The Politics of Unemployment

  • Mark R. Reiff


If one accepts the various empirical claims I have made so far with regard to the effectiveness of the methods available for reducing unemployment, and the overall desirability and justness of working toward full employment, one “may well be led to wonder why there [is] any opposition” to using these methods at all, especially when the rate of unemployment is as high as it still is in many liberal capitalist economies, and too high even in those that have managed to recoverabit after an exceedingly long period of time.1 But not everyone does, of course, accept these empirical claims, and unfortunately, not everyone accepts that reducing unemployment is morally desirable, or at least they don’t accept that reducing unemployment is entitled to the moral priority I have argued that it is. Indeed, what I have argued is that there are three possible kinds of errors underlying opposition to the most promising methods of reducing unemployment. First, a great deal of this opposition simply arises out of empirical mistakes or misunderstandings of what economic actions cause what economic effects. As Virgil said, “lucky is he who has been able to understand the causes of things.’2 In other words, many of those voicing opposition are not opposed to reducing unemployment per se, they are simply misinformed or otherwise mistaken about the likely effects of the various economic proposals before them and this leads them to support proposals that would actually have no effect at all or even make the problem worse and to oppose proposals that would make the problem better.


Full Employment Business Leader Great Recession Moral Worth Government Effort 
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© Mark R. Reiff 2015

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  • Mark R. Reiff

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