Back in the bad old days, a “guarantee” from the government might come in the form of a chicken in every pot. (Or in some states these days, the right to smoke some pot before ordering your chicken nuggets.) But how about a guarantee of a job for every adult paying a minimum of $15 per hour? That’s the plan that Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist – Vermont) is getting ready to unveil. Absolute, full employment for all American adults. But what if the employers around the country don’t have that many job openings? You can’t just force them to hire more people. No worries! According to Sanders, the government will just hire them all and put them on the payroll. (WaPo)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will announce a plan for the federal government to guarantee a job paying $15 an hour and health-care benefits to every American worker “who wants or needs one,” embracing the kind of large-scale government works project that Democrats have shied away from in recent decades.
Sanders’s jobs guarantee would fund hundreds of projects throughout the United States aimed at addressing priorities such as infrastructure, care giving, the environment, education and other goals. Under the job guarantee, every American would be entitled to a job under one of these projects or receive job training to be able to do so, according to an early draft of the proposal.
A representative from Sanders’s office said they had not yet done a cost estimate for the plan or decided how it would be funded, saying they were still crafting the proposal.
Reading that last sentence in the excerpt, we find that the reporters actually did demonstrate the audacity to ask Sanders’ office how much all this was going to cost. They don’t have an estimate yet. That’s either because they haven’t had time to get around to it or they tried, but a Cray supercomputer assigned to the task exploded when it attempted to generate a number that large.
This is such a bad idea that Sanders can’t even get most of the Democrats to agree with it. An economist from the Obama administration Treasury Department is quoted as saying, “It would be extremely expensive, and I wonder if this is the best, most targeted use of the amount of money it would cost.”
They found some supporters from liberal think tanks who are arguing that it would drive up wages across the board because the private sector would have to compete for potential employees. What they fail to point out is that this competition comes in the form of artificial, external pressure on the job market, not an actual case of supply and demand. They’re ignoring the fact that in a system of democratic capitalism such as ours, federal government employees are more of a necessary evil than anything else. (And plenty of you reading this would probably debate the “necessary” part.) The government produces no products and their services almost universally don’t produce any revenue. More to the point, the only way the government can gain the money to pay these workers is by taxing the income of people working in the private sector. The more workers the government hires, the more the private sector has to produce to cover the costs.
If Sanders wants to create jobs for things like infrastructure and education, he could at least propose shopping out those tasks to private companies who would fight to minimize overhead costs, hire private citizens to do the work and provide some fuel for the economy. We probably don’t need to worry about this coming to pass, but that’s not assured. He’s getting some high profile supporters, including at least one often mentioned Democratic POTUS hopeful for 2020.
If Republicans could give $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest among us, why can’t we invest a similar amount in a guaranteed jobs plan for regular Americans who are unemployed and willing to work to better their local community?
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) April 17, 2018