Q: Your main argument in this
book is that it is a fallacy to believe that if the economy is good
then we have jobs and growth. How did you come to this conclusion,
and what made you realize that this is the case?
A: I observed this disconnect in the early 1990s
in connection with a book I co-authored called The Jobless Future.
The "recovery" of 1992-3 produced a lot of "McJobs"
but continued to hemorrhage good jobs—those paying a living
wage, providing benefits, and presuming permanent status to the
employee. This trend continued throughout the 1990s but became prevalent
during the first four years of the 21st century.
Q: You suggest that the Clinton Boom years
and the Bush recession are two sides of the same coin, with chronic
unemployment (and underemployment) present in both periods. How
do you feel each President handled their respective situations?
A: Badly. Clinton signed the Welfare Reform Act
in 1996 amidst the dot.com boom and retired from office before the
bust of 2001-3. Neither president took extraordinary measures to
combat structural unemployment. In Bush's case we have had a pandemic
of structural unemployment and underemployment and the administration
believes tax cuts are the answer. Both, however were tied to a crude
and rather unrealistic concept of jobs and believed that economic
growth automatically leads to job growth.
Q: You talk in your preface about how technology
at first produced more jobs, but in the long run it destroyed
more jobs than it created. What trends are you seeing in the job
A: The idea that economy recovery can be measured
by growth data and that, therefore, good jobs follow economic growth,
is a kind of mantra based on the previous industrializing era and
the effect of large numbers of private and public sector service
jobs existing to take up the slack produced by shrinking manufacturing
jobs. In recent years many private sector jobs are temporary, contingent
and low paid; public sector employment has largely stagnated except
in education and health.
Q: Can you explain why you chose the title
"Just around the Corner"? You use this phrase in your
chapter on "The Reagan Revolution." Can you discuss the
effects Reagan's policies had on the job market?
A: "Just around the Corner" is an ironic
comment. I believe we are racing to the bottom as fast as workers
will let employers get away with bad jobs. However, 2% of the population
is doing very well, another 8% is treading water and 90% have experienced
decline of real wages in the past twenty years. That's the legacy
of the Reagan Revolution.
Q: You open Chapter 3 with a discussion of
the "economic malaise" generated by outsourcing and trade
deficits. What do you think are the solutions to these by-products
A: Some outsourcing is inevitable and may be necessary
for some businesses. But outsourcing to reduce labor costs is unacceptable
and should be regulated by law and by labor agreements. Cost containment
is the enemy of balanced trade. Trade deficits are a direct consequence
of deindustrialization. Many things that were once produced in the
USA are no longer made here: clothing, textiles, and some of our
steel. 25% of autos sold in this country are made abroad, and recently
even engineering and computer products which many economists believed
would replace "rust belt" products, are made elsewhere—especially
in China, Japan and India.
Q: You suggest that Americans have lost their
collective voice. What do you recommend people do to stop job destruction
A: Restrain employers from outsourcing in order
to save labor costs, by law; fight to raise wages and living standards
in developing countries by supporting workers who want to organize
free trade unions; and workers should consider operating abandoned
plants that once produced now imported products by forming cooperatives.
Q: Just Around the Corner also addresses issues
of health care, the privatization of Social Security, and other
timely topics. You advocate unionization as being the best support
for workers rights, especially in an era with so much job insecurity.
Given the struggles to unionize in the past few decades, why do
you feel this is still true?
A: If unions are now weak, in part, because of
globalization, it does not mean they are outmoded. Rebuilding the
labor movement is one of the best measures to revive jobs because
Organized Labor, with all of its problems, remains the best defender
of workers interests.
Q: You conclude with the idea that we are
working harder and longer for less money and that minimum wage is
one third of the average wage. Do you feel that things will ever
A: Things will improve when the American people
lift the scales from their eyes and refuse to be tricked, bamboozled,
and scared. Intentional or not, the War on Terror has set America
back a half century. Even during the Vietnam War, when the threat
of terrorism was announced by the Johnson administration, the federal
government was forced by Labor and the Civil Rights Movement to
recognize structural unemployment as a serious American problem.
Today this question has been buried in war fever. When we take the
antibiotic of common sense, we can change the world.