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Why we need a jobs guarantee

I missed this little gem from hippie puncher Ari Gibbs:

White House says recovery will take years
While many Americans may hope that recovery is around the corner, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said economic recovery will take years.

"This is going to take an enormous amount of time," he said.

Later, I asked him what he meant by "enormous amount of time."

"Well, I think it’s going to take several years," he said.

10% nominal (20% real) disemployment is the new normal. Mission accomplished!

"I just think it’s going to take a long time to get out of the hole that we found ourselves in. There weren’t any quick fixes. There aren’t any silver bullets. If there were, we would have done so.

"I think that speaks to the frustration** of what people are feeling. If you could hit a button or flip a switch or make something happen overnight, you certainly would do that. The problems that we face were long term, they were systemic, and they’re going to take some time."

Gibbs is ignorant or lying.* A Jobs Guarantee would give results very quickly:

A job guarantee program is one in which government promises to make a job available to any qualifying individual who is ready and willing to work. Qualifications required of participants could include age range (i.e. teens), gender, family status (i.e. heads of households), family income (i.e. below poverty line), educational attainment (i.e. high school dropouts), residency (i.e. rural), and so on. The most general program would provide a universal job guarantee, sometimes also called an employer of last resort (ELR) program in which government promises to provide a job to anyone legally entitled to work.

In the aftermath of its economic crisis that came with the collapse of its currency board, Argentina created Plan Jefes y Jefas that guaranteed a job for poor heads of households. (Tcherneva and Wray 2005) The program successfully created 2 million new jobs that not only provided employment and income for poor families, but also provided needed services and free goods to poor neighborhoods.

A Jobs Guarantee can be shown, through the evidence of past programs, to:

1. Go to work very fast

2. Create much needed infrastructure

In addition, the overwhelming evidence is that employers are not hiring because of low aggregate demand, not because of "skills mismatch" or any other neo-liberal alibi. So:

3. A Jobs Guarantee also solves the aggregate demand problem, too.

It puts in the pockets of the people who are most likely to spend it in the real economy, on food, and shelter, and transport, instead of on yachts, or botox operations, or by playing the ponies in the market and blowing it all.

Meaning: 10% nominal (20% real) disemployment is a policy choice, fully supported by both legacy parties and Versailles. It is not, as Gibbs pretends, inevitable, or "structural." It is a political choice, imposed on us by those who own and run the political system.

NOTE * That's not fair. Gibbs could be both ignorant and lying. He is, after all, a D who works for The Big O.

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vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Recalling Obama's bold campaign pronouncement: "Yes we might... in an enormous amount of time." Positively stirring, it was!

carissa's picture
Submitted by carissa on

It puts in the pockets of the people who are most likely to spend it

Shouldn't it be "It puts money in the pockets of the people who are most likely to spend it . . . "