By J.D. ALT
Note: This essay was first posted on realprogressivesusa.com
Now that progressive leaders (Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand and Corey Booker) have placed a proposed “Job Guarantee” program onto the mainstream political stage, it is essential they begin explaining the proposal’s underpinning macro-economic logic. Otherwise they lay themselves, and the proposal itself, wide open to scathing public ridicule—as exemplified by a recent Megan McArdle op-ed in the Washington Post (“A federal job for everyone?” April 25, 2018). But what should they be saying by way of explaining?
Perhaps a point-by-point response to Ms. McArdle’s arguments is a way to begin. First, her title itself is an intentionally misleading—and pejorative—portrayal of the proposal. The Job Guarantee (JG) program will use federal dollars to pay wages, but few (if any) of the wage earners would become part of a federal bureaucracy that most Americans believe is already over-bloated and inefficient. Think instead of all the private doctors and nurses paid federal dollars to provide health-care services to Medicaid and Medicare patients; think of all the private enterprise farmers, food-processors and distributors who are paid federal dollars to implement the SNAP (food-stamp) program; think of the millions of private defense contractor employees who build ships, planes, and missiles. Ms. McArdle is being disingenuous in planting the idea that everyone who is paid with federal dollars is a federal employee; it’s an idea that immediately discredits the JG program, and it should be proactively discredited itself.
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.
NEP’s Pavlina Tcherneva appeared on David Packman’s show yesterday (1/21/2014) discussing job guarantee programs. You can view the video below.
By L. Randall Wray
“It was obdurate government callousness to misery that first stoked the flames of rage and frustration. With unemployment a scourge in Negro ghettoes, the government still tinkers with half-hearted measures, refuses still to become an employer of last resort. It asks the business community to solve the problems as though its past failures qualified it for success.” –Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his last letter requesting support for the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”
In recent days, the Job Guarantee has been thrust into public discussion, thanks in large part to Jesse Myerson’s Rolling Stone article—see here.
By Pavlina Tcherneva
Slate’s Matt Yglesias is out with another caricature of post on the Job Guarantee (JG) and, guess what? He still doesn’t like what he sees. He’s all for guaranteeing income to people who can’t find jobs, but he’s opposed to making receipt of that money “conditional on performing make-work labor for the government.” As one of the leading proponents of the JG, let me say this for the nth time: THE JOB GUARANTEE IS NOT ‘MAKE-WORK.’ This is not a reaction to Yglesias but a core principle of the earliest literature on the Job Guarantee (e.g., here, here and here). There is no way that anyone familiar with even a sliver of the vast collection of books, articles, essays, working papers, policy briefs and blog posts on the JG could, in good faith, continue to claim that the JG is “make-work.”
By Pavlina Tcherneva
Matt Yglesias has written a post that has the words ‘Job Guarantee’ (JG) in the title but has nothing to do with the actual JG proposal.
He begins by asking readers to imagine that:
“…instead of handing out welfare checks and food stamps to these bums, we should make everyone who wants public assistance show up daily at a rally-point to be contracted out to do street-cleaning work. Think parolees sentenced to community service…”
Unfortunately for him, that’s not the Job Guarantee and we have debunked such silly caricatures many times (e.g., here, here and here). Unfortunately for his readers, he is either unfamiliar with the most basic literature on the JG, or is deliberately misleading them. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s the former.
NEP’s Pavlina Tcherneva appears in the following video by Rebecca Rojer. The video condenses a lecture by Pavlina explaining what a job guarantee is, its economic impact, and what we can learn from her research on the Jefes (“Heads of Households”) Program in Argentina.
By Pavlina R. Tcherneva
Jesse Myerson created a firestorm over mainstream media with his Rolling Stone piece “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For”. I’d like to address the very first of these reforms, the Job Guarantee (JG), as Myerson references my proposal for running the program through the non-profit sector and discussed it in several interviews on Tuesday.
Last month, I did a podcast with him about this program. Let me focus on some questions that keep popping up about the proposal, e.g., Josh Barro’s Business Insider piece.