Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect
It is the great contribution of Pollin… to restore full employment to its rightful place in public discourse. In a very readable work of just 161 pages, Pollin covers the history, economics, and politics of the issue, and proposes an entirely persuasive program for getting there. He means his title in both senses—back to a full-employment economy and back to this cornerstone of progressive politics.
Pollin’s proposed program to achieve full employment includes familiar essentials, but ingenious new specifics. It includes more effective controls on finance, industrial policies to promote new green industries, a major new program of public investment, and a shift in the composition of public spending. The labor intensity of green energy, he demonstrates, is far more conducive to job creation than that of, say, Pentagon spending or reliance on a petroleum-based economy. A shift of $330 billion in public outlay to more job-friendly uses could create 4.8 million new jobs without increasing the public deficit.
All of this flies in the face of today’s conventional wisdom, and is far more muscular than policies embraced by most liberals. But wisdom it is, and the book deserves a broad hearing. Today’s economy is so anemic that nothing less than a new commitment to full employment will get us out of the ditch dug by a generation of neo-liberalism. Pollin’s achievement is to demonstrate that the economics work. The politics, as always, are harder.
From Naked Keynesianism:
Robert Pollin has written a short and very important book titled as this post. Bob is correct in pointing out that the main obstacle to full employment has been political, and that there is no technical reason why we are not pursuing policies that would produce lower levels of unemployment.
Casting aside the assumptions of the failed neo-liberal model, Robert Pollin explains the centrality of full employment to a decent society and provides nothing short of a blueprint to achieve it. Pollin lights the way forward with a roadmap for a sustainable economy for generations to come and poses the burning question, “If not now, when?” Intelligent, inspirational, and—a rarity among economic writings–accessible for all those seeking passage out of the ‘austerity trap’ delusion.”
Recovering a low unemployment rate after the financial crisis is essential; keeping it low in the long run is crucial for the economy. Robert Pollin’s book gives the background you need to understand the problems, and outlines the policies needed to achieve these goals. Essential reading for everyone pursuing an egalitarian, democratic economic system.
In this powerful and persuasive work, Robert Pollin shows why full employment should be both a progressive priority and a national one. I honestly wish I could make every last lawmaker in Washington read this book.
Pollin is that rare policy wonk who combines stellar analysis with activism for social change. He’s animated by the same ethical imperative that has inspired so many nurses who, heartsick over patients with suffering caused by economic pain, have taken to the streets and demand real reform.
So too is Pollin unwilling ethically to accept the status quo or political norms of high unemployment, with his analysis and prescription for action on full display in a concise new volume titled “Back to Full Employment…”
The value of Pollin’s book is that it guides policymakers toward nudging the unemployment level down to around 4 percent, which was achieved at the end of the Clinton presidency and ought to be achievable again in the near future without any radical measures. The book demonstrates how much policymakers are leaving off the table, how even relatively small changes can accomplish the desired objective.