Planning and Paying for Full Employment

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

FEDERAL TAX REFORM

By HENRY SIMONS


I

ORDERLY economic progress, with large and stable employment, requires (1) freer trade, domestic and international, and (2) monetary stabilization. Freer trade requires, besides tariff reform and a vigorous anti-trust policy, a great variety of measures, of which the more promising (e.g., development of reliable grading of consumer goods) are indirect and undramatic. We must find means for limiting the special privileges of both organized enterprises and organized workers that insulate themselves from effective competition. New and moderate-sized enterprises must be offered reasonable access to markets, to capital, and to industrial technology. The artificial (i.e., merely private) "economies" of great industrial size, in advertising and marketing, in differential access to knowledge (patents, know-how, industrial research) and to investment funds, etc., must be diminished. Restrictions, by inordinately high wage-rates and otherwise, upon occupation migration into the more remunerative and expansible trades and industries must be mitigated. Tax reform can do something to promote venturesome investment and competitive new enterprise, but can make no decisive contribution toward freer markets.

Monetary-fiscal policy should aim, not at adequate or stable employment directly, but at a stable price level. It should seek not to create a large and steadily rising national income by its own devices alone, but rather to sustain the requisite favorable monetary conditions or expectations and, above all, to minimize monetary uncertainty. It should focus upon a more proximate objective than "full" employment. If, having started from a satisfactory initial level, monetary stability does not yield continuously large employment, that situation should be dealt with, not by additional monetary stimulation (or, what is the same thing, by more public investment), but by efforts to create freer markets for goods and services (including

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