The Politics of Employment

"Jobs Issue Dominates Defense Cuts Debates," the Los Angeles Times proclaimed in a recent article. The story informed us that the end of the Cold War has brought about layoffs for many workers in the defense industry. This, in turn, has led members of Congress to wonder if the reductions in military spending associated with the end of the Cold War should be reconsidered.

Variations on the same theme have been a subject of discussion in many communities around the nation. "Cold War's End Devastating to Defense Jobs" was a headline in the Atlanta Journal. In Boston, the Globe reported "Study Cites Defense Cuts' Harm to Northeast." All across the country, concerned citizens are alarmed that reductions in the nation's defense budget will create significant unemployment and aggravate the sluggishness in economic conditions that has characterized recent years. In a study for the Congress, the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment estimated that the defense cutbacks may well cost the nation 250,000 jobs a year until the year 2001. All told, some 2.5 million jobs could be lost. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sam Nunn (D-Georgia) opined that the defense reductions are "going to have certainly a detrimental effect on jobs in America." George Bush, in proposing a multibillion-dollar job training program, stressed the importance of retraining defense-related...

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