Global Labor's Forgotten Plan to Fight the Great Depression.
In the early 1930s, as global unemployment tripled in two years and the world plunged into the Great Depression, the world’s labor movements developed a program for fighting the global crisis through international public works. It’s a little-known historical might-have-been that could have helped halt the Great Depression, the rise of Adolph Hitler, and the Second World War. And, as the efforts of world leaders to address today’s “Great Recession” threaten to break down in nationalist rivalry and petty political bickering, it bears lessons – and perhaps an alternative vision – for today.
Workers and organized labor have historically advocated government public works as a solution to unemployment. Not only would they provide jobs and income for those directly employed, but they would raise overall purchasing power, thereby creating demand for the products of other workers and creating a virtuous circle of economic growth. In the context of swelling unemployment in the early Depression, discussion of national public works programs developed in many countries.
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