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So, if the administration can guarantee that too-big-to-fail banks stay in business, why can't they guarantee everyone a job?

Why not? Intereresting article from the Glob on economist Hyman Minsky. Read the whole thing for the ideas, but here's the policy prescription:

The preferred mainstream tactic for pulling the economy out of a crisis was - and is - based on the Keynesian notion of “priming the pump” by sending money that will employ lots of high-skilled, unionized labor - by building a new high-speed train line, for example.

Minsky, however, argued for a “bubble-up” approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled first. The government - or what he liked to call “Big Government” - should become the “employer of last resort,” he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage.

It would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. In being available to everyone, it would be even more ambitious than the New Deal, sharply reducing the welfare rolls by guaranteeing a job for anyone who was able to work. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but would put a floor beneath everyone else’s wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder.

While economists may be acknowledging some of Minsky’s points on financial instability, it’s safe to say that even liberal policymakers are still a long way from thinking about such an expanded role for the American government. If nothing else, an expensive full-employment program would veer far too close to socialism for the comfort of politicians.

Well, we have socialism for the banksters right now. So why not for everybody?

NOTE Via, of course, the great Yyves. Say, why can't we get this kind of political economy wonkiness on the A list?

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jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

I don't care if they're Democratic, Republican, Democratic Farm Labor, Working Families, Progressive, what have you. I don't care at what level.

But someone, somewhere, really should throw this out to the people: "What if we used all this bailout money to just give people some jobs? What if the government did the hiring?"

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

I don't tire of pointing out that sustained attention is what makes the radical feasible. Sure it would be a hissy fit now - big deal. Get it out there and keep getting it out there, and people will get used to the idea.

Submitted by lambert on

... if the neo-Wenner's hadn't gone, er, "legit." I'm just appalled at the sloppiness of the analysis, and how all the bad habits of Versailles are reproducing themselves.

I remember a book on the pre-World War I Vienna, about the journalist Karl Kraus, among others, who I believe called Vienna a "proving ground for world destruction" (contemporaneously (!)). The whole "public option" debacle reminds me of that.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

of those bargain-price IKEA chests and those contract-labor graduate-students teaching the classes at the university.

Community colleges -- in sharp contrast to the wankerdom about to be foisted off on us about community colleges by NBC's new "Thursday night sitcom, 'Community'" are actually places where you can get a professor to teach the night class at the satellite campus: somebody with a master's or a PhD they've already earned, not one they're still slaving for, and often they'll have several years of teaching experience.

What we don't understand in the US is that the Holy Grail shouldn't be "low price." It should be "value."

There is a huge difference, and no, it doesn't involve upsizing your soda and fries.

It involves paying living wages to workers whose housing, transportation, child care, and groceries don't cost so much that both adults in the typical household must hold at least one full-time job just to keep from ending up under a bridge, and that's provided no one becomes ill or injured.

Submitted by lambert on

... and as defined by those who have to live on it, too.