Basic income ala job guarantee? Oinarrizko errenta ala lan bermea?

Oinarrizko errenta? Ez, mila esker! Lan bermea, arren!

Sarrera gisa, ikus Lan bermea: Espainian ikasi dute (batzuek!), Euskal Herrian ez!


Pavlina Tcherneva-ren The Argument Against Basic Income1.


(i) “The Job Guarantee” featuring Pavlina Tcherneva2

(ii) A Global Marshall Plan for Joblessness?3: proposamena4 eta esperientzia historikoa5

4 Ingelesez: “This proposal is for a coordinated approach in the form of a Global Marshall Plan for the unemployed that tackles a wide array of global problems by deliberate and direct action, and by mobilizing the planet’s most abundant resource – labor.

No workfare, no bullshit jobs, no compulsory work, no digging holes. A global Marshall plan would offer employment opportunities to the unemployed in every country, while addressing country-specific problems. As the world faces the consequences of climate change, the Marshall Plan can be the big-push policy that puts the unemployed to work in a Global Green New Deal program. Whether it involves green projects, infrastructure projects, community projects, or care projects, there is no shortage of projects that need doing.”

5 Ingelesez: “In 1948, against all odds, President Truman pushed for a sizeable program, which helped end the economic crisis in Europe. There was little political will. The conversion to peacetime production in the U.S. was not easy. In 1948, the economy was sliding into its second post-war recession. Unemployment at home temporarily soared, food shortages abounded, and policy makers advocated austerity. The country had just emerged from a period of extraordinary deficit spending to fight WWII, and many feared that the Plan would finally “bankrupt America”. But the Marshall Plan passed.

The price tag: $5 billion dollars in 1948. That was about 2% of U.S. GDP and 11% of government spending that year. In the following three years, the Marshall plan disbursed $8 billion more. Later, it was replaced by the 1951 Mutual Security Plan and, by the time it expired, the U.S. was providing $7 billion annually to Europe until 1961.

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act authorized $848 billion in economic stimulus, spread over 4 years, or a little over 1% of GDP per year. It aimed to save or create 3-4 million jobs. Had the funds been disbursed as they were under the New Deal, namely towards direct employment programs and public investment, the ARRA could have created 20 million living-wage jobs, virtually wiping out all of the unemployment and underemployment in the U.S.

Many countries have experimented with small- and large-scale direct job creation programs. These are true and tested policies that are relatively inexpensive and bring great many social and economic benefits. To tackle global unemployment, nothing short of a Marshall Plan for the Unemployed will do.” (1 bilioi amerikar = mila milioi europar)

Iruzkinak (8)

  • joseba

    Employer of Last Resort: a Completely American Solution to Unemployment

    “An Employer of Last Resort, also known as a job guarantee (JG), is exactly what it sounds like. It is a promise by the government through either private partners or government institutions to provide a job to any worker who is able and willing to work but cannot find suitable (or any) employment in the private sector.
    In December of 2014, well before his decision to run for President, Bernie Sanders appointed Stephanie Kelton to be the Chief Economist for the Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee. Dr. Kelton is a Research scholar at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, the founder and Editor in Chief of one of the world’s most prescient economics blogs New Economic Perspectives and an Associate Professor at the University of Kansas City Missouri. She is also one of the leading proponents of a federally funded ELR.
    As one of the world’s most prominent experts in the field of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) she is fully aware of the policy options available to a sovereign country which issues its own free floating currency. That is a country like the United States which issues money in its own unit of account- the Dollar- and does not tie the value of the currency to any commodities like gold or to foreign currencies through a peg (like the Chinese do with the Renminbi)…”

  • joseba

    Oinarrizko errenta:

    Work is important for human well-being

    “One proposal that seems to have captivated so-called progressive political forces is that of the need for a basic income guarantee. As regular readers will know I am a leading advocate for employment guarantees. I consider basic income proposals to represent a surrender to the neo-liberal forces – an acceptance of the inevitability of mass unemployment. In that sense, the proponents have been beguiled by the notion that the state can do nothing about the unemployment. It is curious that they think the state is thus powerful enough to redistribute income. I also consider basic income proposals demonstrate a lack of imagination of what work could become and a very narrow conception of the role of work in human well-being.”

    Bill Mitchell-en Is there a case for a basic income guarantee – Part 1

    “The Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) – uncertain motivation, error-prone macroeconomics

    The ‘progressive’ case for income guarantees

    Mitchell and Watts (2004) explored these and other destructive dynamics in detail. The conclusion is that the introduction of a BIG policy is likely to be highly problematic with respect its capacity to deliver both sustained full employment and price stability.
    A sound policy also has to be viable if the extremes of that policy are encountered. It is obvious that the basic income proposal does not satisfy that requirement.
    As more an more individuals opted for the basic income without work, output would drop dramatically and material prosperity would be violated. Leisure and consumption are closely related.
    Further, given the logic employed by the basic income proponents that the government providing the basic income is financially constrained, the logic means that as increasing numbers of workers ‘liberated’ themselves by taking the basic income, the capacity of the government to sustain it would diminish.
    In other words, on its own grounds, the basic income proposal is limited in scope.”

    [Reference: Mitchell, W.F. and Watts, M.J. (2004) ‘Comparison of the Macroeconomic Consequences of Basic Income and Job Guarantee Schemes’, Rutgers Journal of Law and Urban Policy, 2 1-24.]

  • joseba

    Is there a case for a basic income guarantee – Part 2

    “(…) Whatever you think of the morality of having a system where some people work while others are supported in one way or another without having to work, even though they could (so I exclude the aged, sick, severely disabled here), the fact remains that a policy proposal won’t get much traction from me if it has a deep inflation bias and adopts neo-liberal explanations for economic outcomes like unemployment. I will also never support a proposal that absolves the national government from taking responsibility for providing enough work via its currency capacities and treats individuals expediently as ‘consumption units’ – to be maintained at minimum material levels. (…)
    What is the problem that needs to be addressed?
    It is obvious that the basic income advocates attempt to solve the income insecurity directly but, in so doing, fail to address its underlying causes – namely unemployment.
    But even more telling is that basic income proponents, in general, categorically fail to understand the realities of modern money in fiat currency economies. Accordingly, they operate within the false belief that such governments are financially constrained.
    This, in turn, exposes the basic income approach to the criticism that it would be prone to an inflationary bias relative to a scheme that guarantees employment and that the inflation tendency would increase as the generosity of the guarantee increased.
    The problem of income insecurity
    The basic income approach to income insecurity is based on what Mitchell and Watts (2004) called a “false premise and a curious inconsistency”.
    The false premise relates to the failure to understand that a fiat currency-issuing government is never revenue constrained.
    The inconsistency arises because the competing policy responses (BIG or Job Guarantee) both require the ideological and political barriers, relating to philosophical notions of citizenship and individual rights, be confronted and overcome.
    A currency-issuing government always chooses the unemployment rate once the spending and saving decisions of the non-government sector are taken.
    But when compared to a full-scale public sector employment program, the basic income guarantee is a second-rate option, which is inherently inflationary.
    The essential cause of income insecurity
    John Maynard Keynes demonstrated categorically that mass unemployment arose when total spending in the economy was deficient rather than the result of excessive wages.
    That message has become obscured in the neo-liberal era as mainstream economists have returned to the defunct and flawed pre-Keynesian notions because they are more consistent with their anti-government leanings.
    Basic income proponents move in lockstep with these neo-liberal narratives in this regard.
    But the concept of ‘rents’ being available in the first place can be expressed more simply. It just arises from a shortage of jobs. There is nothing ‘natural’ about the fact that some people have jobs and others do not.
    Basic income proponents adopt a ‘scarcity’ of jobs as a starting point without understanding what is driving the jobs shortage. The fact that there is a departure from full employment arises not as an inevitability but, rather, from defective macroeconomic policy, which reflects, among other things, the austerity mindset that has dominated the recent era.
    Basic income proponents thus are trapped into adopting the belief that governments are financially constrained and can do nothing to increase the available jobs. Point, set and match to the neo-liberals.
    BIG theory and Modern Monetary Theory
    An understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) allows us to appreciate that much of the debate about the viability of the BIG is conducted on the false premise that the government is financially constrained.
    (…) any sovereign government has a monopoly over the issue of fiat-currency and, as such, its spending choices are never intrinsically revenue constrained.
    The neo-liberal myth that governments can ‘run out of money’ starts with a false analogy between household and government budgets.
    All the constraints such a government faces are either voluntary (political and ideological) or induced by a lack of real resources available for purchase.
    At times of mass unemployment it is hard to argue that there are significant real resource constraints on government spending.
    The currency-issuing government has an obligation to ensure that its net spending (government spending in excess of tax revenue or fiscal deficit) is sufficient to maintain full employment.
    Once we recognise that there is no financial constraint on government spending, many of the problems that would arise if a modest basic income was introduced can be avoided. (…)”

  • joseba

    Is there a case for a basic income guarantee – Part 3

    “(…) It is inescapable that the basic income proposal lacks what I call an inflation anchor. That is, to provide an adequate stipend and generate full employment (ensure there are enough jobs for all who want to work), the basic income guarantee is inherently inflationary and sets in place destructive macroeconomic dynamics which make it unsustainable. To suppress the inherent inflationary bias of the proposal, the stipend has to be so low that the recipients are freed from work but not poverty. The Job Guarantee, by way of contrast, is designed to provide an explicit inflation anchor and allows the government to continuously maintain full employment and provide a decent wage to those who from time to time will be in the Job Guarantee pool. It does not rely on poverty wages or unemployment to maintain price stability. That alone is a fundamental advantage of the Job Guarantee over the basic income guarantee – it is sustainable.
    The basic income proposal lacks any coherent inflation control
    The Job Guarantee is consistent with both full employment and price stability
    An economy reliant on the basic income guarantee to solve the problems of income insecurity brought about by the tendency of capitalist economies to mass unemployment is inherently inflation.
    Even though the introduction of a basic income guarantee can engineer a state of full employment if the fiscal stimulus associated with its introduction is sufficient, it does so by promoting an artificial reduction in the supply of labour and the resulting shrinkage in the productive capacity of the economy renders such a nation vulnerable to accelerating inflation.
    In other words, an economy built on a basic income guarantee does not have the capacity to deliver both sustained full employment and price stability.
    The basic income proposal can only reduce the inflation risk by paying a low stipend and suppressing overall spending in the economy by maintaining mass unemployment.
    As soon as the basic income stipend rises sufficiently to become broadly attractive, the labour supply contraction sets off forces that lead to accelerating inflation.(…)”

  • joseba

    Is there a case for a basic income guarantee – Part 4 – robot edition

    “(…) The march of the robots is the latest pretext that basic income proponents (including the IMF now) use to justify their policy advocacy. There is some truth in the claims that the so-called ‘second machine age’, marked by the arrival of robots, is not only gathering speed, but is different from the first period of machine development with respect to its capacity to wipe out human involvement in production. But the claims are somewhat over the top. Further the claims that these trends are inevitable are in denial of the basic capacities of the state to legislate in the common interest. While the innovations in technology will free labour from repetitive and boring work and improve productivity in those tasks, there is no inevitability that robots will develop outside the legislative framework administered by the state and overrun humanity (even if the predictions of robot autonomy are at all realistic). We will surely need to develop a coherent adjustment framework to allow these transitions to occur equitably and where they are not possible (due to limits on worker capacity) alternative visions of productive work are developed?
    Further, the Job Guarantee is a better vehicle for handling these type of transitions and creating new forms of productive work. Adopting a basic income guarantee in this context just amounts to surrender.
    What about robots?
    As time has passed, basic income proponents have moved from a concern about unemployment driven by the fluctuations in the economic cycle to trend issues relating to the collapse of employment in general.
    They use the increase in robots in production processes is another pretext for advocating the introduction of a basic income guarantee. Even the IMF is now buying into this line of argument.
    The IMF solution:
    1. Tax the rising income on capital – that is redistribute the “income from capital”.
    2. The redistribution would come via the introduction of a basic income guarantee.
    The IMFs intervention into the debate, which no doubt will elevate the basic income proposal a few notches among mainstream economists, provides no new insights at all.
    It is the same argument that has been used for centuries that predicts technology will create an employment void for workers.
    The robot argument goes, more or less like this. Yes, there has been constant changes in technology which has impacted on types of employment on offer for hundreds of years and the C19th Luddites were wrong.
    Even though machines have substituted for labour, sometimes at a rapid pace over the last few centuries of capitalist production, history tells us that there is also strong “complementarities between automation and labor that increase productivity, raise earnings, and augment demand for labour”
    The automation debate is typically constructed within a known vector of job types. The basic income proponents adopt this simplistic vision of the future.
    Accordingly, the basic income proponents claim that as automation will wipe out a number of elements in this vector (the low-skill elements mostly), the only way to allow the affected individuals access to the distribution system (in a society becoming increasingly wealthy overall because of the productivity gains) is to introduce an income guarantee.
    But suppose the vector of jobs is redefined by changing our concept of productive work. What we define as productive work is really only limited by our imagination, which relates back to our earlier discussion of the ‘gainful worker’ approach that has dominated the debate since the C19th.
    In that sense, while the Job Guarantee plays an immediate and essential role in providing access to the distributional system without jettisoning the human need for work and accords with current societal goals which value contribution, it also provides a progressive (if not radical) framework for re-envisaging the concept of productive work.
    The clue is that the divergence between employment and real wages growth on the one hand, and, labour productivity growth on the other hand, has been a defining characteristic of the neo-liberal era, where capital strategically invested resources to break down the sense of societal collective and co-opted the state to attack trade unions and maintain persistently high levels of labour underutilisation, which have made it difficult for workers to pursue and receive real wages growth in line with labour productivity growth.
    It has less to do with the technological shifts and a lot to do with the sense of compliance and acquiescence that workers have assumed in this hostile neo-liberal era.
    (…) Of course, robots are becoming increasingly agile and will probably be able to replace a large number of jobs that rely on routinised and predictable action.
    That trend has been on-going since the capitalists worked out better ways of securing the surplus production.
    But just as children were banned from the workplace in advanced nations as an act of social policy, the state has the capacity to determine how the technology that is developed is deployed.
    We produce highly technological motor vehicles that can be driven at exotic speeds but we force them to obey limits that are well within their overall capacity. Why? Because we empower the state to protect our common interests.
    If robots and computers threaten our very survival then it is somewhat far-fetched to expect that we will allow the state to be totally compliant and allow robots to take over and drive out humans from the workplace.
    There will always be options and alternatives and it is the role of the state to create a legal framework which advances the interests of the citizens in general.
    While the innovations in technology will free labour from repetitive and boring work and improve productivity in those tasks, there is no inevitability that robots will develop outside the legislative framework administered by the state and overrun humanity (even if the predictions of robot autonomy are at all realistic).
    The more apposite question is what will happen to unskilled workers who are unable, even with training assistance, to make the transition from machine operator to machine maintainer or designer?
    The answer is to develop a coherent adjustment framework to allow these transitions to occur equitably and where they are not possible (due to limits on worker capacity) alternative visions of productive work are developed?
    We will need to envisage new jobs which are currently outside of what we consider, as a society, to be productive activities.
    We will introduce what we call a Just Transition Framework, which has to become a central aspect of a progressive future.
    This framework allows the benefits of technology to be enjoyed by all even if specific cohorts of workers have to change careers mid-stream.
    We will argue that the basic income response to the challenge of robots is a denial of the prospects that a ‘Just Transition’ can provide.
    Conversely, we will argue that a Job Guarantee becomes an integral aspect of a ‘Just Transition’ and provides a variety of productive options for individuals confronted with the need to change jobs and retrain as robots and other technologies impact on their work prospects.”

  • joseba

    Is there a case for a basic income guarantee – Part 5

    “(…) (…) I consider how society establishes a fair transition environment to cope with climate change and the impacts of computerisation etc. I outline a coherent adjustment framework to allow these transitions to occur equitably and where they are not possible (due to limits on worker capacity) alternative visions of productive work are developed? I argue that while work, in general, is coercive under capitalism, the provision of employment guarantees is a more equitable approach than relying as the basic income advocates envision on the exploitation of some to provide the freedom for others. Further, I argue that the Job Guarantee is a better vehicle for creating new forms of productive work. Adopting a basic income guarantee in this context just amounts to surrender. (…)
    Just Transition Framework
    The Just Transition Framework first entered the public debate in the 1990s as a result of the pioneering work of Canadian trade unionist Brian Kohler who emphasised that environmental preservation and employment were not trade-offs…
    The idea of a Just Transition is that it allows the benefits of new green technologies to be introduced but, at the same time, provides a “safeguard” for people who “work in jobs that will become obsolete” as a result of “unsustainable production” processes
    Whether the source of disruption is climate change or the march of robots, economic restructuring is a painful process and is, typically, spatially concentrated, which raises significant issues for the social settlement (where people live).
    It is the responsibility of the state to put in place a framework that minimises the impact of these disruptions on people and regions that are affected by them.
    A progressive vision should ensure that these impacts are not only minimised but also shared across the nation.
    Is the provision of a basic income sufficient to absorb these negative impacts on people of the loss of jobs that follow the accelerated introduction of robots?
    The answer is clearly not.
    A better response is to provide new opportunities to work for workers who, in the interests of Society in general have to give up work as a result of climate change or who are displaced by the manifestations of the ‘second machine age’.
    A ‘just transition’ ensures that the costs of economic restructuring and the shift to sustainability do not fall on workers in targeted industries and their communities. It would also help manage the impacts of the second machine age.
    A just transition in any threatened region or sector requires government intervention and community partnerships to create the regulatory framework, infrastructure and market incentives for the creation of well-paid, secure, healthy, satisfying environmentally-friendly jobs with particular attention to appropriately meeting the needs of affected workers and their communities.
    Government support in a progressive world must include:
    Assistance for both displaced workers and for contractors;
    Adequate notice of workplace change and closures;
    Consultation with and full engagement of relevant unions;
    Support for innovation and partnerships for new local industries, research and development and infrastructure investments;
    Training and alternative employment tailored to local and individual needs and opportunities;
    Special targeted support for older, disabled and less educated workers;
    Relocation assistance for displaced workers;
    Income maintenance, redundancy entitlements and retraining allowances;
    Cheap loans and subsidies for new industries and employers;
    Compensation and equipment buy-outs for contractors;
    Assistance programs extended to workers employed by contractors;
    A just transition requires investment in training programs and apprenticeships to create a highly trained ‘green’ workforce;
    The introduction of a Job Guarantee to provide continuous employment for all those without work.
    The Just Transition framework provides a dynamic environment to allow an individual, their families, their regions to make adjustments that will enhance their future prospects.
    Among other things, the Framework values jobs and require that all people have access to decent work wherever they choose to live.
    If the private sector is unable to create sufficient job opportunities then the public sector has to stand ready to provide the vital employment.
    That is the basis of the Job Guarantee, which is one plank in a broad adjustment environment described above.
    The ‘freedom’ of a basic income guarantee against the ‘enslavement’ of an employment guarantee
    While many opponents of employment guarantees seem to believe they are just schemes to enslave workers in pointless work (the ‘boondoggling’ critique), the Job Guarantee should, in fact, be an essential part of a progressive liberal and radical agenda to transform the way we use the economy to advance a very broad and egalitarian conception of public purpose.
    As discussed earlier, work is intrinsic to human existence. We seek to transform nature to live.
    Certainly, history has evolved to the stage where the organisation of that effort – Capitalism – is oppressive and the anathema of liberation, despite the wage form making it look as though we have freedom to choose.
    But we need to separate the specific form of work organisation from the intrinsic meaning of work for people. People will still seek ways to ‘work’ and will have to continue working, even if we liberate ourselves from the specific yoke of Capitalism.
    Basic income seems to construct humans as meagre consumption units where a small stipend, of sufficient amount such that the person can continue to consume at survival levels is provided.
    Individuals are then allegedly going to ‘work’ at play while an unprepared society applauds their inventiveness. The reality would be quite different.
    Basic income proponents like to construct what for them is a meaningful dichotomy, which contrasts the so-called ‘freedom’ that the provision of a basic income provides individuals with the ‘enslavement’ that an employment guarantee offers.
    However, if the ‘freedom’ of non-work runs counter with social attitudes towards work and non-work and or doesn’t provide sufficient ‘income’ under the basic income guarantee in recognition of the fact that consumption of leisure requires monetary resources, then the appeal might be hollow.
    Further, as we have seen earlier in this mini-series, there is a growing recognition that work plays a much more significant role in society and in the lives of individuals than merely providing an income. We are not just ‘consumption units’.
    Until we change social values as they pertain to the concept of productive endeavour and broaden what is considered to be meaningful work, we have to design solution that recognise these values.
    In this context, the case made for the Job Guarantee leaves two outstanding and important issues to be discussed:
    Is a compulsory Job Guarantee overly-coercive; and
    Does the BI model introduce dynamics that can take us beyond the oppressive reliance on work for income security?
    We deal with the first point in this section and the second point in the following section.
    We should start by noting that a Society can choose to have whatever transfer system its sees fit (including the provision of unemployment benefits) running parallel with the introduction of a Job Guarantee.
    The latter does not demand a total abandonment of the existing income support schemes.
    But a strong case can be made that individuals in any coherent society have an obligation to give back to the community that is guaranteeing them a job and the broad benefits that accompany that guarantee.
    Most societies are not yet ready to create a class of individuals of working age and amenable health to draw a living income without directly contributing something back to society (output).
    That starting point conditions the way we might think about coercion with in the context of a Job Guarantee
    Is a compulsory Job Guarantee overly-coercive? One of the essential criteria for a sustainable full employment policy is that it not violate the current social attitudes towards work and non-work.
    So the basic income (…), which abandons the principle that individuals who can work and have the ability to work, should do so for the benefit of all, would appear to be a very partial interpretation of the concept of a communist society where workers are ‘free’.
    There has been considerable research done by social scientists which suggests that people still consider work to be a central aspect of life and there are deep-seated views about deservingness and responsibility for one’s circumstances.
    These views translate into very firm attitudes about mutual obligation (reciprocity) and how much support should be provided to the unemployed.
    While these attitudes are at times expressed in an ugly way and are exploited by right wingers to divide-and-conquer the working class, the fact remains that they are ingrained and will take time to shift.
    Further, most unemployed workers indicate in surveys that they prefer to work rather than be provided with income support.
    By creating circumstances in which an individual’s opportunity to engage in paid employment and earn a living wage is guaranteed, the Job Guarantee would support current social attitudes towards work and non-work; and as a policy mechanism would dampen any resentment felt towards that proportion of unemployed persons who are currently perceived as undeserving of state support and assistance.
    The Job Guarantee approach overrides the free-rider option that is available under an unconditional basic income.
    In a society which accords value to the notion of reciprocity, the guaranteed work model ensures that no social group is considered to be solely viewed as ‘consumption units’ – to be fed and clothed by the State but ignored in terms of their social needs for work and human interaction within the work place.
    If the vast majority of workers prefer to work then the systemic failure to provide a sufficient quantum of jobs imposes harsh costs that can be alleviated by the introduction of a Job Guarantee.
    In this regard, the Job Guarantee is a source of freedom – the capitalist property relations notwithstanding.
    But it is entirely possible that some people do not value work in any intrinsic sense and if confronted with the choice between the Job Guarantee and a basic income guarantee would take the latter option every time. A blanket Job Guarantee is thus coercive in its impact on this particular group.
    The basic income advocates would likely recommend a simple modification that would ‘merely’ make the Job Guarantee voluntary within the context of a universal basic income guarantee.
    Progressives should, rather, be at the forefront of collective engagement rather than advocating policies that smack of individualism.
    Of-course, provision of a basic income guarantee doesn’t preclude community action. Individuals may adopt a whole range of campaigns and activist agendas while being supported on the barest income guarantee.
    A characteristic of the neo-liberal era has been the elevation of ‘volunteerism’ to some virtuous heights. The morality runs deep through neo-liberal narratives when it works to reinforce the redistribution of income towards the top.
    The reality is that the functions that are now considered to be the ambit of the volunteers were previously, in many cases, paid jobs.
    So if the basic income recipients are engaged in these agendas then why wouldn’t they want to be paid for their work?
    The Job Guarantee would replace the neo-liberal agenda to reduce the size of the public sector contained within the so-called ‘volunteerism’ crusade.
    It would also highlight how many previous jobs have become voluntary activities despite their value to society.
    Further, from a Marxist perspective, a basic income guarantee offers the hope of separating an individual’s subsistence from any necessity that they produce surplus value.
    Accordingly, proposals like the Job Guarantee are met with derision because they represent the antithesis of individual freedom. Even if the vast majority of individuals desire to be employed, a flexible system would also permit those who did not want to work to enjoy life on the income guarantee.
    By denying citizens the opportunity to choose between the Job Guarantee and the non-work alternative of the basic income guarantee, it is alleged that the Job Guarantee becomes an unnecessarily coercive and harsh system.
    However, most basic income guarantee proponents also consider that the national government faces a fiscal constraint – which makes their macroeconomic conception indistinguishable from that touted by the neo-liberals.
    By taking the orthodox government budget constraint version of the basic income guarantee at face value, its proponents are confronted with a major dilemma.
    To ‘finance’ the scheme some people have to work and thus, create surplus value. It is difficult to believe that all those who are working are choosing to work in preference to not working. However, under capitalist property relations, workers in general have to work to survive.
    …, many capitalist economies now suffer the dual wastage – entrenched unemployment and increasing time-related underemployment (with implied inadequacy of employment situations).
    It is highly likely that the introduction of the Job Guarantee will place pressure on private employers, particularly in the low-skill service sectors to restructure their workplaces to overcome the discontent that their underemployed workers feel.
    A full-time Job Guarantee position at wages not significantly different from the low pay in the private sector service industries would appear attractive relative to a private job that rations the worker hours.
    In this regard, the Job Guarantee would offer flexibility to workers. Some would prefer part-time jobs while others would require full-time jobs within the Job Guarantee.
    It should be obvious this flexibility can accommodate virtually any requirement of workers. Further, it is very easy to design the program in such a way that child care services will be provided by Job Guarantee workers, to accommodate parental needs.
    A transformative and radical framework for an inclusive society
    …, the basic income guarantee approach contains a dynamic that can steer society away from capitalism towards a communist state. Marxist supporters of the basic income guarantee see this as a major advantage, a palliative under capitalism but also the seed to its end.
    What is the validity of this claim?
    Around the world there are several trends that challenge the traditional notions of work and income:
    There rise in part-time and precarious employment.
    Elevated and persistent levels of unemployment.
    Growing and significant underemployment.
    Increasing polarisation of income distributions and rising income and wealth inequality.
    The impacts of the ‘second machine age’.
    The traditional moral views about the virtues of work – which are exploited by the capitalist class – clearly need to be recast.
    A progressive vision cannot embrace a capitalist labour market where a rising number and proportion of workers are finding it difficult to get sufficient work and/or pay rises in line with productivity.
    In many countries, real wages growth has been flat or going backwards for a few decades now as the top-end-of-town capture an increasing proportion of the real income produced.
    (…) Our Progressive Manifesto seeks ways to make the transition away from the destructive dynamics that characterise the neo-liberal labour market.
    Clearly, social policy can play a part in engendering this debate and help establish transition dynamics. However, it is likely that a non-capitalist system of work and income generation is needed before the yoke of the work ethic and the stigmatisation of non-work is fully expunged.
    The question is how to make this transition in light of the constraints that capital places on the working class and the State.
    Basic income guarantee advocates consider their approach provides workers with the necessary options to reject the capitalist ‘gainful’ worker approach by breaking the nexus between surplus value creation and income receipt at the individual level.
    But, Job Guarantee proponents argue that there is a need to embrace a broader concept of work in the first phase of decoupling work and income.
    However, they argue that trying to impose this new culture of non-work on to society as it currently exists is unlikely to be a constructive approach. The patent resentment of the unemployed will only be transferred to the “surfers on Malibu” (using Van Parijs’ conception of life on basic income!)
    The Job Guarantee provides a superior vehicle to establish a new employment paradigm where community development jobs become valued.
    Over time and within this new Job Guarantee employment paradigm, public debate and education can help broaden the concept of valuable work until activities which we might construe today as being ‘leisure’ (non-work) would eventually be considered to be productive employment.
    For example, imagine we allow struggling musicians, artists, surfers, Thespians, and the like to be able to be employed within the Job Guarantee.
    In return for the income security, the surfer might be required to conduct water safety awareness for school children; and musicians might be required to rehearse some days a week in school and thus impart knowledge about band dynamics and increase the appreciation of music to interested children.
    Reciprocity is clear in these cases. The surfer receives income security because he/she is employed to surf but is productive because they also provide value to society beyond their own hapiness. Win-win.
    A surfer who has no reciprocal responsibilities under a basic income guarantee provides nothing to society in general.
    Further, basic income advocates like to hold out community activism as something that would increase under a basic income guarantee.
    But why not declare these activities to be a Job Guarantee job. For example, organising and managing a community garden to provide food for the poor could be classified as a paid job. We would see more of that activity if it was rewarded in this way. What might be a selfish activity under basic income could become a society-enriching and productive activity if the gardeners were required to redistribute their produce.
    By gradually re-defining the concept of productive work well beyond the realms of “gainful work” which specifically related to activities that generated private profits for firms, a Job Guarantee sets us up for the future.
    The conception of productivity (and efficiency) as a social, shared, and public outcome is then only limited by one’s imagination.
    In this way, the Job Guarantee becomes an evolutionary force – providing income security to those who want it but also the platform for wider definitions of what we mean by work!
    Social attitudes take time to evolve and are best reinforced by changes in the educational system. The social fabric must be rebuilt over time.
    The change in the mode of production through evolutionary means will not happen overnight, and concepts of community wealth and civic responsibility that have been eroded over time, by the divide and conquer individualism of the neo-liberal era, have to be restored.
    The Job Guarantee provides a strong evolutionary dynamic in terms of establishing broader historical transitions away from the unemployment (and income insecurity) that is intrinsic to the capitalist mode of production. The Job Guarantee provides a short-run palliative and a longer-term force for historical change.
    The basic income guarantee is found lacking in this regard on all counts.
    We have outlined many reasons for opposing the introduction of a basic income guarantee. We believe it entrenches the notion of a dependency on passive welfare payments.
    Given current social values towards work and non-work, a basic income guarantee creates a stigmatised cohort.
    It does not provide any inflation buffer. Either the scheme is mean-spirited (low stipend) and thus self-defeating or it provides a decent living income but then blows up as a result of its inflationary bias.
    Many people argue that the non-work of basic income recipients is equivalent to the unproductive work of a Job Guarantee workers (using narrow conceptions of productivity).
    Whether the Job Guarantee workers add to the productive capacity of the economy that can absorb growth in nominal demand or not is moot.
    The Job Guarantee pool will be small when the economy is operating at high pressure and large when private demand is weak. It works in a counter-cyclical fashion (as an automatic stabiliser) so even if the workers are adding nothing productive to the array of goods and services for sale demand is also weak.
    The basic income recipients add nothing productive to society (in the same sense we are using the term here) but receive the same income irrespective of the state of the cycle. That introduces the inflationary bias.
    Further, the basic income guarantee does not provide an architecture for individual capacity building. A basic income guarantee treats people who are unable to find adequate market-based work as ‘consumption’ entities and attempts to meet their consumption needs.
    The provision of a basic income guarantee provides no additional training or support structures for individual advancement. Some recipients might be individually motivated enough to advance their skills. Other will not unless there is formal support mechansims.
    Essentially, the basic income approach ignores the intrinsic social and capacity building role of participating in paid work.
    It is sometimes said that beyond all the benefits in terms of self-esteem, social inclusion, confidence-building, skill augmentation and the like, a priceless benefit of creating full employment is that the ‘children see at least one parent going to work each morning’.
    In other words, it creates an intergenerational stimulus that the basic income guarantee approach can never create.
    Unlike the basic income guarantee model, the Job Guarantee model meets these conditions within the constraints of a monetary capitalist system.
    The Job Guarantee is a far better vehicle to rebuild a sense of community and the purposeful nature of work. It is the only real alternative if intergenerational disadvantage is to be avoided.
    It also provides the framework whereby the concept of work itself can be broadened to include activities that many would currently dismiss as being leisure, which is consistent with the aspirations of some basic income advocates.
    The point is that over time, activities that basic income advocates think represent freedom (surfing) would become jobs under the Job Guarantee as out attitudes to work evolve in a progressive way.”

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