What Do You Do When You No Longer Need Your Slaves?

With the introduction of Privatized prisons and the ever increasing invasive powers of the state here is something you might want to ponder!

By Thom Hartman

What does America do when she no longer needs her slaves or surplus workers?

The 1880’s reconstruction era was the first time in our history that America had seen a large surplus of non-white labor.

In the 1870’s many former slaves were integrated into the labor force, but white backlash in the 1880’s and 1890’s led to a permanent underclass through nearly a century of “separate but equal.”

For very different reasons, there was a similar surplus of white labor in the early 1930’s.

Regardless of race, capitalism runs in cycles: It’s called “the business cycle.” There are uptimes when there are jobs for everybody, the labor market is tight, and pay rises.

Then there are downtimes when the economy has a surplus of workers, falling wages, and a high level of unemployment.

We saw this cycle during the boom-and-bust of the roaring 20’s and the stock market crash and Great Depression of the 1930’s. After the crash, nearly a third of American workers couldn’t find a job, and the numbers were even worse in minority communities.

Our economy couldn’t put them to work, because capitalism failed.

So what do you do with all of those extra workers who can’t find a job?

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, that very question was the subject of a clear and open disagreement between Democrats and Republicans.

Herbert Hoover and the Republicans believed that when capitalism fails and you have high unemployment, you do nothing. You wait for the “free market” to magically fix things, and for capitalism to right the ship.

FDR and the Democrats believed that the Republican’s benign indifference was the completely wrong approach. Instead, FDR said that it’s the responsibility of government to put people back to work during times of high unemployment.

He enacted his New Deal.  He put Americans back to work planting trees and forests, building schools, and improving the nation’s infrastructure.  Twelve million Americans who’d been unemployed for years went back to work, and capitalism was rebooted in America.

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2 thoughts on “What Do You Do When You No Longer Need Your Slaves?

  1. Some may remember the PEP scheme here where the unemployed were put to work for a wage just above the dole..

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