Quotes from the NJFAC Advisory Board

“In Washington it is much easier to blame unemployed workers for their supposed lack of skills than to blame the bankers whose avarice fueled the housing bubble that eventually brought down the financial system and the economy with it. Creating training programs is also easier and cheaper than creating jobs.”
Eileen Appelbaum, “Georgia Works May Work, but It Sure Doesn’t Pay,” Truthout, 9/11

“Congress should focus its attention on raising the minimum wage and creating fair-wage jobs if it really wants to cut the [food stamp] rolls, not on punishing poor people and increasing hunger in America.”
Bill Ayres, letter to NY Times, Sept 24, 2013

“Most Americans believe that there is a law that protects them from being fired for ‘no cause’. But they’re wrong. When entering the workplace, citizens are transformed into employees who leave their rights at the door.”
Elaine Bernard, “Why Unions Matter; Why Full Employment Matters to Unions,” Uncommon Sense 20, NJFAC, adapted from New Party Paper 4:

“In addition to influences on mental disorder, suicide and alcohol abuse and alcoholism, unemployment is also an important risk factor in cardiovascular disease and overall decreases in life expectancy.”
M. Harvey Brenner, “Major Factors in the Prediction of National Life Expectancy: GDP & Unemployment,” Testimony before the US Senate Com. on Environment and Public Works, 6/11

“Much of the current debate about deficits seems to ignore the lessons of the 1930s. Instead, we hear calls to cut the deficit, to reduce government expenditure, to let the private sector flourish. On the whole, this chorus of opinion has its base in the corporate and financial community. But, as in the 1930s, they have been joined by voices from the academic community. The combination of corporate special pleading and academic legitimacy has been irresistible for the Canadian media. The move to deficit reduction has become the conventional wisdom of the day. The correctness of such a policy is projected as being beyond dispute.”
Harold Chorney, “The Deficit: Hysteria and the Current Crsis,” 10/11

“Too often, the effort to end unemployment is perceived as a task for the unemployed. This is identity politics at its worst. Joblessness affects all of us, and there needs to be a collective effort to end economic insecurity and to meet the real needs of our society.”
Noreen Connell, “The Politics of Unemployment,” speech at National Organization for Women program, September, 2012

“A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it. Full-time minimum wage workers earn $10,700 a year, which is about $5,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. This is a moral outrage.”
Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, National Council of Churches News Service, Dec. 2005

“Most conservative economists do not really care about the deficit. They advocate balanced budgets because their real desire is to cut government spending, particularly on the “social programs” they abhor. And that shows up the worst effects of deficit paranoia. It is used to justify depriving the American people of their health care, their education and all of the public investment on which their future depends.”
Robert Eisner, “Why the Debt Isn’t All Bad: Balancing Our Deficit Thinking, “Uncommon Sense 9, NJFAC. Reprinted with permission from The Nation magazine. (c)1995, The Nation Company, Inc

“Social Security is not ‘underfunded.’ It is not, in fact, possible to pre-fund Social Security. Tomorrow’s Social Security will be paid by tomorrow’s workers, out of tomorrow’s national product, according to benefit schedules set by law at that time. Those trust funds are just an accounting device, wipe them out and nothing would happen; today’s surpluses are just as irrelevant, in economic terms, as tomorrow’s deficits. Regressive payroll taxes today buy jet fighters and aircraft carriers. It would not be a bad thing if, twenty years from now, some progressive income taxes were used to pay for pensions.”
James K. Galbraith, “I Don’t Want to Talk About It,” Texas Observer, April 15, 1998

“Let’s begin with capitalism, a word that has gone largely out of fashion. The approved reference now is to the market system. This shift minimizes–indeed, deletes–the role of wealth in the economic and social system. And it sheds the adverse connotation going back to Marx. Instead of the owners of capital or their attendants in control, we have the admirably impersonal role of market forces. It would be hard to think of a change in terminology more in the interest of those to whom money accords power.”
John Kenneth Galbraith, “Free Market Fraud,” The Progressive, January 1999

“In fact, if modern capitalism continues to eliminate as many jobs as it creates — or more jobs than it creates — future recoveries will not only add to the amount of surplus labor but will turn a growing proportion of workers into superfluous ones. What could be done to prevent such a future? America will have to finally get serious about preserving and creating jobs — and on a larger, and more lasting, scale than Roosevelt’s New Deal. Private enterprise and government will have to think in terms of industrial policy, and one that emphasizes labor-intensive economic growth and innovation.”
Herbert J. Gans, “The Age of the Superfluous Worker,” New York Times, November 2011

“In making their case, advocates should emphasize that full employment policies are mandated by the US Constitution and the United Nations Charter, which the United States is committed to uphold. They should also make clear that actions by the US Government and by the Federal Reserve Bank to create involuntary unemployment to fight inflation are violations of international and human rights law.”
David Gil,Full Employment: The ‘Supreme Law of the Land,’ ” Uncommon Sense 6, NJFAC

“The recession is making us sick, the employed as well as the unemployed. For most, losing your job means losing your health insurance. You drop your gym membership if you have one. You delay medical care to save the cost. You eat cheaper, less healthy foods. You roam the streets applying for jobs below your skill level, even part-time jobs at low wages just to bring something home. Your skills deteriorate. Your confidence in yourself, in your future and your country begins to melt away.”
Jerome Grossman, Chair (Emeritus), Council for a Livable World, “Eliminate Unemployment”

“Job creation is expensive, but so is joblessness. The true cost of creating jobs for everyone who wants to work is the difference between the cost of creating the jobs and the costs of unemployment that governments already bear. Creating jobs for all might end up saving taxpayers more money than it costs them.”
Philip Harvey, “Paying for Full Employment,” Uncommon Sense 14 , NJFAC

“I would hope that eventually one of these days we will commit ourselves to a ‘full employment’ economy in which we give the private sector the opportunity to provide the jobs, but if it doesn’t, that we, through government, will develop projects — and there are plenty of them to be developed — that will employ people rather than provide the welfare. Our infrastructure is being depreciated so badly. Half the bridges in this country are unsafe, we have a very bad transportation system, our roads need repairing, and all of this work needs to be done, and yet we have unemployed people. Eventually we have to recognize this problem and do something about it.”
Hon. Augustus F. Hawkins, Tape Number: III, Side Two, pp.112-3, November 18, 1992

“That’s kind of the beauty of the whole thing, that by doing something for people outside of organized labor, we’ve given ourselves a chance to provide a wage floor, a basement level, so to speak. That’s the self-serving side of it. Working the fight for a minimum wage was a good thing.”
Denis M. Hughes, “A Voice for Labor, Deftly Applied,” NY Times, Dec.21, 2004, Metro, p.2

“Instead of proving to be “labor saving devices,” our machines create more work for more of us to do! Instead of the “problem” of leisure, we face an array of problems caused by overwork; families that erode because we have less time to be at home, troubled and troubling young people who share little or no time with adults, anemic communities bled dry of the people’s time, their life’s blood, and institutions that focus solely on teaching people how to work rather than how to live together freely.”
Benjamin Kline Hunnicut, Sr, “The Historical Origins of the Time Famine,” Abstract of a paper presented at the APA/NIOH Interdisciplinary Conference on Work, Stress and Health in Baltimore, March 11-13, 1999.

“It’s a kind of paradoxical thing: on average, people with more education are better paid, and for any individual, it may make sense. And so every parent wants that for their kid, but if you look at the country as a whole, the total percentage of American jobs that require a college degree is between 25 and 30 percent, and no economist thinks it’s going to be more than that any time in our lifetimes. So the idea that if everybody got professional training, everybody would be earning professional wages is totally false.”
Gordon Lafer, The Job Training Charade, Cornell University Press, 2002

“Unless the total number of decent jobs is significantly increased for everybody, millions of white male workers will tend to see affirmative action as the enemy. Progressive political initiatives like affirmative action are always more acceptable when economic opportunities are expanding.”
Manning Marable, Full Employment and Affirmative Action,” Uncommon Sense 7, NJFAC

“In our society, it is murder, psychologically, to deprive a man [sic] of a job or income.  You in substance saying to that man that he has no right to exist.  You are in a real way  depriving him of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, denying in his case the very creed of his society.”
— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967.

“I find that the working poor share values and goals with many middle class Americans: they want their children to succeed where they have faltered; they want to live in safe, secure neighborhoods; they look to the work world as a place in which to find meaning, even in menial jobs. Yet the commonalities with the middle class end at the point where we consider the barriers they face. In periods of high growth, labor market opportunities open up and make it possible for the working poor to become upwardly mobile. But in bad times, the resistance of employers, the consequences of erratic ties to the labor market generated by family demands, and the difficulty of piling up more educational credentials come home to roost.”
Katherine Newman

“… Employment is very much a part of being a citizen…. The case is not that wage labour is so good, or that the meaning of citizenship should be reduced to membership in the workforce. Far from these limitations, the issue is rather that exclusion from the mainstream of economic life cannot even allow for the possibility of developing an inclusive, active citizenry.”
Jocelyn Pixley, Citizenship and Employment, Cambridge University Press, 1993.

“…beyond the amount of money you earn, your job is also crucial for establishing your sense of security and self-worth, your health and safety, your ability to raise a family, and your chances to participate in the life of your community.

“In broader economic and social terms, when an economy operates at a high employment level — i.e., at something approaching full employment — this creates as a matter of course a high level of overall purchasing power in the economy, since people will have more money in their pockets to spend. This means more buoyant markets, greater business opportunities for both small and large firms, and strong incentives for private businesses to increase their level of investment. An economy with an abundance of decent jobs will also promote both individual opportunity and equality, because this kind of economy offers everyone the chance to provide for themselves and their families.”
Robert Pollin, “Is Full Employment Possible Under Globalization?” The Sumner Rosen Memorial Lecture, Columbia University, November 16, 2006

“There are many ‘little Katrina’ disasters across the nation where the poor are ignored and are left out of society. Society deems poverty a stigma but those trapped in poverty don’t have choices, … They cannot move out of the whirlpool of poor education, poor employment opportunities and prevalence of crime in their neighborhoods.” “’Capital punishment’ means those without capital get the punishment.”
Sister Helen Prejean

“Expecting only the unguided market to steadily create good jobs at good wages is like expecting your car to watch your kids. It cannot happen. The common good is irrelevant to the market. Looking after the common good is the job of civil society and democratic government.”

“… the right to a job without a right to a living wage is just as weak as the right to a living wage without a job. Both rights must remain intact and linked together.”

William P. Quigley, Ending Poverty as We Know It: Guaranteeing a Right to a Job at a Living Wage. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003

“It is not enough that someone be ready and willing to work. There should be a job. That monetary policy is now engineered to lift short-term interest rates when the official rate of unemployment sinks much lower than 5.5 percent presents a logical inconsistency with this principle. Democrats should use welfare reform as a way to revive the debate over the best means of assuring “full employment.”
Robert Reich, “Up from Bipartisanship,”The American Prospect, M/J 1997

“FDR never did get the Keynesian thing, and therefore the whole New Deal effort was not big enough,” said Roosevelt, 70. “I mean, it didn’t get us out of the Depression, really, until World War II came along, and then government spending really got big enough to really employ everybody and then some.” “I think Obama has to learn from that* and forget about balancing the budget. …Spend, spend, spend until we’ve done enough to stop this decline.” *”FDR even sparked a new economic downturn in 1937 by attempting to balance the budget.”
Frank Roosevelt, “FDR’s grandson has advice for Obama” Lower Hudson Valley, Gannett 6/10

“Although government job creation programs have at times been considered ‘un-American,’ nothing could be further from the truth. They have a long history in the US and have been enacted periodically, especially when rising unemployment has caused protest. For example, during the Embargo of 1807, a mass meeting of unemployed seamen led New York City to put them to work on projects such as building the new city hall and cleaning and repairing streets. Public works projects were set up by cities during recessions and depressions from the early 1800s through the first few years of the Great Depression of the 1930s. They were primarily developed for white, male heads-of-households, although some sewing projects were set up for women and for men unable to work outdoors.”
Nancy Rose,We Need a WPA for Our Time, Uncommon Sense 16, NJFAC

“The central principle is ‘Decent Work’; it is clear, practical, difficult but achievable. It lays the groundwork for a global economy that will deserve to be called one of the great historic achievements, a renaissance worthy of the highest praise that history and humanity can provide.”
Sumner Rosen, co-founder of the National Jobs for All Coalition, internal paper, 2005.

“The average American now finds it harder to achieve a satisfying standard of living than 25 years ago. Work requires longer hours, jobs are less secure, and pressures to spend more intense. Consumption-induced environmental damage remains pervasive, and we are in the midst of widespread failures of public provision. While the current economic boom has allayed consumers’ fears for the moment, many Americans have long-term worries about their ability to meet basic needs, ensure a decent standard of living for their children, and keep up with an ever-escalating consumption norm.”
Juliet Schor, “The New Politics of Consumption: Why Americans want so much more than they need,” Boston Review, Summer 1999

“I usually mistrust older people’s giving advice to younger, because while often their advice is very good (the values of foresight, temperance, persistence, etc.), they forget that younger people usually know one of the most important things of all: the value of enthusiasm and enjoyment of life…..It’s better to take a job you want at less pay than a job you don’t want for more pay. But you can learn from any job.”
Pete Seeger, “Pete Seeger Talks To Teens,” Seventeen, 11/63

“…Government generosity does not lead to higher rates of poverty, as conservatives in the United States claim. On the contrary, countries with far more generous government programs have significantly lower poverty rates than does the United States, which has both the lowest level of benefits and the highest rates of poverty…. What are the policies that succeed in reducing poverty among families with children? First, all the European countries cited provide a children’s or family allowance…. A second element of the family policy in place in all European countries — and virtually all other industrialized countries as well — is some form of national health insurance or national health service which assures all families and individuals access to health care. Third, some of these countries provide universal, low-cost or free preschool care to all or almost all children from the age of two or three. Fourth, many industrialized countries provide special benefits for divorced families, guaranteeing a minimum amount of child support if the non-custodial parent fails to pay.
Ruth Sidel, Needed: A National Commitment to Families,” Uncommon Sense 17, NJFAC, adapted from Keeping Women and Children Last: America’s War on the Poor, Penguin.

“In large part, these differences [in incomes within any given society] must be attributed to differences in capital ownership, of which the largest part is social capital: knowledge, and participation in kinship and other privileged social relations. In addressing the question of justice, therefore, we are assessing the justice of inheritance of such resources along bloodlines. This is a question of value, not of fact. I personally do not see any moral basis for an inalienable right to inherit resources, or to retain all the resources that one has acquired by means of economic or other activities…..When we compare the poorest with the richest nations, it is hard to conclude that social capital can produce less than about 90 percent of income in wealthy societies like those of the United States or Northwestern Europe. On moral grounds, then, we could argue for a flat income tax of 90 percent to return that wealth to its real owners.

–Herbert Simon, Forum, Boston Review, A Basic Income for All

“In our time, conservative Republicans and Democrats have de-legitimated the very notion of nationally managed social provision, while enacting repeated tax cuts that starve the federal government of the future revenues it will need for Social Security and Medicare, let alone the resources to fund adequate, universal family supports…. The cycle of ever-exacerbated inequality… will not be interrupted by cost-benefit appeals alone. Instead, working men and women assembled in popularly rooted institutions such as churches, trade unions, and translocally linked community groups will have to find a way to forge a new majority movement, calling for family protections for all Americans.”
Theda Skocpol, “The Political Bind,” Boston Review, Feb/Mar 2002

“A major national jobs program would require affirmative action for those living in depressed communities, but it need not be limited to the very poor. It should be open to a broad spectrum of Americans — such as the working-class men and women in the Midwest who lost good factory jobs and now eke out a living at Wal-Mart.”
Frank Stricker, “Help Wanted: Too Many Workers, Not Enough Jobs,” Commonweal, October 24, 2008

“They [a Queens public housing project] used to have a higher mortality rate over there. I’d like to think we had something to do with lowering it by offering the young people employment.”
Mark di Suvero, quoted in New York Times, May 14, 1995 about his firm, Space-Time CC, Inc. and the adjoining Socrates Sculpture Park

“It’s way past time for Americans to take whatever actions are necessary to make the needs of workers and their jobs central priorities for our economy.”
Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO, America@Work, April/May 2002

“… In the 50’s and 60’s the working class through collective bargaining achieved middle class — with one bread winner. The strikes in the 50’s won pensions and health care benefits. That’s history, but there was a time when working class was middle class, but still working class.” Working Class Studies List, 3/05

“It is a basic principle of fairness that the burden of policies that are necessary for society — like protecting the earth’s climate — shouldn’t be borne by a small minority who happen to be victimized by their side effects. Unless workers and communities are protected against the unintended effects of climate protection, there is likely to be a backlash that threatens the whole effort to save the planet.”

Joe Uehlein, “Will Workers Be Left Behind in a Green Transition?”

“I define genuine full employment as a situation where there are at least as many job openings as there are persons seeking employment, probably calling for a rate of unemployment, as currently measured, of between 1 and 2 percent.” Also see his Fifteen Fatal Fallacies of Financial Fundamentalism”
William Vickrey, Presidential Address, American Economic Association, January 6, 1993. Adapted for Challenge, M/A 1993.

“The sheer power of corporate capital… makes it difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic society would look like (or how it would operate) if there were publicly accountable mechanisms that alleviated the vast disparities in resources, wealth, and income owing in part to the vast influence of big business on the U.S. government and its legal institutions.”
Cornel West, “The Role of Law in Progressive Politics,” Politics of Law, David Kairys (Ed.), 1990

“Public policies are needed to encourage firms to compete on the basis of innovation, product quality and the development of new markets rather than by downsizing, outsourcing, moving operations overseas, and reducing worker wages and benefits. We must devise incentives for employee participation in business decisions and for compensation systems that share a firm’s prosperity with workers…. We must find ways of making corporate management more accountable to the communities and workers that depend on their firms. International regulation of corporate conduct should supplement national system of corporate regulation.”
Charles J. Whalen, “High Anxiety: Economic Insecurity and Jobs for All,” Uncommon Sense 11, NJFAC

“Neighborhoods plagued by high levels of joblessness are more likely to experience low levels of social organization: the two go hand in hand. High rates of joblessness trigger other neighborhood problems that undermine social organization, ranging from crime, gang violence, and drug trafficking to family breakups and problems in the organization of family life.”
William Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor, p. 21, Knopf, 1996

“We need to organize together for jobs for all, a living wage for all, and social and economic justice for all. We need to redirect resources from war and the military and instead promote peace and economic sustainability.”
Kent Wong, Good Jobs for All Newsletter, Summer, 2004

Quotes from history:
“…where there is no work there is no dignity,Pope Francis said to a meeting of unemployed workers in Sardinia, urging them “to fight for work.”9/13

“The only way to keep the Government out of the red is to keep the people out of the red. And so we had to balance the budget of the American people before we could balance the budget of the national Government.”
FDR, Address at Forbes Field, October 1, 1936. Thanks to the Roosevelt Institute

“If we speak of democracy, we do not mean a democracy which maintains the right to vote but forgets the right to work and the right to live. If we speak of freedom, we do not mean rugged individualism which excludes social organization and economic planning. If we speak of equality, we do not mean a political equality nullified by social and economic privilege. If we speak of economic reconstruction, we think less of maximum production (though this too will be required) than of equitable distribution.”
Times of London
, 1940, a few weeks after removal of British Expeditionary Forces from the Continent of Europe when Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany.

“In the United States I believe there is general agreement that for widespread and extended unemployment useful work at adequate wages on worthwhile public projects is a far better answer than either unemployment benefits or relief. As a general rule, income earned by useful work is better than jobless compensation, however generous. Benefits for the idle are no real solution of the unemployment problem. Regular employment and full employment must be our goal.”
Elizabeth Brandeis Raushenbush, Professor, University of Wisconsin, Department of Economics and a specialist on unemployment insurance programs, Social Service Review, December 1946

“… in the economy of the future, the only true national deficit will be labor unemployed.” William Beveridge, 1944. Report on Full Employment in a Free Society, London: Allen and Unwin

“If we deny our people that right [the right to work], we have denied them everything. If we fail them in preserving that right, we have failed them in everything.”
— New York Senator Robert F. Wagner, December 11, 1930 speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

“We may as well determine right here and now that we are going to wage relentless war until we abolish involuntary idleness as surely as we abolished involuntary servitude.”
— Senator Robert F. Wagner, Spring 1928, prior to Stock Market Crash