Fetish of Full Employment   1 comment

The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate, but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group, but for all groups.

This is an ongoing series of posts on Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. You can access the Table of Contents here. Although written in 1946, it still touches on many of the issues we face in 2017, particularly the fallacies government economic programs are built upon.


The economic goal of any nation or individual is to get the greatest result with the least effort. All economic progress of mankind consists of getting more production with the same labor. We domesticated animals, invented the wheel and the cart, the wagon, the railroad and the semi-truck to achieve this goal.

Image result for image of productivityThat seems pretty elementary, which is probably why people tend to forget about it and start shouting slogans about “full employment”.

We could define “full employment” as the absence of involuntary idleness. In economics, production is the end goal. Employment is merely the means. It is impossible to continuously have full production with full employment, but we can create the adverse conditions where we have full employment without full production.

Primitive tribes are naked, wretchedly fed and houses, but they do not suffer from unemployment.

Third world countries are comparably poorer than the United States, but the main trouble they suffer is primitive production methods, not unemployment. Divorce employment from the goal of full production and full employment is easily achievable. War provides full employment for every nation involved. Slave labor in Germany created full employment. Prisons and chain gangs can create full employment.

Coercion can always provide full employment.

Whenever we discuss full employment, wages and employment are discussed as if they had no relation to productivity and output. Hazlitt actually said it would be better to have full production with a portion of the population on welfare than to provide “full employment” by creating make-work that damages productivity.

In 1946, children and the elderly no longer worked and many women were stay-at-home mothers, because productivity improvements had increased wealth. In another words, there was a lot of unemployment in the country, but it was by choice, made possible by increases in productivity.


One response to “Fetish of Full Employment

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pingback: Introduction to “Economics in One Lesson” | aurorawatcherak

What's Your Opinion?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Wolfe's Rants

A writer's life - advice, works and musings by Wolfe Butler

Matthew Winters (Comeback Pastor)

The life, ministry, & thoughts of a Christ-follower, husband, dad, & minister

Thoughts of Dymphna

Reality is Subjective; enter mine.

Leo X. Robertson

News of my latest publications, events, and episodes of the Losing the Plot podcast!

Sherry Parnell

Author of "Let the Willows Weep"

Emerald Book Reviews

Book Reviews and Promotion Services

YA Chit Chat

The Ponderings of YA author J. Keller Ford

madchen863's Blog

Planet Earth: home of life


Radio for the Awake and Aware


Soweto isiPantsula Crew + Management


Just a redheaded woman who is obsessed with books

Mercedes Prunty Author

The Walking Mumbie

InsureZero Blog

All you need to know about Insurance

Creative Ideas for Starving Artists

Brain juice that revives and refreshes

Real Science

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" - Richard Feynman

Marsha Ingrao

Traveling & Blogging Near and Far

Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

"You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me." ~C.S. Lewis

Darlene Foster's Blog

dreamer of dreams, teller of tales

%d bloggers like this: