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In response to Jan Rehmann’s November 6 post, I can briefly embellish my proposal.

The entry project of a major public employment program to “solve” the mostly private sector unemployment in the US would go beyond the usually level of reform (as, for example, in Obama’s 2009 stimulus program) in four dimensions.

First, it would stress direct public employment in the following industries: (a) constructing an environmentally focused public mass transportation system, (b) constructing a mass institution for low-cost, high-quality public day care for children 6 months and older expanding to after-school programs through high-school, and (c) reviving FDR’s WPA program from the 1930s for unemployed people with arts or crafts qualifications.

Second, it would encourage (or organize), support, train, and subsidize start-up enterprises in which the formerly unemployed workers would collectively function as their own board of directors. Ownership of such enterprises, initially and later, could be organized in various public and/or private ways. By insisting that the unemployed take jobs within such enterprises, we secure an absolutely new and different, anti-capitalist dimension of our direct public employment program.

Third, our program directly supports basic changes in the social conditions of women and children. Women’s work outside the household would gain a key support – day-care – freeing them from part of one major responsibility inside the household. Because these new day-care enterprises’ workers would function collectively as their own board of directors, children would gain regular, intense experience with this non-capitalist mode of organizing work.

Fourth, such a program for direct public employment would be funded by tax increases on the rich and/or reductions in military outlays (ending Iraq and Afghanistan occupations) Tax increases (especially adding new, higher federal income tax brackets on those earning over $400,000) and on business enterprises should replace borrowing (deficit finance) to secure funding for this public employment program. Here the state of Oregon’s 2009-2010 similar response to the current crisis (taxing the rich and business rather than cutting state services and payrolls as tax revenues fell) could serve as a partial model.

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