Sunday, June 5, 2011

How To Repeal Unemployment

In an article that appeared during the Great Depression of the 1930s in a magazine called The Unemployed, a U.S. left activist named James H. Maurer indicated that unemployment in the United States might be eliminated during endless economic U.S. capitalist economic recessions (like the current one) in the following way:

"Unemployment has become a law, the regular order of things in the United States. Unemployment hit the country hard in 1873 and stayed until 1879; it came back again from 1893 to 1896; it threw millions out of work again in 1908...

"...The plague swept through the states again in 1914, and again in 1921.

"Now the law is working again, more deadly, more devastating than ever before...

"Anything that happens so often must be a law. It's not written down in any law books. But it is the unwritten law of American capitalism. Capitalism is the name of the industrial system we live under. The capitalist system is a profit system. The only reason it operates is to make profit for the owners of industry, the owners of natural resources and the bankers...

"Can this capitalist system right itself? It can not. Just so long as industry is run for profit--just so long will we have unemployment. The owners of industry...produce for profit...In their mad fight for profits, they keep wages down as far as they can. Workers everywhere can not themselves buy back what they themselves have made. Their wages are not high enough.

"What is the result? The result is `Overproduction'--or more goods produced by the workers than the capitalists can sell at a profit; or `Underconsumption'--which means the workers--the same ones who `overproduced'--can't buy back the food, clothing and shelter, necessary for life.

"We do not have to put up with the law of unemployment. We don't have to put up with any law once we get a majority of the people who want to change it...

"How would we repeal unemployment?

"1. First we would repeal unemployment by ending the profit system...Profit would be abolished. The people would own industry. It would be stupid of them to want to make the profit from themselves.

"2. Second, we would repeal unemployment by planning production to meet the needs of the people...

"Where would the government get the money to feed the hungry, to start up public works and to buy out industry?...The root of our trouble today is that a small group of people own the vast industries and resources that all the people need. We would transfer this property back to the people by taxation--by heavy taxes on those who can stand it; by heavy income taxes; and by even heavier inheritance taxes.

"Never mind the cries of big business against taxation. We have paid tribute long enough to big business...

"It's more important to keep unemployment down, than it is to keep taxation down..."

In that same magazine, a U.S. left writer named John M. Work also observed:

"All of the workers could be employed even under capitalism if the hours of labor were short enough. The working time has been greatly reduced...but the owners see to it that it not reduced proportionately with the increased productivity of the workers (due to ever-expanding machinery. The owners frustsrate all attemptes to reduce the working days and weeks to the point where all will be employed. They do this because if they were to permit all the workers to be employed, their `industrial reserve army' of unemployed would disappear, and they would no longer have jobless workers to under-bid those employed and keep wages down.

"There is, however, one way in which the hours of labor can be rreduced until every willing worker, man or woman, will be employed.

"By changing the owners from private to public.

"Let the people own the industries themselves. That is, let them have the collective ownership of the industries. Then the industries will be run for service, not for profit. It will no longer be to the financial interest of the owners to prevent the working time from being reduced to the point where all will be employed. The working time will in fact be reduced to that point, and every willing worker will be guaranteed a job..."

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