Growth v. employment: where should our loyalties lie?
We have seen that the decades following the reconstruction effort of war-torn Europe and the rise of the United States’ prominence in the global economy were marked by deep tensions in the U.S. over economic policies that strove toward full employment versus those that promoted greater economic growth. Similar tensions exist today, with unemployment slowly rebounding after the 2008 recession (currently at 5.7% or 9 million Americans), deficit spending and public-held debt at record highs, and economic growth waning in recent years.
Which policy objective do you believe should have prevailed then and should prevail today, and why? In answering this question, you must (1) briefly explain whether these two policy objectives are inherently contradictory (is it not possible to achieve both concurrently?), (2) identify what the primary social or moral value is that grounds you answer (e.g., prosperity or security or equality, etc.), and (3) briefly discuss one particular public policy whose consequences illustrate why you believe that eliminating unemployment or achieving greater economic growth was/is more important than the other.