Planning and Paying for Full Employment

By Frank D. Graham; Abba P. Lerner | Go to book overview

TOWARD A FULL EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM: A SURVEY

By ALBERT HALASI


I. AGREEMENT ON PRINCIPLES

THE papers which follow should not be as attempts to state the underlying causes of business fluctuations or of a permanent tendency toward future unemployment (due to the probability of chronic oversaving), although references to the problem will be found in many of them.

This is not an omission or the admission of inability to reach agreement, but the result of an apparent conviction on the part of our contributors that remedies can be devised with only a limited conception of the causes of the disease.

In devising an employment program, it is enough to know that, in order to obtain full employment, the rate of total national spending must be sufficient to take off the market all the goods and services that can be made available when the population is fully employed. If the rate of spending remains below this level, economic depression and unemployment ensues; if it goes higher, we face inflation.

With millions of citizens and business firms making free decisions about how much of their incomes to spend or save, there is no guarantee that we will obtain exactly the rate of total spending which is required for full employment. Therefore deliberate policies are necessary to keep the rate of spending at that level, or, if that is not possible, to compensate for its deviations from that level. It is possible to devise such policies, however one interprets the causes which make people spend more or less.

It is always helpful, of course, to recognize the immediate cause of an actual depression or inflation in relation to the circumstances in which they occur. The facts should be carefully scrutinized so that "spot remedies" can be applied whenever it is possible and desirable especially with a view to reducing "frictional" or "transitional" unemployment or "inferior" employment, strongly stressed in Miss Joseph's paper. However, there are general remedies which will cure the disease regardless of its causes. What is called in medicine a

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