Sunday, July 23, 2017

Steve Roth — Two Big Questions About the Job Guarantee: God, Devil, and the Details


More blather about the JG.

Answer to question 1: It's a job guarantee. It's advertised as a job offer for those willing and able to work that don't have a job offer from private sector employers in their area. To get the wage you have to show up and do the job you signed you for. What is so hard to understand about that?

Answer to question 2: These issues need to be articulated clearly and formulated into a legislative bill. The initial bill will likely be debated in the House and Senate and modified based on hearings, debate and lobbying. Just like every other policy proposal that becomes law.

20 comments:

Noah Way said...

Is there a need for everyone to work? From a material production basis clearly not since unemployment numbers are bogus and a large portion of the country is underemployed.

Then again it depends on how you define work. Is raising a family work? Maintaining property or a vegetable garden?

What there is a real need for is everyone to be gainfully employed in something productive and necessary to the functioning of society, which is not necessarily as a wage slave boosting profits for someone else.

Neil Wilson said...

"Is there a need for everyone to work?"

Yes. Because you need the production workers to work in shifts 24x7 to get maximum productivity from the machinery and deliver our advanced standard of living.

So to get them to give up their time like that you have to offer them some serious reward in return - a wonderful public environment with lots of free services they can enjoy and private services that save them lots of time.

If you don't do that they may as well stop work on a Tuesday, having produced enough for themselves and those who make the machines, and take the rest of the week off.

The alternative is some sort of slavery mechanism, say keeping the number of jobs less than the number of people, not actually paying people enough to live on, and letting the capitalists continue to extract maximum surplus value from those production workers. Then some Robin Hood characters sweep in take a bit from the capitalists and redistribute it to much fanfare.

Service to others is the price you pay for your room here on earth. The Job Guarantee is there to allow you to make that rent.

"What there is a real need for is everyone to be gainfully employed in something productive and necessary to the functioning of society"

Er, that's what a job is.

How many articles have I written on this?

Once you have more jobs on offer than people who can take them, the entire power structure changes 180 degrees. Let's stop equating 'job' with private profit. Ironically that's what UBI keeps in place, but the Job Guarantee takes action to destroy.

A Job is something you like doing, that others consider to be useful.



Neil Wilson said...

It's almost like volunteering doesn't happen.

Go ask a churchwarden how they handle variable levels of volunteers and still manage to achieve things.

Now add the ability to say to people "if you turn up to do these things, you'll get paid. If you don't you won't". Will more people turn up and stick around?

Even normal market driven firms at the low level have variable levels of staff. There are always quits and hires every week.

Why is it so hard to envisage a market driven by social effectiveness rather than monetary profit where you have access to as many people as there are willing to work at the living wage. Your goals then are to produce something that is pleasing to wider society so they will let you continue doing that thing.

That's what social entrepreneurs do. Perhaps it is market entrepreneurs that can't get their head around the different drivers.

Ralph Musgrave said...

"A Job is something you like doing, that others consider to be useful." Offhand, I can't think of a huge number of activities that fit that description. There's plenty of things people like doing - sunbathing, watching TV, drinking beer, water skiing, taking the dog for a walk, etc etc - which others DON'T consider useful (to themselves at least).

MRW said...

”A Job is something you like doing, that others consider to be useful." Offhand, I can't think of a huge number of activities that fit that description.

You’re not everybody. And the fact that you can’t imagine a “number of activities that fit that description” is your lack of imagination or, perhaps, your lack of insight.

It’s been proven over and over and over again that jobs increase a person’s dignity, standing in the community, and social worth. And it maintains friendships, and reduces loneliness, desperation, and social crimes. At least in this country. Maybe England is different.

MRW said...

Why is it so hard to envisage a market driven by social effectiveness rather than monetary profit where you have access to as many people as there are willing to work at the living wage. Your goals then are to produce something that is pleasing to wider society so they will let you continue doing that thing.

Exactly.

andy blatchford said...

"And it maintains friendships, and reduces loneliness, desperation"

Yes it is the same in England, also something not often bought up is how many people meet their partners through work (my wife for example was a customer)I did a count up at my place of work a few months ago and it was around 40%.

Andrew Anderson said...
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Andrew Anderson said...
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Andrew Anderson said...

It's almost like volunteering doesn't happen. Neil ("Arbeit macht frei") Wilson

A JG's true purpose is to consume* 40 or so hours of the worker's time a week so as to REDUCE his/her ability to engage in true volunteer labor while a UBI or JG would INCREASE his/her ability to engage in true volunteer labor.

*Similar to milk dumping in the 1930's to maintain prices while people starved, a JG's purpose is to maintain wage rates by enslaving would-be private sector workers, including those who would work for their families and themselves, for 40 or so hours a week.

Andrew Anderson said...

Speaking of the private sector, Neil has admitted the purpose of business is to eliminate (e.g. via automation) private sector jobs. So then what? A few ultra-rich who own the robots and the rest of us wasting our time, energy and morale doing make-work for government?

Andrew Anderson said...

Answer to question 1: It's a job guarantee. Tom Hickey

If governments want to provide opportunities for volunteer labor, then let them.

Thus we can have a UBI or BIG and truly volunteer labor for the public sector. What's not to like?

Ralph Musgrave said...

MRW, I sure you’re right to say that a NORMAL job (i.e. a fully viable non-JG job) increases people’s “dignity and standing”. The extent to which that applies to JG jobs is debatable because it’s normally obvious to most people that JG jobs are not normal productive jobs: they are relatively UNPRODUCTIVE. If they were PRODUCTIVE, they’d exist anyway, i.e. even without the JG subsidy. The WPA in the US in the 1930s was sometimes referred to by those doing those jobs as “we piddle around”.

Also even without JG, the unemployed are free to engage in some of the activities often cited as being suitable for JG like helping pensioners with their gardens. But none of them ever offer to do that in my experience. Reason is they (understandably) prefer the above leisure type activities I mentioned: watching TV, drinking beer, etc.

The above problem with WPA/JG can be reduced if JG people are subsidized into work with EXISTING employers (public and private) as I was advocating 20 years ago, and as I advocated more recently here:

http://kspjournals.org/index.php/JEPE/article/view/1237

Not only do "existing employer" jobs LOOK LIKE normal jobs, thus they tend not to be seen as "piddle around", but also there are THEORETICAL reasons for thinking they are more productive than WPA type jobs.

Also the evidence from Swiss JG schemes is that peoples’ employment record subsequent to doing JG type work is better where they get subsidized PRIVATE sector jobs rather than charity or public sector jobs. That’s not desperately surprising: most private employers live in the real work: most of them s*dding have to produce what the customer wants else they go bust. That concentrates the mind no end.

MRW said...

Ralph,

The extent to which that applies to JG jobs is debatable because it’s normally obvious to most people that JG jobs are not normal productive jobs: they are relatively UNPRODUCTIVE.

That wasn’t Warren’s experience in Argentina in 2000/2001. When a student of his work introduced it in that country.

MRW said...

Ralph,

The WPA in the US in the 1930s was sometimes referred to by those doing those jobs as “we piddle around”.

Those are not the facts. The WPA built over 3500 schools, the Hoover Dam, new hospitals (forget how many). Here’s a list you can find online.

The W.P.A. created:

650,000 miles of roads
78,000 bridges
125,000 civilian and military buildings
800 airports and 700 miles of airport runways
1500 nursery schools
900 million hot school lunches
225,000 concerts to audiences totaling 150 million
Plays and performances to audiences totaling 30 million
475,000 works of art
276 full-length books

Neil Wilson said...

"they are relatively UNPRODUCTIVE."

By what measuring stick?

By the social value measuring stick 95% of all finance sector activity is unproductive. Bitcoin is definitely unproductive and destructive to the environment (it requires the electricity of a small country to operate, not to mention millions of GPUs that could be doing protein folding calculations to find new drugs).

Huge swathes of the market value service industry is unproductive in social terms. Advertising is largely a waste of time - equivalent to everybody having to stand up in a stadium because one person has. Marketing is about psychological manipulation of the population and is actually a marketing term for propaganda.

So your critique falls at the first hurdle. We're not measuring things in market value terms, because market value does not equal social value - as the financial crisis and the raft of monetary inequality demonstrates in spades.

If a disabled person does their very best and produces one greeting card for others per year at great effort with a huge team of people in support, and it makes the individual happy and fulfilled in their life then that is sufficient social value delivered to the rest of society to receive a living wage.

You would see that as subsidy. I see it as equality.

So the question is: does the majority of society see things my way, or your way. We have a vote and decide which viewpoint we follow as a society.

Ralph Musgrave said...

MRW,

Re the productivity or lack of involved in JG jobs, it is inevitable that the most productive jobs (public sector and private sector) get priority. Put another way, JG involves, to put in an unflattering way, "scratching around for something else to do". Thus JG jobs are inevitably RELATIVELY unproductive, which is not to say they are totally unproductive.

Re Argentina, the Jefes scheme there was trying to combat VERY HIGH levels of unemployment. That's a scenario where there is a relatively good availability of skilled labour from the dole queue. But that's also a scenario where standard stimulus will work without causing excess inflation. Ergo that is not the role for which JG is uniquely suited. I.e. the gap in the market that JG can fill is creating jobs once standard stimulus has cut unemployment to the lowest level that it can (roughly 5% of the workforce).

Re the large number of civil engineering projects the WPA undertook, I am well aware of those. However, that argument suffers from the above mentioned weakness, namely that unemployemnt in the 1930s was at a disastrously high level: a scenario where there is a good availability of skilled labour from the dole queue - not the role for which JG is best suited.

Andrew Anderson said...

Neil ("Arbeit macht frei") Wilson aa

Actually, the Bible says "In all labor there is profit ..." Proverbs 14:23. So work is good.

But what Neil and others JGers promote is not the ability to work via, say, land* and other asset reform. Instead, they promote wage slavery to government.

*e.g. Landless apartment dwellers are greatly limited in the work they may perform.

MRW said...

Ralph,

Re Argentina, the Jefes scheme there was trying to combat VERY HIGH levels of unemployment. That's a scenario where there is a relatively good availability of skilled labour from the dole queue.

No, it wasn’t. The program was put in place to assist a high level of single head-of-household mothers (2 million) who were existing in poverty, and who could not get jobs in the private sector. They couldn’t even find jobs as maids or childcare workers because of the disastrous Argentinian economy. The Jefes program lifted them out of poverty, and gave them skills that altered their status in society and improved their lives and eventually the country’s bottom line.

MRW said...

Ralph,

a scenario where there is a good availability of skilled labour from the dole queue - not the role for which JG is best suited.

That’s exactly what it’s best suited for.