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A Debate on Back To Full Employment, Round Two:
Robert Pollin and Phillip Harvey

by Robert Pollin and Phillip Harvey

Last December, I posted a very thoughtful set of critiques of my book Back to Full Employment by Phillip Harvey, a Professor of Law and Economics at Rutgers University. I posted my responses to Phil then along with his comments.

Last month, Phil sent me a long set of responses—running to over 6,000 words—to my initial replies to him. I appreciate Phil’s interest and commitment around this issue. We are therefore posting his comments in full below. At the same time, after giving lots of thought to what he had written in this second go-round, I don’t think there is too much more to be gained through me responding to all of his points in full, as I did in the previous round. The main reason is that my responses this time would be basically the same as what I already wrote back in December.

I therefore think it would be most constructive for me to simply highlight what I see as Phil’s main critiques of my approach and to restate my position. That should then provide some context for interested readers to go through Phil’s comments in full. Here, therefore, is what I see as the main areas of contention:


A Debate on Back to Full Employment

by Robert Pollin and Phillip Harvey

What Is Full Employment? How Do We Get There? How Do We Stay There?

Phillip Harvey
Professor of Law and Economics
Rutgers School of Law, Camden

Dear Bob,

Having read your recent book on full employment, I thought you might find some papers of mine interesting. Cutting to the chase, I don’t think you’ve delivered what you promised in the book’s title and introductory chapter. You provide neither a clear definition of full employment nor a strategy for achieving it. I think you acknowledge as much in chapter 5 where, notwithstanding the chapter’s title, you outline a strategy for achieving what you refer to as “near full employment” or “approximate full employment” rather than actual full employment.


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