On July 8 – 9 CPEG joined members of Congress, representatives of community groups and union members from around the country for a “Jobs Briefing” in Washington D.C. Bill Barclay was on the panel analyzing the current jobs situation, outlining policies to address continued high unemployment and assessing our experiences organizing the unemployed. His comments are below.
I’m pleased to be at this jobs briefing as both a founding member of, and representing, the Chicago Political Economy Group. CPEG developed and published a comprehensive jobs proposal in 2008, and we have worked with the staff of Rep. John Conyers to include many of the same ideas in HR 1000. I’m also here as a Democratic Socialists of America member, happy to say that DSA was one of the first national organizations to endorse the legislation proposed by Rep. Conyers.
I’m going to consider three points in my remarks. First, what is happening to the US labor market during this Long Depression, a more appropriate title for the period we are in than recovery from something called the “Great Recession”; second, what is the role and importance of a financial transaction tax in the financing of a jobs program sufficient to the problems we face; and third, why did the efforts of several of us in 2009-10 in Chicago to organize the unemployed failed but why the situation may be different today.
The markets – Dow is up more than 150 points – and the media – “economy set to add most jobs since 2005” – liked today’s jobs report: 203,000 jobs created in November 2013. And, of course, we should be glad over 200,000 people had jobs in November who didn’t have them in October. But does this mean that the economy is up and running for us? Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to take three dates: Nov 2007, the last month before what has been labeled the “great recession,” June 2009, the official end of the “great recession”, and today and look at the job numbers. The table below provides that comparison (all numbers in 000s, population and labor force are people 16 and over, seasonally adjusted).
Members of the Chicago Political Economy Group recently gave several workshop presentations which are now available online.
At the NATO People’s Counter Summit in Chicago, CPEG’s Bill Barclay (along with Susan Hurley, Director of Chicago Jobs with Justice) conducted a workshop on a proposed Financial Transaction Tax for Illinois. His powerpoint, “A Speculation Sales Tax for Illinois” is now available for download here (.ppt).
Other CPEG members at the summit presented a seminar entitled “Confronting the Job Crisis“, focused on three issues: jobs, taxes and political mobilization. The workshop was covered nicely by the Red Line Project Blog.
At the Community Media Workshop, during a workshop on “The Great Wisconsin Resistance”, CPEG’s Mel Rothenberg presented his discussion paper “Labor and Occupy: Insights from Wisconsin“. The paper examines the role of contemporary trade unions in a revival of a mass political left versus their role as the center of a revived social movement. It is now available for download here (.pdf).
Sometimes it seems as if the housing bubble (which was the trigger for the ongoing Long Depression, or as some call it, the Great Recession) has been forgotten. That is very unfortunate – both for the success of policies designed to restart the US economy and for building a politics that could change the US political economy to benefit the 99% rather than the 1%. Authored by CPEG’s Bill Barclay, this new working paper examines the political economy of housing as the root of the Long Depression.
The paper begins by summarizing the scope of the existing housing catastrophe and then provides an overview of the policies and practices that created the housing bubble and collapse. The final two sections describe the work of the Home Owners Loan Corporation in the 1930s/40s and, using this model, outlines some possible policies to address the housing problem we face today.
Read the Working Paper (PDF)
Image: cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Authored by CPEG’s Bill Barclay, an expert on the housing crisis with 22 years of experience in the Financial Services Sector
According to press accounts, there will be a deal between the banks and the state Attorney Generals over housing/foreclosures, etc. A bubble in housing prices (driven by finance) got us into the Lesser Depression and it could get us out. But I don’t think this deal is it.
The banks are going to fork over $25 billion, plus access to refinancing by 300,000 homeowners now shut out, and perhaps some payments to 750,000 people who lost homes to foreclosure. This may sound like a lot of money – until you remember the scope of the problem.