DSA, Economy, and Election: A ‘Right to Jobs’ in the Air? – Democratic Socialists of America

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Both the free healthcare policy and the free education policy would lead to an immediate reduction of inequality in the United States. It would mean vastly more people possessing both good health and a good education. Therefore, these are very clear and popular programs.

DSA could also push for an even stronger third point: a guaranteed right to jobs for all workers at a living wage.

By Howard Sherman

The campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders for president in the Da guaranteed right to jobs for all workers at a living wageemocratic primaries in 2016 was a major boost to DSA and provided an opportunity for future progress. In spite of the fact that Bernie is an announced democratic socialist, his vote in the polls about the primaries rose from three percent at the to 45 percent at the end. This situation presents an opportunity that is feasible for any democratic socialist who is a candidate in the Democratic primaries running for president. Either Bernie, or someone stating his views, does have the real possibility of becoming the Democratic candidate for president in 2020.

Recent developments in progressive economics and sociology can offer good support for a democratic socialist program for the 2018 and 2020 elections. The data show that income and wealth inequality in the United States has reached an extremely high level. That inequality is still rising. The inequality ratio — all profits of American business, corporate and noncorporate, compared to all wages and salaries — has been rising in every expansion of U.S. capitalism. In other words, production has risen and profits have risen enormously, while wages and salaries have remained roughly constant in terms of buying power.

Each expansion, however, ends in declining production and severly reduced employment, with millions of people unemployed and human misery rising. I looked at the statistics and discussions showing these economic conditions for my book with  Paul Sherman, Inequality, Boom, and Bust : From Billionaire Capitalism to Equality and Full Employment.  These conditions of inequality, a high level of poverty, and periods of very high unemployment indicate the kind economic policies that DSA should attack.

The three main economic issues pushed by Bernie in his 2016 campaign were: free and universal healthcare, free and universal higher education, and a living wage for all workers. DSA can certainly support these issues, which have an enormous appeal both to the working class and to all young people and students. Both the free healthcare policy and the free education policy would lead to an immediate reduction of inequality in the United States. It would mean vastly more people possessing both good health and a good education. Therefore, these are very clear and popular programs.

DSA could also push for an even stronger third point: a guaranteed right to jobs for all workers at a living wage.

A living wage for all employed workers is a very good idea and DSA certainly supports that policy. In addition, however, the threat of unemployment in the private sector of capitalism is always in the air. To meet that threat, the DSA program should embrace. Those jobs can be in private industry, but when there is a recession and heavy unemployment, it is clear that the public sector must supply additional jobs to put everyone to work.

Campaigning on this kind of program, democratic socialist and other progressive candidates should be able to win Democratic primary elections both for congress and for president. It should then be possible to win in the general elections both in 2018 and 2020. DSA can play a strong role in this process.

Howard Sherman is Professor of Economics Emeritus at University of California, Riverside; and is Visiting Researcher at the Political Science Department of the University of California at Los Angeles.