The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century
Edited by Sarah Leonard and Bhaskar Sunkara
Metropolitan Books, 2016
$17.00; 208 pages
I received this book for free from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers Program.
Insofar as I don't want the future most of the contributors of this book are advocating for, this was an interesting read. I put off reviewing this for two years, so as part of my Lenten observance, I will review The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century.
The first essay, "Working for the Weekend," by Chris Maisano is a good example of what you'll find in the rest of the volume: excellent points interspersed with assertions premised on things I find dubious. For example, Maisano says that the definition of "full employment" is an economist's construct, based on the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment, or NAIRU. It is indeed a bit strange to think that 5% unemployment, or 1 out of 20 people is looking for work [to horrendously oversimplify], constitutes full employment.
In principle, the NAIRU, or its equivalents, is supposed to be the point where there is equilibrium between labor and capital. It represents a place where the curves cross, based on some empirical data. There is some unemployment, and some change in prices. However, I find myself a little suspicious that the chosen euphemism for this is "full employment." If you read between the lines, the economists who write about this admit that there is an element of choice in what level of unemployment is considered acceptable.
I can get on board with that. I think my problem is that Maisano, and the other contributors to this volume support lots and lots of other things that directly work against the goal of a stronger labor movement. For example, immigration was long considered by union leaders to be a tool of the boss-class to keep wages down and workers internally divided. This subject never once comes up in Maisano's essay. Which is probably because it is an own-goal.
While I'm interested in many of the subjects discussed here, I'm far from convinced the contributors know enough about them to really contribute. Thus, despite some overlap with what I also find wrong with America, I think I'm still a contra.
The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century By Sarah Leonard, Bhaskar Sunkara