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Basic Income vs Job Guarantee

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Dallas, TX
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    I put up a post about the loss of the term "Full Employment" from the Democratic Party Platform a few days ago and it devolved into a debate over basic income vs. job guarantee. I tried to post a response comment but fell asleep before I posted and my laptop powered off. Trying to migrate that discussion here:

    Depending on its scope and scale, basic income has unhinged inflationary implications. At the extreme end of BI, there is universal basic income where everyone gets a check to support themselves at some basic sustainable level. This actually has some conservative/libertarian support on the right because they see it as a replacing the social welfare state and reducing government, etc. Everyone is covered so there is no application process or tests that have to be performed to determine eligibility. Government just mails out the checks. How this fiscal adjustment is to be done is to be determined.

    If 200 million people get $30k, that's $6 trillion dollars. This would be the largest nominal and real fiscal adjustment in history. Ever. It would completely change society. Fitting this $6 trillion in checks into the total spending of the economy within a feasible sustainable range of output would require offsets and other adjustments or assumptions playing out; otherwise total spending would outstrip output and prices would adjust upward. That requires a lot of information, planning, and decision-making; far more would have to be done than is done today in monitoring and managing the economy.

    Now proponents say, the robots and automation are going to take our jobs and we won't have the incomes to buy the stuff and services that the robots could produce, which will be more than what could be produced before. This will neutralize the inflation threat over the long term.

    Assuming this is all one day the case, it begs the question why would we need monetary incomes at that point at all?

    In any event, we don't live in a world where robot workers have replaced human paid labor. So why would we create a program based on a world that doesn't exist, yet, and may not be the most efficient option when sufficient conditions for it are met?

    In the meanwhile, surveys show that people want to work. They want to do something useful with their lives. It's good for self-esteem and part of how we find purpose in life.

    A transitional Job Guarantee and strong public works orientated government in general would address this, while providing income security, without also having to totally remake government and society.

    Those employed through the job guarantee would earn incomes they wouldn't otherwise acquire, and transition to employment outside of it. This would support higher wages in the economy for labor and serve as an automatic counter cyclical stabilizer.

    If technology, productivity, and feasible sustainable output rapidly increase so that its harder to transition to employment, we can explore earlier retirement ages and increased benefits for Social Security, the disabled, and children in poverty, and job sharing at reduced work weeks, etc.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    I have been thinking about this since it was posted. BI will not work for people but will work to satisfy right wing thinking by estabishing a fixed cap on social spending. It could work as an institutional dispersing of basic needs with no cap supplemented with cash.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Carlitos -- We are having this discussion of Basic Income versus Job Guarantee somewhat idealistically as we know both are non-starters in this political and divisive America where ignorance and misinformation rules. Nevertheless, I still see positives and negatives in both, but probably as you noted, the much higher cost of the Basic Income program is something that cannot be ignored. The costs go way beyond what even Bernie Sanders was proposing with free higher education for all.

    Our American psyche is such that we have a hard time giving anything "free" to anyone. It has to be earned. It doesn't matter about all the positives on society, Republican hardliners will dig out the few gold diggers and put them on the front page of the media. Look how successful Ronald Reagan's fictitious "welfare queen" was to his candidacy. Look at how people struggling on food stamps are derided by Republicans.

    On that basis alone, and there are other reasons, I am of the view that a Job Guarantee is more sellable to the public as a whole, but even a JG will be a hard sell for those who want to shrink the size of government. Republicans seem to be able to twist the messaging on any issue, making mountains out of molehills and turning out fake news and conspiracy theories. Also, I also struggle with what might be the unintended consequences of a Job Guarantee when we seem to be driven more by emotions rather than critical thinking in putting together (i.e. compromising) a program acceptable to Congress, the President and the populace. Populism is a hard obstacle to overcome.

    The election of Donald Trump is the prime example of how at least half of the population can be so easily swayed (exploited) by those putting out populist fake news and other bullshit. Just look at how many people still believe that President Obama is a secret Muslim born in Kenya. Changing those brains and many like them might prove to be impossible.

    I guess if you are following this, it sounds like gloom and doom for the future of American workers. Maybe it's far too early to start proposing such a program, but it is never too early to start the task of changing brains...promoting critical thinking. It may be that the best approach is progressive incrementalism rather than a political revolution. But for now with the election of Trump, we need to avoid going backwards rather then forward...holding onto what gains we have made under Obama. That could be very tough.

  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    I look forward to reading more related posts. I don't know what could work. I fear many would draw the process out because letting the poor have inadequate schools, not enough food, poor healthcare and inadequate child care is the way it's always been done. Forgive my rant. Looking forward to progressive ideas and explanations on how it might ultimately get consideration. I appreciate time on the topic because it could be important in the nation's future.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    My guess is forget this whole issue; Trump will be until his neck into the alligators in his swamp and has no time for that.

    The way I look at it he'll be way too busy to get himself into more shit per day then he can handle; I would suggest to have an heart attack specialist standing by day and night.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Dallas, TX
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    Schmidt Wrote:

    Carlitos -- We are having this discussion of Basic Income versus Job Guarantee somewhat idealistically as we know both are non-starters in this political and divisive America where ignorance and misinformation rules. Nevertheless, I still see positives and negatives in both, but probably as you noted, the much higher cost of the Basic Income program is something that cannot be ignored. The costs go way beyond what even Bernie Sanders was proposing with free higher education for all.

    Way, way beyond that. Like the costs of WW3.

    Our American psyche is such that we have a hard time giving anything "free" to anyone. It has to be earned. It doesn't matter about all the positives on society, Republican hardliners will dig out the few gold diggers and put them on the front page of the media. Look how successful Ronald Reagan's fictitious "welfare queen" was to his candidacy. Look at how people struggling on food stamps are derided by Republicans.

    The largest welfare queens on the face of the Earth and in all of human history are rich people in America.

    From interest payments on government bonds, government support of the financial system, and the two-tiered system of justice, government support for rich people goes beyond anything that has ever been done for the working class.

    We just have to talk about it. And fight for a government limited to serving public purpose and nothing else.

    On that basis alone, and there are other reasons, I am of the view that a Job Guarantee is more sellable to the public as a whole, but even a JG will be a hard sell for those who want to shrink the size of government. Republicans seem to be able to twist the messaging on any issue, making mountains out of molehills and turning out fake news and conspiracy theories. Also, I also struggle with what might be the unintended consequences of a Job Guarantee when we seem to be driven more by emotions rather than critical thinking in putting together (i.e. compromising) a program acceptable to Congress, the President and the populace. Populism is a hard obstacle to overcome.

    The quickest way to do a JG is just to let the existing federal agencies hire all those who want to work at the new minimum wage in the economy. Simplest way to implement, but wouldn't necessarily go all the way towards a job for everyone who wants to work, but it would be a damn good start without all of the difficult questions involved.

    A job guarantee would reduce unemployment caused by government in the first place. The unemployed are in the public sector. Their wasted labor is lost output. That lost output is part of the government. A job guarantee can only make the government smaller, and the labor force available for the private sector more robust and ready to work. A bigger economy and a smaller government is what a job guarantee supports. It's a limited government solution that supports a progressive outcome.

    The election of Donald Trump is the prime example of how at least half of the population can be so easily swayed (exploited) by those putting out populist fake news and other bullshit. Just look at how many people still believe that President Obama is a secret Muslim born in Kenya. Changing those brains and many like them might prove to be impossible.

    The media turned into Trump TV 24/7 and a lot else went wrong.

    The emails, Comey, Stein, Crosscheck, voter caging, and bad campaign strategies.....

    All of that contributed to a perfect storm where Hillary could win by 2.8 million votes? and lose the Electoral College.

    Trump is history's accident. Still, Democrats had to try to (bleep) this up, this bad.

    I guess if you are following this, it sounds like gloom and doom for the future of American workers. Maybe it's far too early to start proposing such a program, but it is never too early to start the task of changing brains...promoting critical thinking. It may be that the best approach is progressive incrementalism rather than a political revolution. But for now with the election of Trump, we need to avoid going backwards rather then forward...holding onto what gains we have made under Obama. That could be very tough.

    Democrats should abandon the New Democrats long war on the working class and fight to end decades of austerity policies.

    This is good economics and politics. It's harder to win and do otherwise.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    TJ -- My view is that we first need to change the narrative that trade deals are what is causing job losses. Sure some people lost jobs and some gained jobs. But by far the biggest impact on jobs in the last few decades is automation and markets. By markets I mean that buyers preferences are always shifting. Yesterday's hot products become tomorrow's surplus shelf items...like floppy disks, cassette tapes and PDAs .

    That and automation. The unskilled worker is faced with two grim realities: his job is either going to be automated or it's going to be outsourced to a foreign country where labor is cheap. He can get retrained for another job, but that in itself is a risk. What if he/she retrains for the wrong job that too is going away? I do have sympathy for these folks. I know some.

    PS - I wrote this post much earlier and forgot to post it. I'll comment on Carlitos response later

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    TJ -- I watched the Chris Hayes show last night with Bernie Sanders answering questions from a mixed audience of Trump, Sanders and Clinton supporters from Kenosha Wisconsin. Kenosha used to be a one company town building Nash Ramblers, or just Ramblers. Those were good paying jobs right up to the 1980s when several market factors and upper management bad decisions saw the eventual demise of not only the Rambler but also the entire American Motors company as it was bought up by Chrysler. Today Kenosha still is doing okay serving as a bedroom commuter town situated between Milwaukee and Chicago. It has a small manufacturing base, but nothing to compare to the boom days when Nash/Rambler sales were strong.

    I was struck by the fact that most everyone in the audience blamed trade agreements for the demise of their manufacturing base. This is a point that Bernie Sanders hit on again and again. If only we hadn't entered into bad trade agreements, maybe Kenosha would still be making Nash Ramblers. That's kind of the thinking that seemed to be pervasive in that selected audience based on their hand raising to questions.

    However, not once did I hear any mention of lack of market competitiveness and automation as being the possible reasons for Nash/Rambler no longer making cars in Kenosha. The fault lies entirely with trade agreements. I wish Chris Hayes would have polled the audience to ask them how many of them are driving Toyotas or Hondas or Hundais or Kias. That would have been revealing. No matter what you might feel about buying American, the American consumer will buy where he/she gets the best value for the buck...and car reliability is a factor in those decisions. All the European, Japanese and Korean automakers have assembly plants in the USA and they are selling products that the American consumer wants. The market place for Nash/Ramblers went away along time ago not because of trade agreements but because these foreign companies were making better quality and stylish cars that American consumers wanted.

    The point I will make is that as long as we are overly obsessed with trade agreements (Trump and Sanders) as being the reason for job losses in America, then we cannot begin to focus our energies on fixing what is really wrong with our society and why we have lost much of our market competitiveness in some sectors while still growing other sectors. Does anyone here remember the Rambler? Did you own one? I'll take an old Toyota any day.

  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    I don't blame trade deals at all. I blame greed and a desire for few (if any) regulations.

    The narrative though does need changed because of misinformation.

    My father had a Rambler station wagon. Thanks for that memory.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Schmidt, I said it many times. The US followed the British "model" instead of looking at the rest of the world. Due to the fact that Britain and us stick to "inches" "pounds" and non metric threads etc. then the tolerances etc. where horrible on those US produced cars nor that the Americans cared because just buy a new one every two years. In Europe and Asia it is so much easier to be more precise in production as well quality. Also due to the fact the US is an "consumption" society, cars should only last a couple of years so you can sell new one's. This system has failed horribly.

    As long as we only copy Britain we will keep making the same mistakes. ( Jaguars etc. were the odd cars to work on; Lucas was the king of darkness etc.)

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    TJ -- Yes I know you weren't one of those obsessed with trade agreements. However, you did ask some very pertinent questions as to how we might better address the job losses for whatever reasons. I have referenced job retraining and education in other posts but I'll expand more on your questions later. The point that I really wanted to drive home though is that we cannot seem to be able to seriously consider how we might respond to the implications on society of job losses from automation, markets, and globalization if both the left and the right thinks that scrapping or redoing trade agreements is the answer to our economic problems. It's a populist belief that is misguided and has become the political hot potato.

    Yes we can do somewhat better on trade agreements but people should not expect anything revolutionary that will bring back those particular jobs. And if we did scrap all agreements and impose tariffs, it is a two way street. Expect retaliation.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Carlitos Wrote:

    In the meanwhile, surveys show that people want to work. They want to do something useful with their lives. It's good for self-esteem and part of how we find purpose in life.

    A transitional Job Guarantee and strong public works orientated government in general would address this, while providing income security, without also having to totally remake government and society.

    Those employed through the job guarantee would earn incomes they wouldn't otherwise acquire, and transition to employment outside of it. This would support higher wages in the economy for labor and serve as an automatic counter cyclical stabilizer.

    If technology, productivity, and feasible sustainable output rapidly increase so that its harder to transition to employment, we can explore earlier retirement ages and increased benefits for Social Security, the disabled, and children in poverty, and job sharing at reduced work weeks, etc.

    Carlitos -- I support a Job Guarantee, but it is a paradigm shift for me. As one who has hired many people, I have specific criteria that I look for...enthusiasm, team player, self motivated, smart (smarter than me), intellectual curiosity, etc. Those people are hard to find because they are already employed. So those in need of a JG are those who probably did poorly in job interviews, or maybe they weren't motivated enough to even look for a job. There is also a psychological impact on the long term unemployed that makes them even more unemployable.

    I've also read polls that show many workers that are employed are unhappy in their jobs.

    New York Daily News: Workplace morale heads down: 70% of Americans negative about their jobs, Gallup study shows

    That kind of surprises me. If Gallop would have polled my work group of professionals (before I retired) my guess is that maybe job happiness would have approached 90 percent. I note that among government workers, NASA employees have the highest job satisfaction (characteristics similar to my technology group). That's because it is staffed heavily with highly educated professionals who enjoy what they are doing. Maybe that will change under Trump whose anti-science statements make everyone cringe.

    Millenials are another group that seem to appreciate their jobs more than the older generation. Many of them will probably appreciate the JG as they would see it as temporary and are likely more optimistic and flexible. Older workers, on the other hand, struggle with change especially if they have had job security most of their lives. Those are the ones who may take a JG out of necessity, but I for one may not enjoy working with them. Unhappy workers can affect the moral of others in the work group.

    Still, a JG job is better than being unemployed, but for those who have to administer and supervise such employees, it can be challenging. The task should not be taken lightly...matching skills with interests will be very important. The employees need to feel like they are valued.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Treat people as a valuable resource and regulate for maintenance and protection.. Standard policy has been to use resources til nearly extinct and then action is taken to protect the resource. The right wing cherishes right to life, expand that ideal. The conversation about basic income and guaranteed employment shows an understanding that at least a minimum standard of living is a right.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Sure it gives an discussion, that's all. Forget all of this; Trump is already getting rid of an lot of departments which create work. We don't need the EPA, or HUD, or Energy Departments, or Labor Department; he put some people there who certainly screw it up on purpose, because he wants such. There will only be jobs created to fill the pockets of the "billionaires" nothing else; so forget the "jobs" for the middle class as well for the "deplorables" It is the "old" GOP "top down" approach: make the rich richer, then you create jobs according to their dumb brains. Yes as butler, chamber maid or caddy.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Yes as we have already discussed, the likelihood of a JG under Trump is near zero. However, no matter who is in charge, we must first start a narrative on the "positives"...start the task of changing people's brains. Let it be discussed in the social media, and how, if carefully implemented, it can have a very positive impact on society. A poorly implemented and administered program could kill it forever.