The NDP's future
Letter in National Post, May 8, 2018
Re: John Ivison: Left-of-centre Liberals leave Singh's NDP struggling for relevance, May 3, 2018
In his 1971 retirement speech, then NDP leader Tommy Douglas noted that during WWII the federal government used the Bank of Canada "to make financially possible what was physically possible". The government fed, clothed and armed one million men and women in our military forces. Douglas told Canadians, "...if we could mobilize the .... resources of this country to fight a successful war against Nazi tyranny, we can ....mobilize the same resources to fight a continual war against poverty, unemployment, and social injustice."
Today we have an "army" of over one million unemployed Canadians, their talents not needed by the private sector. Under a federal Job Guarantee, our national government could fund non-profit groups to develop and manage useful work (e.g. care for seniors, youth recreation, arts and culture, and environmental protection), opening up job opportunities across the country. It's time for the NDP to differentiate itself from old-line parties and advocate a full employment policy. Democratic leaders in the United States such as Senator Bernie Sanders are now promoting this radical new piece of economic policy.
1. Tommy Douglas was a “macroeconomist”, not a “provincialist”!
"In 1937 when the CCF proposed in the House of Commons a $500 million program to put single unemployed to work, the Minister of Finance said where will we get the money? Mr. Benson asked the same question today. My reply at that time was that if we were to go to war, the Minister would find the money. And it turned out to be true.
In 1939, when we declared war against Nazi Germany, for the first time we used the Bank of Canada to make financially possible what was physically possible. We took a million men and women and put them in uniform. We fed and clothed and armed them. The rest of the people of Canada went to work. The government organized over 100 Crown corporations. We manufactured things that had never been manufactured before. We gave our farmers and fishermen guaranteed prices and they produced more food than we had ever produced in peace time. We built the third largest merchant navy in the world and we manned it.
In order to prevent profiteering and inflation, we fixed prices, and we did it all without borrowing a single dollar from outside of Canada. … And my message to the people of Canada is this: that if we could mobilize the financial and the material and the human resources of this country to fight a successful war against Nazi tyranny, we can if we want to mobilize the same resources to fight a continual war against poverty, unemployment, and social injustice."
2. The Job Guarantee: A Government Plan for Full Employment
The benefits of full employment include production of goods, services and income; on-the-job training and skill development; poverty alleviation; community building and social networking; social, political and economic stability; and social multipliers (positive feedbacks and reinforcing dynamics that create a virtuous cycle of socioeconomic benefits). An “employer of last resort” program would restore the government’s lost commitment to full employment in recognition of the fact that the total impact would exceed the sum of the benefits.
3. We Work - Give job guarantee a chance
"ON APRIL 23, BERNIE SANDERS announced he will propose a “job guarantee” program—the most radical new piece of economic policy legislation in decades. "
Modern Monetary Theory in Canada