The Barriers to Full Employment are Political, Not Economic
By Malcolm Sawyer
In “Political Aspects of Full Employment,” a still widely cited article from 1943, Michal Kalecki raised many questions about the ability of a capitalist economy to maintain prolonged full employment — even though in light of the understanding of tools for stimulating aggregate demand and the use of fiscal policy brought about by the Keynesian ‘revolution.’ In a series of papers, Kalecki showed that the arguments against the use of budget deficits to secure full employment were invalid. Among these arguments, and their rebuttals, were that:
- deficits add to government debt, which is a burden on future generations (rather, the government debt is bonds owned by individuals, pension funds etc.);
- deficits crowd out investment (rather, they allow savings to take place and enable investment); and
- deficits cause higher interest rates (the current situation makes the rebuttal to this clear).
Yet those arguments are still trotted out.
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