (and most long-time readers of Dollars & Sense) probably realize by now that the U.S. government’s recently passed “economic stimulus” legislation won’t really create enough high-wage jobs for U.S. workers to really restore economic prosperity for most U.S. working-class people; or quickly stop the rapid rise in long-term unemployment rates for U.S. blue-collar and office workers.

Yet until anti-war left dissidents in the United States are able to quickly present some kind of anti-militarist alternative left jobs creation program for U.S. working-class people to mobilize in support of on the U.S. streets, the suffering of U.S. working-class people in the current U.S. historical “era of permanent war abroad and economic depression at home” will probably continue to increase–until there’s finally some kind of upturn in U.S. capitalism’s business cycle.

In a 1973 book, The Unstable Economy: Booms and Recessions In The U.S. Since 1945 (International Publishers), a Marxist economist named Victor Perlo indicated what an anti-war alternative left jobs creation program for the U.S. economy might look like by proposing the following:

“Nationalization and government operation of major economic units are essential for overcoming monopoly domination of the economy to the extent necessary for realizing significant progressive reforms.

“Plants abandoned by private owners, or left with substantially curtailed operations, are prime targets for nationalization. Conspicuous in this respect are enterprises in the aerospace and other armament-connected industries, whose private owners have proved unwilling or unable to shift to civilian production. Also there has been large-scale phasing out of electornic plants, as multinational corporations have shifted output to foreign lands. There continues a constant flow of industrial enterprises from urban areas, where workers are organized into relatively strong unions, into rural areas, and especially to open-shop southern areas offering special tax concessions and a prospect of low wages and no resistance to inferior working conditions.

“The government should take over all such plants, fully maintain employment, and charge the corporation with all transitional costs.

“It should take over munitions plants generally, thereby weakening the economic base of the notorious `military-industrial complex.’

“The transportation system should be nationalized…The entire system should be made into an integrated public system for freight and passengers, covering all modes of transportation, with lowered fares and rates, greatly increased and improved service.

“The telephone system and other `public utilities’ should be made really public, to end the superhigh charges and corresponding private profits now guaranteed by business-dominated regulating commissions.

“Along with a system of socialized medicine, available without charge to all, there should be nationalization of the drug industry, hospitals, and related industries.

“The construction of new housing should be nationalized. That is the only way to build quickly the tens of millions of units needed to decently house America at rents the illl-housed can afford, with adequate employment opportunites for Black and other minority workers…

“Nationalization of industry should not be like that of the `public authorities’ and some quasi-government corporations run by boards of directors and managers from the officialdom of the private big corporations and banks, for the profit of these enterprises rather than service to the public.

“Democratic nationalization is required, involving direct, major participation by the workers of the nationalized enterprises in their management, and a real voice for the users of the services. It calls for boards of directors to be elected directly by the voters and by the enterprise workers…

“Aa whole series of measures would be directed towards cutting unemployment…A major element in the fight against unemployment is to win a shorter work week and the elimination of overtime. This, of course, would directly add millions of jobs…

“…The demand has become popular among workers for continuation of unemployment insurance for the full term of unemployment. This should be accompanied by expanding coverage to all workers, minimizing the waiting periods, ending the exclusion of strikers and other categories of workers, and ending the humiliating compensation offices with their pressure on the client to take sub-standard jobs at sub-standard pay.

“A uniform Federal system should be substituted for the state systems, and the payments should be financed out of general revenues.

“Every enterprise, private and public, should be required to employ Black and other minority workers at least in proportion to their numbers in the area’s population at each occupational level, including the highest managerial and professional levels…

“All Government support for and privileges granted to existing foreign investments would be ended. New private corporate foreign investments would be completely prohibited or sharply curtailed. This would encourage economic growth in the United States, by making it not longer possible for big corporations to give priority to overseas operations while cutting back at home…”

–b.f.

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