It is hard to disagree with President Obama when he tells us it is wrong for returning veterans to be unable to find work. Even Senate Republicans went along with his proposal to give tax credits to companies that hire unemployed veterans.
Still, this kind of rhetoric and legislation should make us all very uneasy. Although it sounds good in Veteran’s Day oratory, it smacks too much of telling us that the wrong people are unemployed.
Government should not be in the business of deciding who should be employed and who should not be employed. Nor should anybody else be in that business. In a full-employment economy, veterans, like everyone else, would be able to find jobs.
We often hear laments that older people, young people, and members of racial minorities suffer from higher unemployment than do middle-aged non-minority people, which again takes the existence of unemployment as a given and suggests it should be distributed more equitably.
There is nothing in the structure of the physical or social universes that requires the existence of unemployment. During World War II the
During the heyday of the
There are several ways the
Whether we supported or opposed the wars they have been fighting, we can only wish returning veterans the best. But we can wish no less for all other Americans. It is time to stop talking about reducing unemployment and to start talking about eliminating it.
This piece has run on CommonDreams.org.