Why Bernie Sanders Should Add a Job Guarantee to His Policy Agenda

By Pavlina R. Tcherneva

Discussions of the ‘politically possible’ always remind me of a favorite quote: “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours.”

Bernie Sanders’ issues page reads like a list of everything we’ve been told is not politically possible.  And yet he’s getting record breaking support, precisely because people are tired of being told that something cannot be done–that it is impossible to get money out of politics, or that tackling inequality and racial injustice is unrealistic, or that securing a living wage is a political nonstarter.

Bernie has unapologetically rejected sclerotic visions of what is ‘politically possible’.  And now he should add the Job Guarantee (JG) to his list of issues. Indeed, he already has the key ingredients—a bold proposal to eliminate unemployment by creating 13 million decent-paying jobs, a living wage, and a federally-funded youth job guarantee, which Sandy Darity correctly called a stepping stone (a pilot program) to a blanket job guarantee for all.

The Job Guarantee’s time has come.

  • It secures a basic human right
  • It tackles at least three key sources of “economic violence and injustice”—unemployment, precarious work, and poverty wages
  • It is good for families, the economy, the environment, and our communities

Here’s what you need to know about the JG.

THE JOB GUARANTEE IS NOT BIG GOVERNMENT

A common misconception of the JG is that it is a large and unpredictable program, echoed by Matt Bruenig in a recent post:

“The size of the workforce on the JG will greatly differ across the business cycle … Because the JG workforce should theoretically turn over a lot and shrink a lot, work valuable over the long run is ruled out.”

The concern is that the JG (aka the ELR) will be a very large and volatile, difficult to administer, not only because it has to handle many millions of unemployed people at any given time, but also because it needs to go through very large swings (trying to create millions of new jobs in recessions for the jobless, but being unable to complete its projects as these millions of people go back to private sector in expansions).  This is largely incorrect.

  1. JG stabilizes employment

Yes, the JG will fluctuate—it will grow in recessions and shrink in expansions. But a permanent JG will be relatively small and will oscillate comparatively little, because it stabilizes economic conditions, private spending, profit expectations and, importantly, employment.  The amplitudes of the economic volatility we observe today will be much smaller, precisely because the JG tackles all the vile consequences of mass unemployment (on private sector spending and expectations, and on people and communities).  The JG is also good for the private sector and ensures more stable and plentiful private sector employment, because it guarantees that domestic demand never collapses as much as it does today with mass unemployment.

  1. JG is a preventative program, not just a cure

Unemployment is like a virus, it spreads through the economy if nothing is done to check it. And the best ‘cure’ for someone who wants a job—is a job, not a handout.  But the JG is not just a cure. It’s also prevention.

Every unemployed person today puts another one out of work, but the Job Guarantee reverses the process: employing one person creates work for another.

Today, 20 million people want decent work at decent pay. If we launched a JG now it would surely balloon quickly, which is why Sanders’ proposal for creating 13 million jobs is the only program that guarantees a rapid return to true full employment. But a permanent JG would not need to employ tens of millions of people (+/-), because mass unemployment becomes a thing of the past.

The JG will always be there to provide voluntary employment for a pool of people (small relative to today’s unemployment numbers)—who have difficulty finding private sector jobs or have been rendered ‘unnecessary’ by private firms.  It’s one thing to support a family on an unemployment insurance check, and a whole different thing to replace lost private sector income with a living wage income from the JG in a job that does something useful (more below). In this sense, the livelihood of those participants is not disrupted as much as with unemployment, and does not cause the large ripple effect of layoffs through the economy we see today due to collapsing demand.

In other words, it is easier to prevent the development of mass unemployment, than to eliminate it once it has developed.

  1. JG breaks the vicious cycle at the bottom of the income distribution

As I have written before, people from different social stations experience different employment situations—the highly-skilled and highly-educated face virtually no unemployment, or relatively short stretches of joblessness. They are hired first and fired last. But even when they are unemployed, their safety net is much stronger because of more generous employment benefits, severance packages, savings and other sources of wealth.

But for those at the bottom of the income distribution, life is very different—precarious income and employment, longer periods of unemployment, shorter job tenure, and fewer prospects for accumulating wealth or building a nest egg. The vicious employment cycle is fired first-hired last. The JG by design captures those who are most vulnerable.

  1. The JG changes the economic odds for poor and middle class families

Imagine two candidates applying for a job: one has 9 months of experience in a JG soil renewal of reforestation project and the other – 9 months of unemployment. Which applicant would the prospective employer hire? Chances are – the one with the job. And indeed, research shows that, employers consider 9 month of unemployment to be the same as 4 years of lost work experience.

JG changes these odds. It gives people a chance for better life by providing a choice to work in a meaningful public service project—something welfare checks are not able to do.

  1. JG addresses income inequality and drives a stake through current power interests

Guaranteeing access to a living-wage job lifts incomes for the most vulnerable families in the economy – a key step to reversing income inequality in the US. And the threat of unemployment at the bottom of the income distribution is considerably weakened.

The JG redefines what kind of work is “useful”—public stewardship, environmental renewal and sustainability, community development and, importantly, investment in people, are recognized as important and valuable tasks, worthy of public support.

The JG establishes a standard for a decent pay package. It’s like the minimum wage, only better—everyone gets it and more (what good is the minimum wage to an unemployed person?). Private firms must match that minimum standard and pay extra when they need to hire those workers.

But let’s have no illusions: ‘captains of industry’ will fight the program tooth and nail, as Kalecki warned and Roosevelt experienced.  Yet FDR’s success (and that of Harry Hopkins, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frances Perkins, among others) in improving labor market conditions through New Deal programs remains unmatched in our history.

The Job Guarantee is the next step in completing the Roosevelt revolution.

  1. JG is the missing piece from the social safety-net

In advanced economies, basic needs are generally solved by direct means:

  • When the problem is retirement income insecurity – we provide retirement income (e.g., social security).
  • When the problem is food insecurity – we provide food.
  • When the problem is homelessness – we provide housing.
  • But when the problem is joblessness, we do not provide employment. We provide a handout, a training program, a college loan – everything but an actual job. The Job Guarantee institutes an important component of the overall safety-net: a job safety-net.

 

MUCH NEEDED PUBLIC WORKS ARE CLUMSY COUNTERCYCLICAL TOOLS AND DO NOT PROVIDE JOBS FOR ALL

The task before us is to provide a decent job at decent pay for everyone who wants one. Many progressives seem to think that conventional public works are better suited as countercyclical stabilizers or job creation policies. Bruenig echoes this sentiment by recommending that a “targeted Public Works approach…can be ramped up and down cyclically as needed.”  I find this proposal paradoxical since earlier in his blog, he argues that capital-intensive projects do not fluctuate easily with the business cycle. And that’s exactly right.

We either need to replace the Tappan Zee bridge or not. A high-speed rail system is either a good idea or not. Rain or shine, recession or expansion, the work has to be done. These projects cannot fluctuate because they are essential, strategic, and capital-intensive.  They are much needed programs, but they are not cycle-stabilizing policies. And they cannot guarantee an employment opportunity to the last person who hasn’t found a decent paying job, but wants one. Only the Job Guarantee can.

But low capital intensity projects are in great shortage, can vary with the mood swings of the economy, and are not make-work.

WE NEED TO GET MORE THINGS DONE THAN WE HAVE POPLE TO DO THEM

The private sector is simply not in the business of satisfying unmet basic needs or providing employment for everyone. But once most basic needs are met, will there be enough work for the JG participants to do? I’m convinced, yes. As Warren Mosler says, “There is no limit to the ways we can serve one another”.

My worry is that even if we mobilized everyone who wanted to work in a private and public initiative, there would still not be enough manpower to do all the things that we sorely need—especially concerning the environment.

Take the Hudson Valley for example where I live and work.  The Hudson River and local parks and preserves are struggling with several invasive species (water chestnut and zebra mussel), fundamentally altering the ecology of the estuary and the natural habitat of the Valley. And while my community and friends, volunteers and non-profits, have been hard at work preserving and restoring the the Valley, one crucial thing is missing: large-scale funding and many, many more helping hands.

Learning to identify the invasive plants and removing them is mostly done by community members and school groups on volunteer basis. Other area projects include eel and herring monitoring, building hiking trails, cleaning parks, removing trash—all low-cost, tow-tech, and high-labor-intensity tasks that bring many environmental and social benefits. And they literally only require gloves, fishing nets, and rakes. The work is flexible and year-round.

And this is just one example that that can provide jobs to thousands of unemployed people from the entire Hudson Valley on ongoing basis for decades to come. (Elsewhere, I discuss how the JG can solve the “food desert” problem).

The neighboring city of Newburgh–once the jewel of modern technological achievement was the first electrified city in the United States, showcasing the glory that electrification would bring the nation and the world. (Electrification–the offspring of private ingenuity brought to our doorsteps courtesy of large scale government investment). Today Newburgh’s housing stock – a rare collection of historical architecture – is crumbling and needs to be restored and preserved. After years of neglect and severe austerity, the city is slowly turning a corner mostly because of impressive community revitalization efforts. But unemployment remains a pressing problem. What is needed? Large-scale funding and many, many more helping hands.

Most communities throughout the US can benefit from countless ongoing public service, environmental, after-school and care projects. And the unemployed need the restoration of their human worth.

As Bernie Sanders’ himself put it in his 2011 8-hour Senate floor speech:

“Human beings want to be productive… They want to be a part of something. They want to go to work, earn a paycheck, bring it home. You feel good about that.

Do you know what it does to somebody’s sense of human worth when suddenly you find yourself at home …[and] you can’t go out and earn a living. It destroys people… That’s what unemployment is about.” (112-113)

Good intensions rarely stand in the way of good economic policies—but lack of conviction and political will do. When it comes to the Job Guarantee, we can also use a bit of imagination.

Sanders is already changing the conversation about what is politically possible. Adding the Job Guarantee to his issues will solidify his unapologetically bold and sorely needed progressive agenda.

8/13/2015

SOME ADDITIONAL LINKS

  • For various explanations of the JG, see here, here, here and here
  • Here and here, I argue that we need to scale up what is already done successfully by nonprofits and social enterprises as one way of implementing the Job Guarantee
  • Here and here I explain why the JG can be especially beneficial to poor women
  • On the JG as a means to addressing racial injustice and inequality see here and here
  • For more on the Job Guarantee’s Green Jobs approach, see here
  • On child poverty and the Job Guarantee, see here
  • Why the JG delivers the benefits that a Basic Income Grant only promises and why a JG-BIG combination is the way to go, here and here. Also see Tony Atkinson’s endorsement of the JG-participation income policy here
  • I make the case for a Youth Job Guarantee (I call it YESYouth Employment Security)
  • Why the conventional methods of securing full employment have failed, here and here
  • How the JG enhances the private sector, here

24 Responses to Why Bernie Sanders Should Add a Job Guarantee to His Policy Agenda

  1. Steven Greenberg

    I am also waiting for Bernie Sanders to let loose on the stuff that Stephanie Kelton must be trying to teach him. I am not sure that the American people are ready to hear that “where is the money going to come from” is a silly question to ask a government like ours that is sovereign in its own currency (and lot’s of other factors).

    So Bernie probably can’t come right out and say that. Perhaps he needs to start paving the way by stop using the phrase that some new programs of his is “paid for” by tax increases on the wealthy. Tax increases on the wealthy are sorely needed, but nor to “pay for” his programs. We do need to sop up some of that $29 trillion of liquidity that the Fed pumped into the system. So much liquidity sloshing around under the matresses of the wealthy, and in the stock market bubble are bound to cause real harm when we start using government liquidity to rebuild the infrastructure, make some higher education free of tuition, invest in research, and provide a job guarantee. We do need to halt any further distribution of wealth and income upward (or at least slow it to less than a trickle).

  2. Right. Jobs not Welfare. I can see him attracting some GOP votes even.

  3. There is one vital point missing from the JG literature that should be made far more explicit. It is implied but you have to squint.

    That point is this:

    In the normal job selection process, first a job is created and then the matching system looks for people to match to that job. Once you get to the margins you end up with jobs that cannot be filled and people that cannot get jobs. You have a matching problem. That can only be resolved so far via training and job redesign and you always end up with a list of vacancies and a list of unemployed people.

    The job guarantee is different. You take the person as they are and you find/build a job for them. You are guaranteeing a match because you have to get the person employed as a function of the program, so coming up with jobs is part of the process.

    And that is the key issue. Standard employment can only provide people for the jobs. It takes a Job Guarantee to provide Jobs for the People.

  4. I agree a Jobs Guarantee program is sorely needed, and would not be as large as many would expect because large economic swings would be a thing of the past. However, the political realities are—that about half the nation or more do not want the public sector competing with the private sector for labor. There are many industries with inelastic pricing. Already 75% of all new businesses are not around after 5 years. If we make it anymore difficult for businesses to succeed, then less people will take the risk for a better life (and won’t create private sector jobs.) Because of this, the only realistic political reality is to crawl-walk-run meaning ELR short term transition jobs first-medium term public projects next-and finally longer-term public projects. As the economy conservatively stands up, and the private sector bids up labor in a more sustainable fashion—the political fight between liberals and conservatives can tackle what public projects are needed, and what the wages for that need be. There is much less risk but still a vast reward for a JG program that puts those most at risk in our society back to work, albeit at minimum wage. To try and run before crawling will simply prolong the suffering of those who need transitional jobs the most. Compromise seems the most prudent political choice. Wouldn’t a smaller initial JG still succeed? Wouldn’t it have a better chance of becoming law sooner? This may be more politics than economics. Small businesses will be the first beneficiaries of those newly employed, and they are a very powerful political force. Maybe the most powerful—and possibly the game changer.

  5. Without understanding that the money comes from the state not the coffers of the rich it won’t sell. People will say: “yeah so we want rich people to fund cleaning of state and local parks”

  6. Bernie is being advised by one of the best economists from UMKC, Dr Stephanie Kelton.
    Maybe she believes that proposing too many changes now would be overload.

  7. Gregory Long

    One disagreement I have is that the article implies that the job guarantee should specialize in low-tech work such as that which “literally only require gloves, fishing nets, and rakes.” I think there is room to also include high-skill-high-tech work. In an earlier article on this site, Fadhel Kaboub proposed “a three-tier JG wage structure such that skilled workers earn $21/hour, semi-skilled workers earn $18/hour, and unskilled workers earn $15/hour.”

    Having the higher pay grades would allow the JG to address underemployment as well as unemployment. For example, I read that only one in four recent STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduates is employed in a STEM field, even when the definition of STEM is expanded to include work such as air conditioning repair. Recent STEM graduates might be employed full time, but many of these full-time jobs are still at places like Walmart and McDonald’s.

    These higher-wage JG positions could still be flexible enough to allow workers to move in and out of the private sector with the ups and downs of the business cycle. For example, private businesses are hesitant to provide much funding for applied R&D as well as basic R&D. In a recession, STEM graduates could work in government-pilot-factories that build and develop the protocols to reduce the manufacturing costs of cutting- edge products such as photovoltaic cells and lithium-ion batteries. Once the economy expands, these workers could move to private factories that make use of the published protocols for large-scale production.

    • That’s a great comment; I think it gets at exactly the issue. Do we want a system where public policy says some workers are more valuable than others. Not because the jobs are more difficult or more dangerous. Simply because some workers have ‘higher’ skills while other workers have ‘lower’ skills.

      And what is notable is that even that high wage proposal of $21/hr is much less than what the top non-JG professors, doctors, lawyers, bankers, and other public officials make.

    • “Having the higher pay grades would allow the JG to address underemployment as well as unemployment.”

      You don’t have higher pay grades.

      Jobs are provided for the people and in times of severe stress or simply if people want them then high skilled jobs will be provided.

      But the JG is an equal pay employer. All individuals sell their time at the same rate regardless of what they do. If you want a job with a higher reward, then you need to apply for a normal public sector job or find one to your liking in the private sector.

    • A semantic, logical point- The Job Guarantee is a GUARANTEE. There could be other “skilled” jobs provided through the JG administration, sure. But they won’t be JG jobs – even if they are called “JG” jobs. The JG wage is, must be the lowest wage, the one that anyone can get. KISS is a really important concept. The JG addresses underemployment automatically, by increasing demand and therefore employment outside the JG program – which would can be larger than the direct employment boost.

      I do agree that one can overemphasize what type of work the JG engages in, and providing other examples may seemingly exclude “infrastructure” type that everyone knows & loves. I’ve been saying for a long time that our MMT heroes have been providing too many details, not too few. The important thing is the concept, the principle, which is where all the misunderstandings, confusions and misguided objections based on them come from. The devil is NOT in the details. The details are for each different society to implement, and once people actually understand the JG (& MMT), which can take a long time, years, they are easy. But just because something is simple or trivial or easy doesn’t mean it is obvious. Often it is the kind of idea that takes centuries or millennia to grasp, but can soon after be taught to schoolchildren.

      Washunate: Do we want a system where public policy says some workers are more valuable than others.
      Well, most all modern societies have this kind of pay differentiation. It’s not up to you or me; it’s up to society as a whole. I would be happy with a society with the only public jobs at the JG wage- The entire government being the JG. This is the minimum for a sane society. Or I would be happy with a JG plus some higher paying government jobs. But it really isn’t all that important. Real, major problems are caused by the lack of living wage jobs, not different pay of government jobs – at best minor importance to almost anything – not really notable. The important thing is to have a JG, which is more important and more beneficial than just about every other “social program” put together. Unfortunately, outside MMT nearly the only people who understand the accounting and the economics correctly are 0.1%er “economic royalists” who have been fighting common sense, common decency = the JG tooth & nail as Tcherneva says, forever.

  8. I wonder why Obama, with less than two more years in office suddenly add a “Job Guarantee” to his mode of operation. Is this ridiculous? Perhaps, but no more than asking a candidate, who presumably will make the decision to pursue a “Job Guarantee” after an election, that potentially will allow him or her to do so.

    I’m not playing dumb here, the arguments above for a job guarantee is compelling and convincing at least to a lay reader such as myself. But people who vote base their decisions on mundane topicality, such as, he or perhaps she, looks like someone I could enjoy a beer with.

    While it is unlikely we’ll read a column taking issue with a system of money rigged referendums – that calls itself Democracy – on NEP – looking to a future elections as a time for better ideas strikes this reader as defeatism and cynical disempowerment that many associate with the professional left.

  9. Spassapparat

    Prof. Tcherneva,

    I’m an admirer of your work, and for other reasons, agree on the issue of job guarantee vs income guaranteed with you as well.

    However, in all the articles I have read by you, I could not figure out why you think BIG is inflationary and JG is not.

    Both lead to substantial increases in demand. Now the economy is demand constrained so could probably relatively easily ramp up production, but if you argue that it cannot and that is why companies will choose to increase prices rather than production (Keynes’ notion of ‘pure inflation’), I cannot see a reason why a BIG demand boom should lead to these increased prices but a JG demand boom should not.

    Likelier, there would be a supply side effect. Both the JG as well as the BIG would in effect work like a substantial increase in the minimum wage – you yourself call the JG a wage floor. BIG would also supposedly cause firms to have to increase wages substantially to give people an incentive to continue to work although they have already secured their livelihood through BIG. Now various studies have shown that the inflationary consequences of a minimum wage increase is relatively minor – and would probably subside pretty quickly as companies invest in labor replacing machinery. But once again, I don’t see where the exact difference is between the effect of JG and of BIG.
    You argue that with the imposition of BIG there would be a mass exodus away from bad low paying jobs, reducing production, reducing supply of goods and hence increasing prices. With the imposition of JG, there should be the same effect – in fact it is one of the goals of the JG to force companies to provide decent working conditions and good pay for low-income people. So for both cases, if BIG or JG is put into law in secrecy, without any time for firms to adjust, supposedly there will be a large drop in production. If firms are given a heads up however, they will probably talk to their employees, raise wages, improve working conditions, and keep people employed, with no drop in production, or actually, as already argued above, an increase in production as demand increases. over the medium term, companies, in both cases, will probably decide to invest in labor saving machinery, which will set a lot of labor free, which would not be a problem in either cases.

    You argue that JG is inherently antinflationary since it provides a buffer stock of available workers in boom times, ensuring that workers cannot push up wages too far, as well as ensuring that deflation can also not happen, as workers can always find a job at the JG wage. Now, with respect to the latter, BIG would also be an anchor against deflation – presumably there will be wage bottoms for most jobs, although not explicit as in a JG, in a BIG as well. Now, presumably the self-employed people in a BIG can be the same buffer stock that the employed people in JG would be, also ensuring that the wage demands in a boom of people in the private sector cannot go too crazy. And if they can, then I don’t see a reason why they cannot do it in the JG system. Supposedly, as a boom goes on, the JG pool could completely deplete, giving workers in the private sector a lot of bargaining power that could then lead to a wage price spiral, just like a continued boom in a BIG system could also push wages up.

    Finally, one could argue that JG reduces company costs since there would be investments in transportation and the like – but those are exactly the kinds of public works projects that are probably different to administer through a JG program because of the transitory nature of the employees that would be working in these programs. The examples you give in the piece, while certainly worthy of being done, do not reduce company costs and hence there is not anything that can be passed on. And even if it were possible to do public works programs like new bridges, roads, etc. in a JG program, companies will not necessarily pass the cost reductions on to the end consumer.

    I dont believe that either of the programs will be very inflationary, but if prices because of the demand and/or supply side effect are expected to increase substantially, I don’t understand why this does not also put pressure on the administration of a JG program. Somewhere you write that price increases would lead to public demands to increase the BIG since the BIG does not cover living expenses anymore, leading to a higher BIG, leading to even bigger inflation etc. Why shouldnt there be, just like the BIG-price spiral just outlined, also be a wage-price spiral? If inflation rises, JG wages will not cover living expenses anymore, leading to higher demands for wages etc.

  10. Pavlina,

    Thank you for including the link on green jobs. I think the biggest question facing economists is the following: How can we achieve full employment without causing carbon emissions to rise?

    Thanks,
    Tyler

  11. financial matters

    Thanks for this excellent overview.

  12. If part of existing transfer payments are used, and there is simply a re-configuration to use in Jobs Guarantee, then it can’t be inflationary.

    If additional new money is used, then targeting education, transportation, distribution, … things that putting money in will lower the system wide costs of production, then this can also be non-inflationary.

  13. Hello Professor,

    I noticed you cross-posted at NC but didn’t want comments there. Are you wanting feedback on how this comes off to people who aren’t JG advocates, or is this meant specifically for people who already back a JG?

    In case it is the former, to be concise, this post doesn’t actually address the principled and logistical concerns. It doesn’t describe who would manage these projects, how much the JG jobs would pay relative to non JG jobs, who is eligible for JG employment, or how much actual employment would be needed if we are really going to solve the social problems outlined here via work in the formal economy rather than via social insurance or BIG/UBI.

    There are a lot more than 20 million people who want decent jobs for decent wages. Six million people alone are currently under supervision of our criminal justice system. Millions more are ex-offenders. Beyond that, most of the jobs in the US today are crap jobs where workers have little influence over their working conditions and don’t make enough money to support a middle class lifestyle. That is tens of millions of people on top of the 20 million referenced in the post.

    Why not just raise the minimum wage, reduce the work week, and implement universal health insurance and universal unemployment insurance? That addresses the problem of lack of income without having to create an administrative HR infrastructure to handle constant churning of millions of FTEs through a JG system. And without the environmental impact of doing yet more aggregate work. This post doesn’t make a case for why we need more aggregate hours worked in the formal economy rather than a different distribution of those hours. It simply asserts as true that we need many more helping hands than we have. On the contrary, I would suggest we have enormous amounts of wasted human labor in healthcare, national security, finance, law, education, housing, transportation, and elsewhere that could be reassigned to more productive pursuits. The drug war alone is a massive destroyer of communities, and that is just one specific policy.

    I’m all for preserving wilderness areas. So let’s transfer people from TSA to do that. I’m all for viewing making sure everybody can go to the doctor as a human right. So let’s separate healthcare from employment (indeed, a single payer system, rather than an employment-based system, is one of the things Sanders has been talking about that is widely popular). I’m all for eliminating the ridiculously inefficient systems of ‘welfare’ we have today. So let’s replace that with direct cash payments to people most in need of currency units. I’m all for driving a stake through current power interests. So let’s stop using public policy to support financial fraudsters and the national security state and agribusiness and fossil fuels and pharmaceuticals and so on. I’m all for ending inequality. So let’s actually do that, paying all public employees similar wages for a similar amount of work, from economists and football coaches to home health aides and preschool teachers.

    You don’t have to agree with the perspective that less is more. I’m just observing that this article doesn’t address that perspective. The promise of productivity, of innovation, of human progress is that we can work less in aggregate. That’s the whole point of prosperity, to obtain “enough” material wealth so that instead of spending more time on the job, we can take vacations and be in school and enjoy retirement and volunteer in the community and garden and visit the grandparents and hike the mountains and cook and get lost in the library and walk the dog and do all the other things that are a more satisfying use of time than going to work for someone else.

  14. Clonal Antibody

    There was another tangential article that came out, which has relevance to Sanders free education, as well as the affordability question. This is the article – The Town That Decided to Send All Its Kids to College

    Think of what could have been accomplished by this town with an MMT oriented Federal government. What this highlights is – “Where there is a will, there is a way” – and we have to build an environment where there is a will to accomplish great things for the whole society, and not just for the individual.

  15. Sarah Collins

    Unfortunately, jobs are welfare. We seem to be hedging a folksy right wing perspective with a job guarantee.
    It’s simply a new way of saying “everybody’s got to work.” Which is similar to saying everybody has to do something that pleases authority, before they are deserved of basic needs. This is the old school viciousness of conservatives, repacked in a “we’re going to get you work”.

    There are in fact, more people, than there are things to do. By defining the need for jobs, you are hiding some far more obscure questions about capitalism. Right now we do have welfare. Defense contractors, for example, contracting with the Federal Government remarkably contributes to inequality. These folks are wealthier than bankers. Why don’t we bother to define what jobs it is we are going to guarantee? Would it show that the way some people, like Warren Mosler, have earned outrageous amounts hardly has anything to do with fairness, or work.

    • How can you say that there more people than jobs to do? When you hear about children failing to be protected by the Department of Children and Families in Massachusetts, it is because the case workers are too overloaded with work to do what needs to be done to check on all the children they are responsible for protecting. There must be some way we can use JG to supplement these efforts. There are old folk, and disabled folk who need help. JG people could give that help. Just use your imagination to see all the work that needs doing that we claim we can’t afford to have done.

  16. It is illogical, at best, and in bad faith at worst, to claim, on the basis of the square root of zero evidence, “It’s simply a new way of saying “everybody’s got to work.”

    No, it is not. At all. A job guarantee, i.e. the recognition of a RIGHT to remunerative work is not in the least equivalent to an OBLIGATION to work.

    Give it a rest.

  17. Jerry Hamrick

    @Sarah Collins: I agree with you. Well, I don’t know anything about Warren Mosler, but I agree with the rest of what you said. If we really do have an unlimited supply of money, then we should use it. We shouldn’t nibble around the edges of our problems. If money will solve them, then let’s do it.

  18. At the heart of the issue is that we live in a high productivity economy. And as robotic production expands, more joblessness results, and more transfer payments. So there are more people employable than demand by employers, and productivity is high enough that the unemployed are provided for in food, clothing, shelter, education, health care,… So this issue will not go away, it will expand as robotics expands.

  19. And it seems that the high productivity issue & robotics could frustrate Warren Mosler’s argument about unemployment being the evidence that the deficit is too small. (In addition to the non-homogeneity of the private sector, which means that the channels that deficit spending go in frustrate Mosler’s concept, along with other policy mix of the federal government.)

    http://moslereconomics.com/2015/08/22/krugman-on-debt/

    Krugman:… “… Believe it or not, many economists argue that the economy needs a sufficient amount of debt out there to function well.”

    Mosler: “Yes, to offset desires to not spend income (save) when private sector borrowing to spend isn’t sufficient, as evidenced by unemployment.”

    Krugman: “And how much is sufficient? Maybe more than we currently have. That is, there’s a reasonable argument to be made that part of what ails the world economy right now is that governments aren’t deep enough in debt.”

    Mosler: “Yes, it’s called unemployment, which is the evidence that deficit spending is insufficient to offset desires to not spend income. Something economists have know by identity for at least 300 years.”

    Krugman: “I know that may sound crazy. After all, we’ve spent much of the past five or six years in a state of fiscal panic, with all the Very Serious People declaring that we must slash deficits and reduce debt now now now or we’ll turn into Greece, Greece I tell you.”

    &c.

    Simply increasing the deficit won’t work, with existing policies, and the kind of policies we have seen in the past, because the spending channels don’t target unemployment, they target profitability in the private sector, according to Minsky type analysis.

    So the kind of program described by Warren Mosler in Argentina which targets unemployment, and employable skills, instead of profitability is more suitable. Unemployment is more the evidence that other policy mix is not right, than simply the deficit is too small. But you wind up back at the high productivity/robotics issue anyway, which expands unemployment.