Thursday, December 28, 2017

What Sounds Better To You-- Guaranteed Basic Income Or Federal Job Guarantee


I love learning new stuff and this cycle Blue America is backing some really smart candidates with some excellent ideas. Every time I speak with milllennial political leaders like state Rep Kaniela Ing (HI) and former Treasury Department economist Austin Frerick (IA), for example, I feel like I’m learning something new. And because of some of their ideas, I’ve been in touch with economic policy experts Stephanie Kelton and Pavlina Tcherneva. I feel like I get smarter each time I interact with either one of them. It was Kaniela who first raised the question with me about the pros and cons between Universal Basic Income (UBI) and Job Guarantee (JG), something many of the Blue America candidates have been discussing as well. One of them turned me on to a year old Jacobin piece, Why We Need a Federal Job Guarantee by academics Mark Paul, William Darity and Darrick Hamilton.

They never call UBI a trap and they point out many of the positive aspects, like with this Robert Reich video from just before the 2016 election. They don’t even denigrate the idea by pointing out many of the flaws behind Silicon Valley’s enthusiasm for it.

But in the end Paul, Darity and Hamilton come out-- as have Kelton and Tcherneva-- on the side of JG. “A job guarantee,” wrote Paul, Darity and Hamilton, “is not a new idea. It has been part of the American conversation at least since populist governor Huey Long put forth his Share Our Wealth Plan. In 1934, he argued that the United States should use public works to ensure “everybody [is] employed.” These calls were echoed by politicians from Roosevelt in his Economic Bill of Rights to George McGovern during his 1972 presidential bid. Martin Luther King also stumped for a job guarantee, demanding immediate ‘employment for everyone in need of a job.’ He saw ‘a guaranteed annual income at levels that sustain life and decent circumstances’ as the second-best option. Here are five reasons to agree with him.”
1- A Job Guarantee Means Fewer Poor Americans

A job guarantee would reduce poverty more quickly and provide more benefits than a UBI. To ensure a sufficient income, we argue for a FJG that would pay a minimum annual wage of at least $23,000 (the poverty line for a family of four), rising to a mean of $32,500. This would eliminate the “working poor” for full-time working households. In addition to the wage, workers in the FJG program would receive health insurance and pension benefits in line with those that all civil servants and elected federal officials receive.

In comparison, many of the UBI proposals promise around $10,000 annually to every citizen (for an example, see Charles Murray’s proposal here). On the one hand, this plan would break the link between employment and money. But it does so at half the rate that would be available under the FJG, not even considering lifesaving benefits like health insurance.

2- The Robots Haven’t Taken Over Yet. We Still Need Workers.

The dangers of imminent full automation are overstated: there is little evidence that companies are largely replacing human workers with robots. As Dean Baker explains,
If technology were rapidly displacing workers then productivity growth-- the rate of increase in the value of goods and services produced in an hour of work-- should be very high, because machines are more efficient. In the last decade, however, productivity growth has risen at a sluggish 1.4 percent annual rate. In the last two years it has limped along at a pace of less than 1 percent annually. By comparison, in the post–World War II “Golden Age,” from 1947 to 1973, productivity grew at an annual rate of almost 3 percent.
No doubt, stable and high-paid employment opportunities are dwindling, but we shouldn’t blame the robots. Workers aren’t being replaced by automatons; they are being replaced with other workers— ones lower-paid and more precariously employed. Nevertheless, technology, and globalization, have struck fear into American workers.

Not because they are by nature a raw deal, but because the balance of forces over the last few decades has been skewed so dramatically in the favor of capital. Technology, nor globalization, need have negative employment effects on workers-- but they certainly can. It’s time to get the rules right, and ensure workers are provided the dignity of a job. A federal job program would solve the real problem, while UBI would simply treat a side effect.

3- A FJG Could Build An Inclusive Economy.

Conventional wisdom holds s that people dislike work. Introductory economics classes will explain the disutility of labor, which is a direct trade-off with leisure. Granted, employment isn’t always fun, and many forms of employment are dangerous and exploitative. But the UBI misses the way in which employment structurally empowers workers at the point of production and has by its own merits positive dimensions.

This touches on a heated debate on the Left. But for now, there is no doubt that people want jobs, but they want good jobs that provide flexibility and opportunity. They want to contribute, to have a purpose, to participate in the economy and, most importantly, in society. Nevertheless, the private sector continues to leave millions without work, even during supposed “strong” economic times.

The workplace is social, a place where we spend a great deal of our time interacting with others. In addition to the stress associated with limited resources, the loneliness that plagues many unemployed workers can exacerbate mental health problems. Employment-- especially employment that provides added social benefits like communal coffee breaks-- adds to workers’ well-being and productivity. A federal job guarantee can provide workers with socially beneficial employment-- providing the dignity of a job to all that seek it.

The FJG would also act as a de facto wage floor-- private employers will have to offer wages and benefits at least as enticing as the federal government to attract workers. There has been extensive public support for recent increases in the minimum wage, such as the Fight for $15 campaign, demonstrating that most Americans believe workers deserve a living wage. Fighting for a higher minimum wage is an important step to ensure that workers are compensated a living wage rather than a poverty wage, yet let us not forget that the effective minimum wage in this country without a UBI or a job guarantee is $0. This must change.

Finally, some argue that a “skills mismatch” explains why some workers remain unemployed. While we reject that narrative, a well-designed FJG will nevertheless include a training element to build workers’ skills and a jobs ladder to create upward mobility in the workplace.

All of these elements will build an inclusive economy that provides good jobs for all. The UBI, in contrast, could subsidize bad jobs-- allowing low minimum wages and lack of benefits to persist.

4- Federal Jobs Could Provide Socially Useful Goods And Services.

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.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United States a D+ in infrastructure and prices necessary repairs at $3.6 trillion. This lack of investment has lowered employment rates, cost businesses sales, and reduced incomes for American families. Make no mistake, these are government choices. They could choose instead to hire unemployed workers to repair bridges, maintain roadways, and update power grids.

Likewise, Bill McKibben just called for us to “declare war” against climate change. With climate change being perhaps the largest threat to our well-being, bold action is needed. The job guarantee program would create the capacity to do just that. Professor Robert Pollin of the Political Economy Research Institute calls for scaling up the transition to a green economy, which would create millions of new jobs along the way. He and his colleagues estimate what a Green New Deal would look like, and find that a transition to a green economy would amount to an estimated $200 billion in investment annually, resulting in a drop in “US emission by 40 percent within 20 years, while creating a net increase of 2.7 million jobs.” In part, this is due to the labor-intensive nature of energy efficiency and other “green” investments.

Additional services, when combined with a FJG, would save average American households thousands, if not tens of thousands, a year. According to the Economic Policy Institute, for example, tuition-free and universal child care and education-- staffed by FJG workers-- would trim an average of $22,631 annually from families’ budgets in expensive places such as DC while saving households in places like Arkansas a more modest $5,995 on average.

To be sure, a UBI would free up time to volunteer, to care for sick relatives, or to start small businesses. Additionally, the UBI would finally provide greater financial freedom to those that choose to stay at home and engage in care work-- disproportionately provided by women. However, the FJG has the ability to provide high quality services, such as child care and elder care, that would greatly reduce the care burden, providing more choice while building on the current social safety net.

5- It’ll Stabilize The Economy

A FJG would bring us much closer to actual full employment, not the neoclassical full employment that subjectively allows for some optimal frictional unemployment. Most contemporary economists rely on the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU) to calculate this less-than-full full employment artificial statistic which functions as a disciplinary tool of the bourgeoisie, but this, according to Roger Farmer is “an idea past its sell-by date.”

By full employment, we mean simply that everyone seeking a job gets one. We’d wager that if you asked the average American what full employment means to them, they’d give you a similar answer-- a job for all. Indeed, a plurality of Americans will also tell you they support a FJG.

The UBI would likely still leave a substantial segment of the population in poverty. As Belgian philosopher Philippe Van Parijs, one of the most prominent UBI advocates, acknowledged, even a large payment through the UBI won’t necessarily secure a comfortable living for all citizens. How about those without jobs, or those who earn below subsistence wages? Of course, a UBI coupled with a non-poverty wage option and strong unionization could seriously combat poverty. The UBI would eliminate the effective minimum wage of $0 currently offered in the United States, though it would fail to provide adequate employment for all that demanded it-- a crucial shortfall of such a program.

A FJG is a sounder mechanism to combat structural inequalities, for instance through closing the persistent unemployment gap experienced by stigmatized groups who face continued discrimination. (Note, since 1972 unemployment has average double digits for black workers and has never fallen below 7 percent-- a level that is only reached during times of economic crisis-- for white workers).

Further, the FJG will have a strong macroeconomic stabilization effect. During economic downturns, it would expand and hire more people; it would then shrink during economic boom periods as people move from public to better-paying private employment. Pavlina R. Tcherneva, a leading voice on the FJG’s macroeconomic effects, argues that policies like the UBI have no counter-cyclical features. Thus, when the economy takes a downturn-- say as it did in 2007-- basic incomes provide no automatic stabilizers to right the sinking ship.

This is good for the economy as a whole. Rather than expanding the unemployment insurance rolls during economic busts, the FJG would put folks to work and moderate the business cycle. Federal workers’ paychecks will increase demand, which will increase economic growth. Many economists agree that today’s secular stagnation-- insufficient demand-- is contributing to continued “lackluster” growth after the Great Recession. Only modest upticks in growth for the foreseeable future will come if we continue the status quo.

Finally, as a less costly program a FJG might be easier for a future left government to enact. Some estimate that basic income could easily cost more than $3 trillion each year, while others say it will only come to $2.7 trillion. The FJG, on the other hand, will cost orders of magnitude less. Even if we conservatively guess that fifteen million unemployed workers need jobs, funding the FJG would take about $750 billion.

We want to build an inclusive economy. The FJG will build an economy that serves the working class more efficiently and effectively than the UBI.

The benefits will be immediately and broadly distributed. The FJG will directly target the unemployed-- remedying a key predictor of poverty. By providing universal employment, it will also counteract employers’ systematic discrimination against ex-offenders, recent military veterans, and certain racial groups. Furthermore, through providing a guaranteed job, workers will be emboldened to take new actions in the private sector. This could be just the policy to reinvigorate the labor movement, spurring unionization drives to improve working conditions. These benefits will result in the federal jobs raising beneficiaries and their families above the poverty line. The UBI can make no such guarantee.

Not only would a federal job guarantee bring justice to the millions who desire work, but it would also address the long-standing unjust barriers that keep large segments of stigmatized populations out of the labor force.

Finally, it would reverse the rising tide of inequality for all workers. By strengthening their bargaining power and eliminating the threat of unemployment once and for all, a federal job guarantee would bring power back to the workers where it belongs.
Tim Canova, a South Florida reformer in a tight contest with status quo Democrat Debbie Wassermann Schultz has been a long time supporter of a federal jobs guarantee. "In the 1990s, at the National Jobs For All Coalition, we called for this approach,” he told me recently. “The need for a federal job guarantee has been even greater since the 2008 financial collapse and the trickle down recovery that has followed. New Deal public works programs helped build so much of the country’s infrastructure while providing hope and dignity to millions of people. Today there are millions of Americans, particularly among our youth, who are unemployed or underemployed in bad part time jobs. We need to provide them with opportunities in public jobs programs, building our crumbling infrastructure, in conservation projects, and in service to others. This is a big part of our agenda."

Goal ThermometerKaniela Ing, the cutting edge policy candidate in Hawaii, has been working with Stephanie Kelton on how to make sure Job Guarantee serves the needs Hawaii's working families. A few weeks ago Kaniela told us that "America’s promise has always been clear-- work hard and your family will prosper. Today, too many hard-working Americans feel that our leaders have gone bad on that promise. I talk to folks who tell me everyday, they grind and sweat, but struggle to get by. Wages are stagnant, unemployment and underemployment are rising, the threats of automation and globalization are becoming real, all while costs are skyrocketing. But just take a walk outside and look around at all the work that needs to be done in America. There are bridges to be built, highways needing repair, kids to be taught, aging folks needing care, oceans to be cleaned, trees to be planted. But private markets fall short. For every job opening in America, four people are gunning for it. This pits worker against worker and creates a power imbalance between workers and their bosses. It’s too risky for a worker to stand up to wage theft, inhumane working conditions, or sexual harassment, when they know there’s nowhere else to go. Our elected representatives must stop pretending that everything is okay, and that the job market will some home fix itself. It’s time for real solutions that will actually help working families across America. It’s time for a new New deal. Since the start of my campaign, I’ve been leading with a universal job guarantee, and I ask other progressive candidates to join me. Let’s remind the establishment that the ability to work for a livable wage is a human right that should be afforded to all. In these uncertain times, progressives will lead with real solutions that offer hope to the many, and just the privileged few."

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At 1:49 PM, Blogger pyradius said...

JG is not sound policy simply because automation remains a questionable reason for supporting UBI. Support for UBI is properly grounded on the idea of shared common resources that we should all benefit from. How UBI is funded is also of relevance. To avoid inflation in land prices, UBI should be funded by a Land Value tax. Sorry to the neoclassical hacks that cannot wrap their heads around this basic economic truth.

At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

pyradius is wrong.

JG is better because it gives people's lives a meaning; it includes a measure of self respect. Cashing a check for doing nothing is better than starving. But cashing a check for doing meaningful work is far superior to both.

Automation need not impede JG at all. There will always be infrastructure and even training for next gen jobs could be paid in the JG realm.

As for paying for this, you need not worry. As a creator of money, the government can just make a number in a ledger bigger. In a year or two, their tax receipts will tick up because of JG. A minor tweak here and there of the doj budget would do. If you need a tax, add 3% to the top bracket. If the top bracket gets to 100%, start taxing wealth.

At 6:58 PM, Blogger pyradius said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7:00 PM, Blogger pyradius said...

Notice that unearned income is perfectly OK for the well-to-do in Anonymous' world, but somehow a steady stream of income from a source that everyone has a fair right to suddenly deprives 'laborers' of 'dignity'. There is no magical money tree _except_ for the unearned increment that pools in land values. To deprive anyone of access to their citizenship birthright is the root of injustice that leads to all other injustices.

At 7:12 PM, Blogger pyradius said...

I would only add that the exact opposite is true of this canard. UBI funded by a Land Value Tax would ensure that wages and productivity went hand-in-hand, providing dignity to labor.

At 9:02 PM, Blogger mainstreeter said...

UBI is a scam by the "libertarians" to eliminate social security, Medicare and the like.

At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Harriet said...

Of course both would be the ideal, but apparently we insist on pitting one against the other.

A question for those anti-UBI folks: why do you insist on creating two categories of work, one of which deserve compensation and the other which does not? And another: why do you desire to turn everything into a business transaction?

A individual making a meal for their partner: not worthy of compensation. An individual making a meal for others (say at a restaurant): worthy of compensation.

UBI is designed not only as a floor below which one cannot fall, but also as compensation and acknowledgement of all the currently uncompensated work that is done that makes society function. Work that should NOT be turned into a business transaction, we already have much too much of that kind of work as it is. Using a UBI completely divorced from any specific work we encourage and promote such socially beneficial work, and allow individuals the freedom and autonomy to determine exactly what that work is.

Of course there will always be some work, given the current structure of society and problems faced, that is best done and planned in a more centralized fashion. Which is where a JG comes into play. But JG job or a private sector job is not the only way to have meaning in one's life. If it seems like it is it is only because the masses have only ever experienced a world where in order to survive, to not starve, to not lay cold and unsheltered in the streets, is to have a wage-labor job.

Finally, we must both produce and consume less. We exist on a finite planet, and we've already overshot it's capacity to sustain us. Degrowth is a requirement, we can either choose to do it voluntarily, in a controlled and equitable fashion, or it will happen against our will, chaotically, by forces much greater than ourselves. A UBI, survival without the requistite 40+ hours of production done outside the home is a requirement of degrowth. And JG-jobs, focusing on rehabilitating and cleaning up the damage from our overconsumption and overproduction, and exploitation is a requirement of degrowth as well.

At 6:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll add that all this discussion is purely academic. Neither will ever happen in a fascist "capitalist" (oligarchic) economy. The inverse has been slowly implemented for 4 decades; government has been culled of liberal thought/deed for 4 decades; the electorate has been weaned off of liberal thought sufficient to guarantee the continuation of the current fascism; divisive hatreds have been fertilized and cultivated to guarantee the continuation.

Harriet makes some good points. UBI and JG are not mutually exclusive in theory. Meaningful work provides the worker with self esteem. But certainly UBI, if it were for uncompensated labor, as homemaking or whatever, would not necessarily detract from one's self esteem.

I do some volunteer work. I worry that UBI will result in more greedy concerns underpaying (wal mart) and/or converting paid work to volunteer work so as to take advantage of UBI and even JG, pocketing the difference. Along with some mythical tax meme to pay for it, there would have to be some mechanism to punish the waltons and whomever for doing more of what the waltons already do.

But, again, ... academic. Won't ever happen.

At 6:33 AM, Anonymous rhcaldwell said...

Thoughtful posts, all. I'd like to see Harriet and pyradius hammer out a joint proposal...

At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To borrow a point from 6:15, " I worry that UBI will result in more greedy concerns underpaying (wal mart) and/or converting paid work to volunteer work so as to take advantage of UBI and even JG, pocketing the difference", my family just went to the Reagan LIEbury to see an exhibit about the Titanic (I refuse to set foot there). Somehow, my son learned that the turnover of the LIEbury staff is huge. They are expected to put up with heavy-handed management and are not paid to do so. Their positions ARE VOLUNTARY. He also reported that a simple hamburger meal at the commissary is $19.95.

Sounds to me that this is a perfect example of what Republicans intend to do to the United States, beginning with their tax thievery. Charge as much as possible and don't pay anyone anything.

At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Harriet said...

To address Anon & Anon re: underpaying & exploitation.

Part of why this is possible is because we exist in a world where you either engage in wage-labor or you die. If anything, a properly structured UBI makes such exploitation LESS likely because the average worker has the ability to refuse such exploitative work and not die, be homeless, etc. Combined with socially benefical JG-jobs it becomes even less likely.

Of course neither UBI nor JG (or both combined) will alone usher in a utopia, they must be part of many, widespread revolutionary, "radical" changes.

It is hard to see these necessary changes occuring or even possible given the current state of things. The ballot box has been co-opted, the soap box has been criminalized and marginalized, the ammo box has been demonized and instills fear in the masses (in some cases rightfully so).

However, radical change, for the better or the worse is a near-guarantee in the future. Whether it comes about as a result of planning and design or it is forced upon us by issues like climate change and massive inequality remains to be seen. We cannot act like the status quo can continue. It will change, it must change, there are no other options. We only get to choose how we go about it, and even then there is no guarantee that we get what we want.

At 7:20 AM, Blogger Dan Lynch said...

To the author: Huey Long advocated a means-tested basic income (BIG) in addition to job creation programs. Huey also called for a 30 hour work week, a minimum 4 weeks paid vacation, and a full pension at age 60 to improve the labor market.

So as Harriet asked, why are we pitting an income guarantee and job creation against each other, instead of doing like Huey and advocating both?

Because your friends Stephanie Kelton and Pavlina Tcherneva are academics -- who have never been poor in their life, by the way -- who have invested their academic reputation in the JG. They view the various BIG proposals as ideological competition.

My advice is to stay away from Stephanie and Pavlina and the other MMTer's. MMT is a pro-capitalism religious cult. All the leading MMTer's are elitists who think they know what is best for the poor and working class.

As for your $23,000 JG, it ain't gonna happen. That's just fantasy. Any real life job program will pay starvation wages to perform dead end tasks. But MMT uses bait and switch to sell their beloved JG, promising pie in the sky that they have no power to deliver.

MMT is not your friend, unless you are a pro-capitalism elitist.

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harriet, our perspectives differ.

I'm concerned with the greedy profiteering from government guarantees of income and/or jobs, as wal mart, fast food and a lot of red states already do.

I certainly won't argue the wage-slave meme. This has been burgeoning in the use for 40 years.

And, again, this is a strictly academic effort here. None of this will ever happen unless it's making it easier for the waltons to exploit labor and sustenance programs to increase their portfolios.

Because: capitalism, greed and ubiquitous stupidity.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger nihil obstet said...

A JG would be a huge improvement over what we have now, and I would like it to accompany a UBI. Like pyradius, I see the belief that we should all have a share in common resources as a philosophical grounding for replacing the paradigm that all value resides in property with one that places basic value in human beings. Harriet has noted some of the other benefits of a UBI.

In pragmatic terms, I have trouble seeing how a JG of the sort described by advocates could be passed. Just one example from the post: "Even if we conservatively guess that fifteen million unemployed workers need jobs, funding the FJG would take about $750 billion." OK, but according to Pew Research, another 24 million make less than $10.10 an hour, poverty wages. Furthermore, if these jobs in the JG offered decent benefits (sick pay, annual leave, pension), lots more people would try to flow into them. So I am not convinced that the costs of a decent JG would compare all that favorably to a UBI.

I'm also not convinced that the JG could be implemented as easily as its major advocates seem to be. Yes, lots of meaningful jobs need doing. But I don't want untrained workers doing child or elder care, or operating forklifts or doing medical lab work. And I REALLY don't want a JG to offer jobs as telemarketers! Relatively unskilled jobs offer immediate slots for the unemployed; I can't see how meaningful employment for many people can be so flexible. And this is especially true since no one addresses the issue of location in a way that makes sense to me. What kinds of jobs will be available to you in your current home? The usual answer is that the local community can come up with all sorts of things that need doing. Yes, like child care that many people think just anybody can do. This is why I think of the JG as a Downton Abbey fantasy -- we'll have lots of happy villagers providing caretaking and gardening.

However guaranteed the job, the fact remains that the worker's livelihood depends on pleasing a more powerful person. This is the issue that we need to break. Before we get to the UBI, we should be working on basic guarantees for workers. These should include requirements similar to those in most OECD countries. No employment at will, workers' rights in the management of the firm, specified leave policies, and the like.

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Harriet said...

To address, in general, the 'it is unrealistic' argument.

When a system is as flawed as the one that currently exists, the status quo, viewing most any fix/change in isolation is a grave mistake. Any single change is difficult if not impossible to make or is rendered largely ineffective if not harmful and counterproductive. That is a fundamental problem of narrow critiques and incrementalism.

Any critique, any roadmap for change, must be comprehensive, wide-ranging, broad. UBI, JG, wealth redistribution, free healthcare, free education, transition to cleaner energy, reductiong in consumption and production, inequality reduction, environmental cleanup, debt jubilee, reclaiming money as a public good rather than a private one, flattening of social and power hierarchies, return of the commons. One might remove some items from this list or add additional ones. I make no claim to perfection.

But this is the only type of change which will work, which can actually inspire a critical mass to dream and demand bigger, which can offer truly meaningful change for the many.

At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Harriet said...

First we need to know where we're going, then we need to figure out how to get there.

The great man (and in rare instances woman) theory and view of history, progress, discovery, revolution, change, is a false, incorrect, misleading one. The liklihood of any single individual formulating, articulating, spreading, implementing such radical change is zero. In this instance, copyright, paywalls, the siloing of knowledge are our enemies. Information must be freed, by whatever means necessary. It must be shared, copied, modified without restriction. The internet is our era's printing press, should enough of us choose to seize it, seize the moment; to demand, fight, sacrifice for what is rightfully ours.

We must reject the world and its artificial restrictions, which is imposed upon us by a few, some long-dead. Otherwise we're handicapped, defanged, made docile, doomed to failure and continued exploitation. Some pessimism about our chances is warranted, healthy, accurate. But too much is harmful, confining, defeating.

At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nihil, you make excellent points, and in doing so validate my own (that it will never happen).

You could say that to do these right would require repudiation of capitalism largely. And that is our overarching religion, superseding even the Christianity of the likes of pence who would install a caliphate in the usa given half a chance. The usa isn't going to repudiate capitalism, greed, hate, deprivation, inequality. The usa won't suddenly develop compassion, tolerance, equality, altruism nor certainly socialism. Our society is far too ignorant and stupid to make any sort of sea change within even 2 generations.

A roadmap for change as sweeping as this would need to start with a revolution in our politics, which THIS SITE works against. Irony?
It would require a far more engaged and faaar less ignorant society. That won't happen as long as Rs and democraps are our only choices as they BOTH rely on society being divided, ignorant and stupid.
It cannot happen quickly either since it takes a generation or two being well educated and reared for that kind of social reversal to take root.

Finally, given humanity's propensity to forget any altruism it is taught in favor of the limbic urges (greed, fear, hate), society must be relentless about teaching altruism along with attacking ignorance at all levels.

JG must be run by wise altruists and the meaningful work cannot be determined by the private sector. Gaps must be filled by those wise enough to identify the gaps. The WPA and REA are good examples here. Both provided meaningful toil for halfway decent wages doing stuff the private sector would never have done on its own. UBI might be something to augment the slave wages or mandate living wages by greedy exploiters like the waltons.
Benefits must be part of the package.

But, considering society as it is today... never happen.

Steven Hawking says we've got about another century on this planet. Then we're dead. Think any of this will be seriously tried before we're all dead?

At 4:59 AM, Anonymous Harriet said...

Most recent Anon, regarding the timeframe for change:

Many in the younger generations are already getting there, more work of course needs to be done but we may not be as far aways as you think. It would be easy to think we are though, due to the monopoly control of media and politics, the dominant narrative currently preached. The benefit, if you can call it that, of so many being so exploited and precarious is that they are more willing to accept, risk radical change. They just need an alternate story to the one Mother Culture is whispering in their ears.

Of course history shows that this can be co-opted by those in power to further entrench their rule. So it is far from guarantee.

What I believe is your other mistake is your view of human nature. The way we structure our societies, communities is not the way they have been structured for all of our 200,000+ years on this planet. In a society centered around greed, consumption, exploitation, narcissism, individualism, competition, it is not surprising that we see these traits as being the dominant, most expressed ones. But that does not mean that they are innate, unchangeable, can only be extinguished through their practictioner's death, thus requiring an extended timescale for change.

The current incarnation of Mother Culture is a powerful force, but she is not immortal, undefeatable.

At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harriet, your optimism is refreshing.

I'm old enough to remember days when mother culture was far more altruistic, though.
I can and often do contrast that time with the current. and the difference is stark. And also the vector continues to have negative slope. Trump and his voters made that negative slope steeper.

It is truth that the limbic urges are inbred. The countervailing forces must be learned. America is a far less learned society today than when I was born. Our best and brightest are the smallest fraction of our total than ever before. And in this 21st century our society contains a far higher proportion of the religiously, relentlessly ignorant than when I was born.

The money owns and operates mother culture for their benefit.
The people are voracious in their consumption of mother culture.
Once an American reaches a certain age and number of years of inculcation to mother culture, it becomes incumbent on society to FORCE them to relearn and change. The money doesn't WANT this.
Even though altruism may not be totally dead, and there is always evidence of this of one looks hard enough, voters NEVER insist on it in those they elect. It is nearly always political suicide to run on advocacy of giving sustenance to those who need it by any means. It is political suicide to run on advocacy of disallowing the tools of our ongoing domestic carnage. It is political suicide in much of the nation to run on advocacy of racial, gender, age and/or income Equality.

A racist, homophobe, islamophobe or pedophile can become a party's nom for a seat. An atheist cannot.

So while in theory your optimism may be founded, in practice I do not believe it is.

I might change my mind when voters euthanize the democrap party and coalesce around a truly left association; and that association starts soundly defeating all republicans everywhere except the most regressive white southern states and districts, who always have been irredeemable.

Only then can we even dream of such things as a truly altruistic society and government which must precede any kind of effort toward JG, UBI and a whole laundry list of other reforms that are needed before about 2040, which is the point at which momentum cannot be overcome making this planet the hospice for all of humankind.

Do you realistically see any viable path toward this?

thank you for engaging.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger nihil obstet said...

Since what we're doing is not sustainable, there will be a change. We should be working towards the world we want rather than waiting for the collapse into rubble to see what will happen. I'd argue for us to make steps towards both a JG and a UBI. I've already mentioned some steps towards a JG. Essentially, anything that lessens the power of capital over labor is a step both actually and philosophically towards the world that a JG is aimed at. So lets work towards a livable wage, civil service and union type worker rights and protections, and and the like. There are already growing movements towards living wage and family/medical leave, though not as strong towards job protections as I'd like to see. That will take work.

Towards the UBI -- increase Social Security (including SSDI) and lower the age of eligibility. On the other end, provide not only free tution but also living stipends to students. Provide sabbaticals, say six months every ten years for people to do with as they please. If it works, that moves us step by step towards the universal income.

If these things don't work to get us the JG and UBI, they're still working doing just for making life better now.

At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nihil, the only places I know of that might ever even begin to do this are in Europe and maybe Canada. I haven't kept up with Australia. New Zealand is too libertarian.

The us would be in the bottom 5 of potential states where this could ever happen. Russia and NK are worse. Not sure if China is better or worse. And V-N.

So... good luck with that dream.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Eric Zvonchenko said...

MMT is supported by twenty years of peer reviewed academic research and by real progressives.. it most certainly is not pro elitist. It favors full employment. Go to the Real Progressives Facebook page for the real deal.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Eric Zvonchenko said...

You missed a key facet of the federal job guarantee. It is federally funded by the governments ability to create money and locally administered. The jobs would be whatever the local community decides it needs.

At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pyradius is nuts in advocating for a Land Value Tax to fund a UBI. Land values often have nothing to do with the owner's income level. I bought my house in 1978. It's now worth nearly a million dollar in my highly inflated beach community. Meanwhile, my SS is $19K a year. The only reason I can afford to stay in my house is that my property tax rate is protected by Prop 13. If not, my tax bill would be 2/3rds (or more) of my total income.

At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, clearly Pyra never lived in NYC or the SF bay area.

wrt the current meme being unsustainable. Clearly it cannot continue much longer.

But the "solution" will never come from politics or the people. Too much fascist greed in the former and far too much stupidity in the latter.
What will make it change or die will be a collapse or war or both. And what comes next will almost surely be worse.

Humans are like that on the big stuff.

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

You obviously aren't familiar with the total failure of communism which also provided job guarantees. All it ensured was incompetence, waste and dependency not to mention total economic collapse.

At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

communism failed for the very same reason our democracy failed. Tyranny by a few at the top results in them getting all the benefits while everyone else gets covered with their waste.

It doesn't matter whether they SAY they will guarantee jobs or that they "feel their pain" or whatever they SAY. They rape and pillage just the same.


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