A group of academics has published an article in the socialist publication Jacobin in which they advocate for a “federal job guarantee.” This proposal entails a guaranteed minimal income of $23,000 per year and “rising to a mean of $32,500” to people who do not have jobs. This money would come, of course, from tax payers who do have jobs, most of whom can ill-afford the tax burden this “spread the wealth” scheme entails.
This idea has been batted around by socialists (and communists) for decades and is again rearing its ugly head.
Jacobin magazine—named for the blood-thirsty, failed French revolutionaries who slaughtered over 40,000 people in less than a year—is a publication devoted to socialist thought and celebrated by progressive outlets such as Vox.
Is it any wonder that this socialist publication would publish an article that articulates the idea of resurrecting some incarnation of FDR’s failed “Works Progress Administration” (WPA), a program that likely prolonged the Great Depression?
According to the authors of “Why We Need a Federal Job Guarantee,” a “federal job guarantee” would give “everyone a job”and is “the best way to democratize the economy and give workers leverage in the workplace.”
Universal basic income (UBI), an annual government-sponsored payment to all citizens, has been gaining traction across the American political landscape. Andy Stern, former Service Employees International Union president, believes the program will counteract the “acceleration of technology” that he thinks will likely create “work but not reliable jobs or incomes.” On the Right, the American Enterprise Institute’s Charles Murray argues that we should replace the “entire bureaucratic apparatus of government social workers” with a UBI.
. . . . The renewed attention makes sense: UBI would cover workers who, thanks to technological progress, have lost their jobs. One often-cited report tells us that 47 percent of all jobs are at risk of being automated. Yet existing social insurance programs are insufficient. The current array of programs — such as unemployment insurance, the earned income tax credit, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — help many Americans, but over forty-three million people still live below the poverty line. Children are among the most vulnerable, with nearly half living at or near poverty.
The UBI represents one way to fight increasing deprivation. But another potential intervention — the federal job guarantee (FJG) — might be a far more promising demand.
Following their introduction, the authors go on to list why this proposal is a good idea. After noting that a federally-guaranteed (i.e tax payer funded) “salary” of $23,000 would mean “fewer poor Americans,” that workers are still needed for (presumably private sector) jobs that are not yet automated, and that this would lead to an “inclusive economy” where people (Harry Reid’s cowboy poets?) wouldn’t be left behind, the authors explain that a federal “works” program like that instituted during the Great Depression would be a boon to Americans who are looking for work.
During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were public employment programs designed to put Americans back to work after the national unemployment rate reached 25 percent. These programs, implemented under the Roosevelt administration, provided socially beneficial goods and services that benefited all Americans. Some of our national parks — Zion, Glacier, and Shenandoah — received substantial work contributions from employees of the federal jobs programs. The Blue Ridge Parkway was a federally funded and staffed infrastructure program.
A new federal job guarantee could undertake similarly bold and much-needed public-works projects.
Because the private market is not providing jobs, they argue, the federal government should invent occupations for them and then pay them with tax payer dollars. Essentially, then, the federal government creates “work” for people who are otherwise unemployable and pays them a salary to do this “work.”
This idea includes not only a base salary but also health benefits and child care, benefits that a lot of the tax payers who would be footing the bill for this do not enjoy.
Each job offered under a federal employment assurance would be at a wage rate above the poverty threshold, and would include benefits like health insurance. A public sector job guarantee would establish a quality of work and the level of compensation offered for all jobs.
The program would be great for the country: It could meet a wide range of the nation’s physical and human infrastructure needs, ranging from the building and maintenance of roads, bridges and highways, to school upkeep and the provision of quality child care services. It would also function as an automatic stabilizer, a program that could expand with downturns of the economy and contract with upturns.
One of the authors of this article appeared on Tucker’s show and explained the proposal.
This plan is not intended to replace welfare, food stamps, etc. It’s an add-on aimed at those who are unemployed and who want to work but can’t find a job.
The question, of course, is how much responsibility does the federal government have—should it have—over the lives of individual Americans? Should the federal government create jobs and “works” programs for citizens at the expense of other citizens?DONATE
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