Wednesday, June 6, 2012

hbl — The Ultimate Job Guarantee Implementation: Can we Achieve Zero Wasted Labor AND Zero Material Waste Simultaneously?!?

...this post will outline a concrete JG idea I have not seen described elsewhere.
Read it at Thought Offerings
The Ultimate Job Guarantee Implementation: Can we Achieve Zero Wasted Labor AND Zero Material Waste Simultaneously?!?
by hbl


3 comments:

Dan Kervick said...

Sounds like a very interesting proposal to me. Just one more to add to the long list.

I think the bottom line is that once one spends ten minutes thinking about what the unemployed could do, one quickly realizes that there are way more things worth doing than there are people to do them, and only a ludicrous and childish faith in the efficiency and self-sufficiency of private sector enterprise can blind a person to all of the obvious missed social opportunities and criminal waste of resources.

Having been called a communist more times than I care to remember now for having the temerity to suggest that the public should hire that minority portion of Americans for which the private sector fails to generate work opportunities, it's pretty obvious that the opposition to the JG is primarily based on kneejerk, dunderheaded, unthinking ideological hatred of any government participation in the real economy at all. It's a weird John Bircher hangover from Cold War days that has infected a larger portion of the post-Cold War generation.

Societies need a combination of private enterprise and public enterprise. Neither sector can carry the whole social load.

Dan said...

Agree 100% with everything Dan Kervick said.

Garbage sorting is one of many things JG could do. It would not create very many jobs, perhaps 6 - 12 at the typical county landfill, if even that.

Another 6 - 12 could patrol rural roads picking up litter -- and recycling the aluminum cans.

Shoveling snow from sidewalks in the winter.

Building and maintaining hiking trails on public lands, similar to the CCC. Our public lands have been badly neglected since the Reagan area.

Fencing livestock out of riparian areas on public lands, patrolling the fences.

Cleaning up garbage on public lands (JG's could be farmed out to the Forest Service and the BLM, etc..)

Not just grunt work, either. You could find projects for writers, architects, engineers, and skilled trades, just as was done in the WPA.

Liberal arts majors could work in JG Human Resources to screen and counsel the JGer's.

Business majors could supervise. Accountants would be handy for payrolls, purchasing supplies, etc..

Pysch/social work majors would have no shortage of JG work counseling other JG'ers.

Responsible JG parents could provide free day care services for other JG'ers.

Education majors could either assist at local schools, or teach GED to JG'ers. Teachers could also run training classes on safety or on trade skills or business/computer skills.

The common perception is that JG will be young unskilled labor similar to the CCC, but bear in mind that we have aging demographics and a lot of middle aged people suffering from long term unemployment. Also many unemployed/underemployed college grads. So the JG admin should keep an open mind and try to find tasks appropriate to the individual.
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hbl said...

Good comments.

To respond to Dan regarding "Garbage sorting is one of many things JG could do. It would not create very many jobs, perhaps 6 - 12 at the typical county landfill, if even that."

My post linked to by Tom is actually from January, and I have a follow up post that cites a labor-intensive recycling "community" that has recycled over 80% of Cairo's waste stream, versus under 35% recycled in the US:

The Zero Waste Jobs Program Revisited: Can We Recycle Over 80% of Trash Instead of Under 35% While Ending Involuntary Unemployment?

I think the example helps demonstrate how far short current efforts are and thus the likely benefits a zero waste jobs program would bring, and I'd personally be surprised if it only took 6-12 more people per landfill. What about dis-assembly of products into component parts, for example?

Also I think it's important to remember all the current negative externalities that society bears the cost of -- pollution from trash incinerators, land lost to land fills, natural habitat destruction from excessive extraction of new raw materials, etc. So an enlightened program would "think big" in terms of novel ways of reducing the waste stream, even if not all waste types could be "profitably" sold to industry (in a narrowly measured form of profitability).