Reich: Government Should Spend Even More
Unemployment will almost certainly in double-digits next year — and may remain there for some time. And for every person who shows up as unemployed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey, you can bet there’s another either too discouraged to look for work or working part time who’d rather have a full-time job or else taking home less pay than before (I’m in the last category, now that the University of California has instituted pay cuts). And there’s yet another person who’s more fearful that he or she will be next to lose a job.
His solution will shock no one:
Which brings us to the obvious question: Who’s going to buy the stuff we make or the services we provide, and therefore bring jobs back? There’s only one buyer left: The government.
Let me say this as clearly and forcefully as I can: The federal government should be spending even more than it already is on roads and bridges and schools and parks and everything else we need. It should make up for cutbacks at the state level, and then some. This is the only way to put Americans back to work. We did it during the Depression. It was called the WPA.
Even aside from the “Who’s going to pay for all this?” issue — which he explores in great detail in the rest of his post — there’s the question of efficacy. This ain’t 1933. Most of those hit by the current decline were in service industries — including those requiring rather substantial education and training — rather than unskilled laborers. Surely, Reich and his follow UCal professors who have suffered salary cuts aren’t going to supplement their income by repairing bridges or cleaning up parks?
No worries, though. In a few years, the Japs will bomb Pearl Harbor again, which will require a massive investment in our defense infrastructure. That’ll be just the boost we need.