Why No Right To A Job?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Note: See also Isaiah Poole’s We Need An Unemployed People’s Campaign
Why don’t we all have a right to a job? Who is our country and our economy for? The first three words of our Constitution provide us with a hint: “We, the People.”
There are millions of people out of work and millions of jobs that need doing. The jobs that need doing pay for themselves because they make our economy more competitive, like modernizing our infrastructure and improving the energy efficiency of buildings.
Millions Of People Out Of Work
Here is The Chart (from Calculated Risk.)
EmploymentPercentLossesAlignDec2010
The following two charts are from this analysis. They are unemployed over 26 weeks and part time for economic reasons (underemployed)
UnemployedOver26WeeksDec2010 PartTimeDec2010
Millions Of Jobs That Need Doing
Since the Reagan-era tax cuts caused us to defer maintaining out infrastructure we have fallen behind much of the world in economic competitiveness. Modernizing ports, roads, rail, airports, Internet, wireless, water, sewer, schools… Retrofitting buildings and homes to be energy efficient would save us from buying so much oil from the Middle East. So would building wind, solar, electric car charging stations, efficient power grids, etc.
Meanwhile our economic competitors, countries like China and Germany and India, have been investing in their people and building modern infrastructure like crazy. Other countries are investing, educating, improving public services because they know these things make the economy explode later, paying dividends for decades.
The Right To A Job
Robert Borosage wrote this week about the 67th anniversary of FDR’s Second Bill of Rights,

How does America dig out of the hole we are in? Surely the focus must be on first principles: how do we recreate an economy that works for working people? With the right talking about a return to the principles of the Constitution, it is worth remembering how Americans thought about first principles coming out of the last great economic calamity.

Among the rights FDR proposed: “The right to a useful and remunerative job…”

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“If a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists.”


“If a man doesn’t have a job or an income he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness, he merely exists.” “All labor has dignity.” “It is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages.” “… bridge the gulf between the haves and the have nots .. we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty.”
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