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The Full Employment Approach to Reducing Black Poverty and Unemployment in the United States
(Draft - Comments Welcome)
Working Paper No. 7
Mar 2000
Mathew Forstater (info)

"Herein lies buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line."

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

The racially coded terminology of the behavioralist paradigm centering on the notion of the (Black) "underclass" has achieved hegemony in the last two decades of the twentieth century, constituting the ultimate failure of the United States to face up to the challenge posed by W. E. B. Du Bois (1903) one hundred years ago. As John Hope Franklin (1994) recently observed, since by no measure could America be said to have effectively addressed the problem, it remains the problem of the twenty-first century. Residential segregation has been documented to constitute what Massey and Denton (1993) have dubbed "American Apartheid"; Kozol (1991) has described with equal accuracy the "savage inequalities" of educational opportunities; racial discrimination persists in housing and credit markets (Dymski); the Black unemployment rate remains stuck at twice that of whites; African Americans are crowded into the low-wage, no or little benefits, no or little job security sectors (Boston, 1988; Darity and Myers, 1998); Black men, especially young black men, are crowded in the prison system; welfare roles are reduced without accounting for all those who leave; lack of adequate, affordable day care remains a problem. Drugs, homicide, violence, family disruption and dislocation pervade the neighborhoods where Black children grow up. Income inequality is severe, but an even more desperate picture emerges from Oliver and Shapiro’s recent (1997) documentation of wealth inequality by race. The so-called Clinton expansion has left some behind, indeed, including a segment of the population described by Darity, et al. (1994) as the "unwanted" and termed by the behavioralist paradigm the black "underclass" -- inner city blacks detached from the labor force and the world of legal work, with little training and poor education, living in neighborhoods rife with crime, drugs, and violence.

Critically examining the plight and blight of black poverty and unemployment and their consequences in the United States at the turn of the century can be a demoralizing exercise that can easily lead to nihilism unless we are armed with an alternative, stubborn and committed Vision immunizing ourselves from such defeatism, replacing it with both careful, principled analysis and imaginative positive policy rooted in collective community praxis. Following Darity, et al. (1994) and others, I want to call this analytical alternative to behavioralism, structuralism, and following Marable (1997) and others I want to call the alternative Vision, Multicultural Democracy. On the analytical front, the task is that of making the necessary distinctions -- of discernment -- between for example, draconian workfare and dignified public service employment. With regards to Vision, the challenge is to craft and put forward a powerful Vision around which coalitions can be formed and popular support garnered that can stand up to the media and think tank supported ideological banner justifying institutionalization and genocide. For as Hadjor (1995) has rightly observed, American liberalism has "suffered something of an inner moral collapse," conceding ground to their conservative opposition and even adopting much of their views on these issues. Thus there has been no effective alternative to blaming the victims, the behavioralist paradigm, the dismantling of the welfare state, and the solidification of the desperate situation of the poor Black community.

The very first order of business must be a resounding rejection of the behavioralist paradigm. The behavioralist model roots Black poverty and unemployment -- the origins of the so-called Black "underclass" -- in "pathological" attitudes and behaviors and "dysfunctional" values and norms. The behavioralist approach is part of what Schram (1995) calls the economistic-therapeutic-managerial (ETM) discourse that "imputes to the poor the identity of self-interested, utility maximizing individuals who need to be given the right incentives," or what Boston (1988) calls simply the "conservative gospel," and which is nothing more than the old "culture-of-poverty" thesis, and going back further, the ideological basis of the poor laws and approach to unemployment and public relief documented so well by Piven and Cloward (1971) in their classic work, Regulating the Poor, which rests on the distinction between the "deserving" and the "undeserving" poor.

According to the behavioralist paradigm, the causes of Black poverty and unemployment, and associated characteristics of the so-called Black "underclass" -- crime, violence, drugs, detachment from the labor force and the world of legal work, disintegration of the family (in social and welfare policy analysis, such disintegration of the Black family means female-headed households) -- these are caused by "deficient" values and attitudes that translate into dysfunctional behaviors reinforced and reproduced by perverse incentives of the welfare state -- primarily income support leading to "dependency" and destroying incentives to take what are euphemistically called "entry-level" positions. The policy approach that follows is reduction and elimination of income support programs for the "undeserving" poor -- those who "reveal" their "preferences" for poverty and marginal attachment to or detachment from the labor force, crime, violence, and anti-social norms at odds with the American "ethic" -- laziness, sexual promiscuity, inability to defer gratification, and so on. Liberals have for the most part either jumped on the bandwagon or perhaps held on to the traditional liberal view once exemplified by Moynihan and presently associated with William J. Wilson -- that there are structural factors that led to these values and behaviors -- the legacy of discrimination, macrostructural changes -- and policies have reinforced them, so that there is little difference between the hegemonic liberal view and those conservatives who have abandoned the biological explanations of Black poverty for the "culturalogical" paradigm.

It is well-known that empirical testing of human capital theory failed to confirm the view that racial earnings inequality, much less employment, could be explained by differences in productivity (see, e.g., Darity, 1982). The revival of the culture-of-poverty view attempted to avoid recourse to discrimination by putting forward the thesis that the "unexplained residual" was not accounted for by discrimination but by "culture" -- culture becomes a missing form of human capital: there are cultural differences between racial and ethnic groups and these differences have economic consequences (Sowell, 1983) -- consequences such as lower Black wage rates and higher Black unemployment rates. "Culture" here is a word that is used to describe unobservable values and attitudes -- "dysfunctional" behavior is viewed as automatically corresponding to specific, identifiable moral or other value "deficiencies." Values and behaviors are assumed to have a one-to-one correspondence, highly problematic for two reasons, right from the start. First, from observed "dysfunctional" behaviors a corresponding value is then assumed, which is then used to explain the behavior; this is circular reasoning. Furthermore, there is no one-to-one correspondence between values or attitudes and behaviors. The same value can result in different, even diametrically opposed behaviors; the flip-side of this is that more than one value or motivation can result in the same behavior.

The behavioralist approach relies on a grand old tradition of the last few hundred years: the double-standard. The so-called dysfunctional values and behaviors are in no way unique to the Black poor, but are found in every segment and class, with some obvious differences, e.g., criminal opportunities are different for the rich than the poor, less lucrative crimes are more attractive to those with lower incomes, etc., but most importantly, the ability to deal with, e.g., the stresses that accompany family life, change with one’s material circumstances. A child growing up in a female-headed household that is affluent will have more resources to support taking advantage of educational opportunities than a child from a similar family but that is living at or below the poverty line. When we factor in that the educational resources and social support systems available to the affluent are so much greater than those available to the poor -- Kozol’s "savage inequalities" -- it is easy to see that different "values" and "attitudes" do not play a primary causal role, but rather the primary factor distinguishing life opportunities and therefore life outcomes, attainments, and achievements have to do with material resources and the social support systems that come along with residing in a community with more material resources and social support systems, and therefore more life opportunities generally.

The behavioralist paradigm is nothing other than the old 18th century and 19th century social and welfare policy rooted in the individualist paradigm -- everyone gets what they deserve; perverse values and attitudes result in being poor; hard work, thriftiness, sobriety, tendency to delay gratification constitute a culture of success. The only difference is that it used to be argued on biological grounds. But the economic success of the affluent is not due to the fact that they display such attitudes -- what they have are jobs, income, wealth, social services and public support systems, access to housing, credit, education, health care, high priced lawyers, insurance, and so on, in short, the resources that make it easier to deal with the problems of life that WE ALL FACE:
The point here is that the behavioral tendencies supposedly characterizing the underclass exist generally throughout the society. Drug use, divorce, educational underattainment, laziness, and empty consumerism exist no less in upper-status suburbs than in inner-city Bantustans. The difference lies not in the behavior but in the social position of those exhibiting it. Middle-class and upper-middle-class people have access to social resources ... that provide them safety nets along the way. (Reed, 1999, p. 190)
Behavioralism shifts responsibility away from the ruling class and American society and towards the poor themselves; purports to show the ineffectiveness of public policy and government’s failing; provides a point around which to mobiblize suburban white opinion and votes; and provides an effective scapegoat for the failures of American society in general (Hadjor, 1995, p. 124).

The behavioralist paradigm stands in stark contrast to an alternative structuralist view in which the structure of American capitalism, institutional racism, and capitalist patriarchy combine to form a socioeconomic system that systematically excludes most African Americans from access to economic opportunity. But so far we have only said that people are poor because they have no money, as opposed to their being poor because they have bad values. We need to identify the causes of Black poverty and unemployment and the persistence of Black poverty and unemployment. The behavioralist approach says that unless Black people change their values, they will stay poor and that public assistance supports dysfunctional values instead of supporting "good" ones (Kimenyi, 1995). The structuralist approach will argue instead that what the behavioralist thesis argues are effects of dysfunctional values and behaviors -- the material circumstances and socioeconomic status of an expanding segment of the Black community -- are rooted in structural features of American society that will have to be directly addressed by activist public policy.

We have said that the roots of Black poverty are to be found in the structural features of American capitalism articulated with institutional racism and capitalist patriarchy. The first structural feature of American capitalism is that unemployment is a normal feature of the economic system. The second feature of American capitalism in the structuralist explanatory framework is that the employed are divided between the high-waged and the low-waged. So people are poor because they either have no job or they have low-waged jobs. These low-waged jobs are also low benefits jobs, with little job security. The next structural feature is that there are involuntary part-time workers; then there are the cyclically unemployed -- those who are only employed during economic expansions. The cyclically employed are further divided between the first fired and the last fired, the first hired and the last hired.

So Blacks are disproportionately poor because they are disproportionately unemployed (including what Myers (1989) has called involuntarily nonemployed -- referring to involuntary labor force withdrawal); disproportionately cyclically employed, employed in low waged jobs with little benefits or job security, disproportionately involuntarily employed only part-time. To explain these facts the structuralist has to first explain the existence of various forms of nonemployment, unemployment, and cyclical employment, and then to explain why Blacks are disproportionately represented in these groups. To explain the unemployment, nonemployment, marginal employment, and cyclical unemployment, the structuralist needs Keynes/Kalecki causes of unemployment and cyclical unemployment due to deficiencies in effective demand and Marxian causes of structural and cyclical unemployment due to capitalist attempts to increase profitability by introducing labor saving and capital saving technical change resulting in a reserve army of unemployed, as well as Kalecki/Greenspan causes of unemployment and cyclical unemployment enforced by austerity policies. The reserve army of labor concept first put forward by Marx -- including the categories of floating, stagnant, and latent reserve army -- as well as the concept of the lumpenproletariat, are still useful concepts for understanding various categories of unemployment, nonemployment, and marginal employment (Shaikh, 1983; Braverman, 1974; Michie and O’Hara, 1999). Rooted in the classical and Marxian notion of capitalist competition, the reserve army of labor and related analytical categories are crucial to understanding not just the existence of unemployment, nonemployment, and marginal employment, and therefore the existence of poverty, but the persistence of unemployment, nonemployment, marginal employment, and poverty. In other words, these concepts are crucial to the analysis of capitalist conditions of production and social reproduction.

Fortunately, the theoretical work has been done (Botwinick, 1993; Williams, 1987; 1991; Mason, 1993), that helps us to clearly understand the functions that the reserve army of unemployed play in American capitalism -- and the emergence not only of the aggregate reserve army but the job specific and sector specific reserves -- that reserves are made up of the employed as well as the unemployed in the sense that those with lower wage jobs serve as potential replacements for those with higher paid jobs -- and that the competition among capitalist firms and the reality of endogenous technical change reproduces the reserve armies and the possibilities for persistent wage differentials within and between industries. This creates the basis for intense intra-class competition not just among firms, but among workers as well, and the historical record (Hill, 1985; Roediger, 1991) that "capitalists do not autonomously determine the composition of these divisions. Rather, gendered and racially and ethnically diverse workers participate in the process that distinguishes the waged from the unwaged and the low waged from the high waged" (Williams). Contrary to the neo-Marxist view, divisions among the working class are not simply the result of divide and conquer tactics of capitalists.

As Darity, et al. (1994, 60-61) pose it: "The question social scientists must address is why do mechanisms exist that allocate particular segments of the population, identified on ascriptive grounds ethnically or racially, more consistently to the underclass?" In a greatly overlooked article interrogating the term "underclass" as it relates to African Americans, Gary Rolison argues that workers attempting to protect their relative position as employed rather than unemployed and high waged rather than low waged seek to exclude "the selling of labor power by another propertyless class through social closure." (p. 294): "This process, following Weber ... typically ... takes the form of closing economic opportunities to "outsiders." (294-95). For Rolison, "we can best discern the relative power differential between ethnic and racial groups by the power they have in defining themselves and in resisting the social definitions of others ... [E]thnic and racial group stratification can be differentiated as social categories on the basis of whether racial and ethnic identities are either self-generated or other-imposed." (Rolison, 295-96):
[R]acial identity in contrast to ethnic identity can only emerge within a context of domination ... That is to say, the process of racial identity formation becomes possible only when the dominant group is able to displace the subordinate group’s previous ethnic self-identity and impose in its place the single criteria of visible physical existence, as he dominant group constructs it ... Moreover, once initiated, this racial identity can only be maintained when the dominant group affixes intergenerational immutability to these socially constructed physical differences ... Hence, unlike ethnic domination, where assimilatory efforts by the dominant group can simultaneously eradicate ethnic identity and therefore modify an existing system of ethnic stratification, a system of racial domination remains relatively fixed because the eradication of racial identity is for the most part outside the scope of the dominated group’s amalgamatory efforts. That is, whereas a subordinate ethnic group can through the process of assimilation typically attain dominant-group membership, the subordinate racial group through amalgamation typically cannot (Rolison, 1994, 296-97)
Anderson (1990), Roediger (1991), Hill (1985), Brown (1999), and others have documented both the social structures of exclusion and "social structures of insulation" (Boushey, 2000) that protected favored in-groups and systematically excluded others on the basis of the social assignment of meaning to otherwise arbitrary ascriptive traits. We refer here to such social institutions as unions and apprentice programs that engaged in exclusionary practices and informal networks defined by socially constructed race.

These socially constructed ascriptive traits were based primarily on skin color, and ethnic out-groups had access to means of assimilation and Americanization (Hill, 1984) that guaranteed economic opportunity, while out-groups -- primarily African Americans -- intergenerationally transferred the ascriptive traits, guaranteeing social exclusion from access to economic opportunity.
[T]he Black underclass differs fundamentally from the White poor because of its exclusion from the labor market as a result of the cultural construction of racial membership as an axis of social closure in a multiethnic, multiracial society such as the United States. In other words, by not paying sufficient attention to the enduring quality of racism and its class basis and function, many analysts have confused the poor -- those with little income but with the possibility of either intra- or intergenerational social mobility -- with the underclass -- those who are without such possibilities due primarily to a racial status that prevents the full and equal exchange of their labor power in the market. (Rolison, 1994, 298-99)
The focus on conditions of social reproduction is also crucial because they also set the limits and boundaries of policy within the capitalist mode of production. If Black poverty and marginal employment and unemployment are not merely by-products of capitalism, but serve what Herbert Gans (1972) has called "positive functions," then this has implications for policy. Gans outlined fifteen positive functions that poverty and the poor play in American capitalism. He then sought to identify "functional alternatives" to these that would make poverty and the poor unnecessary. Gans cautioned however, that these functional alternatives could prove to be dysfunctional other social groups, where "functions benefit the group in question and dysfunctions hurt it" (1972, pp. 276-77). Our analysis so far suggests that we must consider how, e.g., functional alternatives to Black unemployment might be dysfunctional for white workers. Importantly, Gans noted that "probably one of the few instances in which a phenomena has the same function for two groups with different interests is when the survival of the system in which both participate is at stake." (1972, p. 276n3). In short, the scope for policy is very different when we are talking not just about eliminating the undesirable by-products of a system, but attempting to address phenomena that serve a functional role in the system. Furthermore, differing class or group interests need to be considered. As a secondary goal of his paper, Gans was seeking to revive Mertonian functionalism in sociology, and hoped to demonstrate that functionalism need not be conservative, and may come to similar conclusions as radical sociological analysis. But an analysis of functions need not be functionalist. In particular, the classical and Marxian focus on conditions of social reproduction permits the analysis of functions, as well as of differing class interests, without the baggage of functionalism. For present purposes, the questions we must ask are: 1) are there positive functions (with respect to certain classes or class segments and/or with respect to the system as a whole) of the so-called Black "underclass"? 2) if yes, are there functional alternatives, i.e. antiracist antipoverty policies that would eliminate such systemic necessities of the Black "underclass"?

It is here where a most disturbing set of issues arise. Darity, et al. (1994) argue that with the transformation from industrial capitalism to what they call managerial capitalism or managerial society, the Black "underclass" is no longer functioning as a reserve army of labor. This is leading to increasing "social unwantedness of young black males. And this social unwantedness explains how policies evolve that act to selectively incapacitate or exterminate the superfluous elements of the labor pool" (Darity, et al., 1994, pp. 59-60). As Myers put it elsewhere:
There is no doubt that declining labor force participation and growing unemployment are signals of increased marginalization of at least one significant segment within the black community, the black "underclass." This "underclass" has become the epitome of superfluous labor in the sense that its members are neither wanted nor needed for the efficient operation of contemporary job markets. Increasingly, these people -- who disproportionately populate the prisons, drug-abuse clinics, mental hospitals, and other repositories for the unwanted and disenfranchised of the world -- have become the literal hemorrhoids of domestic policy making. Uncomfortably burdensome in their initial stages, these hidden inconveniences eventually erupt into painful reminders of failed policies and social neglect. Myers, 1989, p. 82)
For Gans, as well as for Piven and Cloward, there are "positive" functions of the "underclass" even when they no longer function as a reserve army of labor. Gans lists numerous functions. The "underclass" provide clients for charities, create jobs for professions that serve the poor, the poor can be punished or upheld as deviants in order to uphold the legitimacy of dominant norms, serve as symbolic consituencies (the "left") and opponents (the "right") for political groups, and so on. Piven and Cloward emphasize that even when no longer functioning as a reserve army of labor, the "underclass" functions as a living threat to the working poor -- ‘this could be you’ -- thus, continuing to discipline workers much as Marx described. Darity, et al. do recognize some of these functions. In particular, they emphasize that "the managerial elite has grown ... to have a vested interest in the newly emergent institutions designed to control, contain or eradicate the underclass" (1994, p. 57). Mincy, along with Darity et al., identifies "middle class blacks" as one of the segments operating as "service providers and custodians of the black underclass. These positions include prison guards, welfare caseworkers, probation officers, teachers in ghetto schools" and so on (Mincy, p. 116).

We need to be clear about what is at stake here. First, a portion of the Black population (the "underclass") is increasingly detached from the labor force, decreasing significantly the ‘positive’ functions they serve in American society. Second, while we can identify ‘positive’ functions that the underclass continue to play, these functions assign these individuals to the most degraded and destitute status imaginable, to a large degree institutionalized, but with elimination -- through violence, selective population control, and so on -- an integral part of the system, and a system in which other segments of the population, including portions of the Black middle class, have some kind of stake. A question that follows is whether the pressures for extermination and elimination, which are part of the system, are greater than the pressures for social reproduction. We also have to ask ourselves whether the system can lock into an "irrational" path, leading to genocide even if that would be ‘dysfunctional’ for other segments of the population. Wallerstein and others have argued that genocide is "irrational" under capitalism, because exploitation requires social reproduction of labor power. But in the face of historical precedents of genocide, we must ask ourselves if selective genocide might not also play a role under capitalism. If a segment of the population totally destitute and degraded can play a disciplining role by serving as a threat to other segments of the working poor, why couldn't genocide do the same -- ‘this could be you’ -- quite a wake-up call to maintain your social ‘usefulness.’ Finally, are we actually suggesting that we need to affirm or reinforce the social ‘usefulness’ of a destitute underclass so we can prevent their elimination? I hope that I am successfully conveying the disturbing nature of these questions, and why I feel that there is an urgency to rally around some kind of powerful alternative vision that can immunize us from defeatism and nihilism and counter the hegemonic behavioralist ideology and offer some truly positive alternative path from the one we may now be on.

What are the alternatives? In the short run, at least, the main structural features of American society are given. And Keynes’s "in the long run we are all dead" not only takes on a new meaning, but for some segments of the population we are not talking about the long run -- for some the promise of death or at least incarceration or institutionalization is in the short run, is in the very short run.

Darity, et al. offer no real policy solution, and though they do not say so, one gets the sense that they felt that to hold out any hope would have minimized the impact of their analysis. Of the others who also recognize the severity of the problem there is one common theme that runs through the literature: Universal Public Service Employment to on the one hand provide individuals with income earning jobs, and on the other hand to increase the social services and community support systems available. There is a shortage of jobs and a shortage of community services that can amplify support systems in inner city neighborhoods that are rife with poverty, unemployment, and the associated crime, violence, drugs, etc. Mincy emphasizes that the two priorities are an employment policy that can "overcome barriers to labor force nonparticipation" and public safety (1994, p. 122, p. 133). He specifically cites Public Service Employment as playing potentially a role in preventing the outcome "that Darity and Myers foresee" (1991, p. 141). Mincy also cites Public Service Employment as "allowing fathers to meet their child support obligations. Fathers would therefore be more willing to establish paternity, take on long-term child support obligations" (1994, p. 141).

Hadjor points out that: "Through all the studies and investigations of recent years, nobody has ever been able to demonstrate that people on welfare in America’s inner cities have a "pathological" unwillingness to work for a decent wage. Every survey or interview conducted among ghetto youth reflects their desire for good jobs to provide an escape from the criminal sub-economy" (1995, 135). Adolph Reed, Jr. argues that "we should fight for policy changes that will open opportunity structures: support for improving access to jobs, housing, schooling, and real drug rehabilitation of the sorts available to the relatively well-off" (p. 195), adding that "I do not want to hear another word about drug or crime without hearing about decent jobs, housing, and egalitarian education in the same breath" (Reed, 1999, p. 196).

In the 1996 The State of Black America The National Urban League calls for a policy that "has a laser-like focus on jobs for the inner city poor":
Make no mistake, inner city folk want to work. We've got to spread the job action around if inner city folk are to work -- and if cities are to work. There is no macroeconomic policy, no economic growth scenario, no model cities approach, no black capitalism strategy and no enterprise zone experiment imaginable that can match the Depression-era Works Progress Administration in jumpstarting hope by driving unemployment down in a hurry. [There is] nothing un-American about spending public money to fill gaping holes in the labor market. (p. 9, quoted in Fine and Weiss, p. 259)
The key is to distinguish between what is being proposed here and draconian workfare. Nancy Rose suggests that there are positive precedents in the United States in the form of 1945 Full Employment bill and the original Humphrey Hawkins bill, for "a public-sector job creation program" in which the "federal government would be the employer of last resort" (1995, p. 182) and insists that "programs should be universal so that welfare recipients are not singled out and stigmatized"(1995, p. 179). In her view such a program "would recognize the value of caretaking work in the home and compensate women and men for this work ... counter[ing] the generally accepted view that only paid labor is ‘real work’ and reinterpreting work in the home as critically important, socially necessary labor":
Further, it is not only work in women's own homes that is critically important, but also work in the community. Welfare mothers often function as a type of social glue that holds low-income communities together; their presence in the schools and in the projects is critically important. This needs to be recognized as socially useful work, much more valuable than flipping hamburgers or entering data in a computer. (1995, p. 180)

We can see from the massive and innovative programs from the 1930s that large-scale programs providing a range of work are indeed possible ... A partial list of projects includes repair of crumbling infrastructure (such as repairing roads and bridges), other construction projects (including low cost housing and public transportation systems), public-sector projects (for example, teacher’s aides in public schools, public health projects, programs for school dropouts, and conservation), and increased public support for the arts. (1995, pp. 182-83)
Interestingly, the universal Public Service Employment assurance is supported by those who arrive at their policy position from different analyses, such as William Julius Wilson (1996) and even behavioralists such as Mickey Kaus (1992). The challenge is to explore the possibilities of crafting a broad coalition that can find the widest support possible without sacrificing the crucial details that distinguish the plan from punitive workfare.

Wilson also supports a "WPA-style" program that would be open to all, in other words, that is not limited to welfare recipients or poor workers. Work performed would include both infrastructure maintenance and labor-intensive public service employment, such as day-care aides, playground assistants in school gyms and public parks (1996, pp. 229-32). The program would be coupled with government-funded day-care that would be "integrated into a larger system of child-care ... to avoid creating a ‘day-care ghetto’ for low-income children" (1996, p. 230). The program must avoid any ‘fiscal substitution’ to both protect other public sector workers form being displaced and to ensure that the aggregate number of jobs is increased (1996, pp. 232-33). Relatedly, Wilson proposes that such public sector services not duplicate either present public sector or private sector services, to both ensure there is no displacement and to prevent possible objections. The program would also include health insurance (1996, p. 234). Kaus's work reeks of the "culture-of-poverty" and "underclass" viewpoint, which should be loudly rejected. Kaus and Wilson also propose a lower than minimum wage for these jobs, which should also be rejected. But the general idea of WPA-style jobs for all, without means tests, without time limits, coupled with day care and health insurance, should be embraced.

Handler and Hasenfeld cite additional successful programs as precedents, such as CETA, the Civil Works Administration, and the Youth Incentive Entitlement Pilot Projects (1997, p. 102). The CWA had no means tests and included the same health insurance as regular federal employees. CETA also provided direct job creation and though it "acquired an unfavorable reputation as a result of a few isolated but highly publicized incidences of abuse and corruption, a careful review of the research on the effectiveness of the program suggests that such a reputation is unwarranted" (1997, p. 103). YIEPP was a hugely successful program that provided "jobs that were of adequate quality and provided meaningful work experiences, not make work. The program was very effective in attracting minority young people and had a dramatic effect on their unemployment rates ... [and] closed the gap between black and white employment rates" in 11,000 work sites (1997, pp. 104-05). "The project belied the stereotype that minority young people are unmotivated or have unrealistic work expectations. It showed that a major reason for high minority youth unemployment is lack of jobs" (ibid.).

We must not overlook the fact that there have been public employment programs that have been discriminatory, and painstaking efforts must be made establish a NO TOLERANCE policy regarding discrimination. Racial and gender discrimination in some New Deal programs, including the TVA and the National Recovery Administration, have been well-documented, and we must learn from the mistakes from past programs as well as their successes (Piven and Cloward, p. 76; Rose). This was no "random" prejudice either; evidence exists that exclusionary racist practices were utilized to ensure that African Americans would remain available for undesirable private sector jobs (Piven and Cloward). Research is available to inform us of other pitfalls as well. Elijah Anderson's (1990) research on youth employment programs in Philadelphia found that "many programs functioned as little more than stopgap measures to appease, to cool out, to buy off problematic youth, measures that in effect led to their being retained in what amounted to human holding tanks" (Anderson, 1990, p. 214). Michael K. Brown has raised the important question as to exactly "what constitutes a race-neutral social policy in a racially stratified society" (1999, 97). But what this means is that we must be clear that the policies being suggested here are in no way sufficient by themselves to address the enduring problems of racism in this country.

Present effects of historical discrimination and continuing discrimination mean that affirmative action still has an important role, but as Manning Marable argues, "advocates of affirmative action must carefully link their struggle for social justice with efforts to achieve full employment ... Affirmative action is not an anti-poverty program, and it was never designed to create full employment" (1997, p. 267). Marable makes the important point that opposition to affirmative action is rooted in "white male fear" that "reflects narrowing economic opportunity" among those who have benefited -- relatively or absolutely--from discrimination.(p. 265). Moreover:
[T]he interests of people who have traditionally experienced discrimination and the concerns of those who are fearful of losing their jobs are connected. Unless the total number of decent jobs is significantly increased for everybody, millions of white male workers will be inclined to perceive affirmative action as counter to their narrow, material interests. Progressive political initiatives like affirmative action are always more acceptable when the economic pie is expanding. (Marable, 1997, p. 267).
Rhonda Williams makes the same point that it is crucial:
to remember that affirmative action strategies work best and are politically most acceptable in an expanding economy. Under those conditions, affirmative action can improve employment prospects for minorities without displacing whites. (Williams, 1990, p. 20)

Affirmative action, then, does not go to the root of the employment problems of blacks in today’s era of global capital restructuring. Moreover, as the supply of good jobs shrinks, affirmative action becomes more difficult to defend successfully. Economic democracy suggests more cogent solutions. (Williams, 1990, p. 21)
A comprehensive program to address the present and past effects of racism would have to include affirmative action and reparations, as well as the kind of guaranteed employment policy being proposed here.

If the jobs created through public service employment assurance are to truly serve the community then the community and neighborhood organizations must take the reins and administer the programs to the fullest extent possible, rather than having the federal government involved in the majority of administration. The federal government’s job is to provide the wages and benefits. The initial attempt to employ Public Service Employees must be through registered community service organizations that already exist. In this way the program will be able to employ individuals with minimal additional bureaucracy, and will in addition supply labor to organizations that provide needed public and social services that enhance the quality of life in that region. Because the federal government pays the wage-benefits package, community service organizations obtain additional workers at no extra cost. Communities will experience an increase in a variety of public services in their region, and this in turn will contribute to an increased quality of life for all members of the community, especially the less well-off. Mincy (p. 116) refers to a wide variety of "civil rights and community based service organizations committed to supporting lower income blacks." Public Service Employees themselves must also have the opportunity to initiate and develop public and community service projects:
We must develop socially useful forms of work, which enhance the creativity and involvement of workers ... The most rewarding jobs are those which give opportunities for creativity, provide a living wage and have a beneficial effect. People like to do, and like to be seen to be doing, good works. Our cities provide numerous opportunities for congenial employment, from beautifying our cities with gardens to mending footpaths and building playgrounds ... Real job-creation schemes involve the workers in the goals and strategies of the employment. Let us allow people the dignity of being involved in identifying, as well as doing, useful employment." (Short, p. 127)
The hegemony of the behavioralist paradigm has to be challenged by a powerful antiracist and feminist vision of economic and multicultural democracy. What does the right to employment as outlined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Charter and Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights and potentially implemented through legislation creating Universal Public Service Employment Assurance (PSEA) imply? Could it constitute the necessary first step toward Multicultural Democracy. As described by Columbia University Professor Manning Marable, Multicultural Democracy:
Means that this country was not built by and for only one group -- Western European [males]; that our country does not have only one language -- English; or only one religion -- Christianity; or only one economic philosophy -- corporate capitalism. Multicultural democracy means that the leadership within our society should reflect the richness, colors, and diversity expressed in the lives of all our people. Multicultural democracy demands new types of power sharing and reallocation of resources necessary to create economic and social development for those who have been systematically excluded and denied. Multicultural democracy enables all women and men to achieve full self-determination ... Multicultural democracy articulates a vision of society that is feminist ... Multicultural democracy includes a powerful economic vision that is centered on the needs of human beings. We each need to go out into the community and begin hammering out an economic vision of empowerment that grassroots people can grasp and understand and use ... Is it right for a government to spend billions and billions for bailing out fat cats who profited from the savings and loan scam while millions of jobless Americans stand in unemployment lines, desperate for work? Is it fair that billions of our dollars are allocated for the Pentagon’s permanent war economy ... while 2 million Americans sleep in the streets and 37 million Americans lack any form of medical coverage? Is it a democracy that we have when we have the right to vote but no right to a job? Is it a democracy when people of color have the freedom to starve, the freedom to live in housing without adequate heating facilities, the freedom to attend substandard schools? Democracy without social justice, without human rights, without human dignity is no democracy at all. (Marable, 1997, pp. 157-58) 



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