Gobernua eta lanpostuak sortzea

Bill Mitchell-en How hard is it for the government to create some jobs?


(i) Sarrera gisa

The – Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights – for the UN was released this week (July 7, 2020). It was Philip Alston’s last report in that role. It is a shocking indictment of the way neoliberalism has distorted our societies and the way the governments with the capacity to ‘move mountains should they wish’ have been co-opted as agents of capital and perpetuate those distortions. The Report is 19 pages of horror. It also resonates with the latest information coming out of Australia’s Closing the Gap campaign, which aims to bring indigenous Australians up to the material level of non-indigenous Australians. The first ten years of the campaign have been an abject failure. And the latest targets don’t inspire any confidence that the outcomes will be any different. A lot of talk. A lot of consultants. But little effective action – for example, like just creating some jobs to reduce unemployment, allow for income security and poverty alleviation. How hard is it for the government to create some jobs?

The UN Report brings all the issues to a head:

The world is at an existential crossroads involving a pandemic, a deep economic recession, devastating climate change, extreme inequality, and an uprising against racist policies. Running through all of these challenges is the longstanding neglect of extreme poverty by many governments, economists, and human rights advocates.

I could have ended today’s post there really.

All of these ‘threats’ are manufactured by the neoliberal order and the compliance of states, and, dare I say, progressives, the latter who would rather feel good about themselves throwing statues into canals than facing up to the reality that our traditional Left parties have completely abandoned the space.

(ii) Nazio Batuen Txostena eta Mundu Bankua

The UN Report highlights a number of failures in the way the international community is dealing with poverty:

1. “COVID-19 is projected to push more than 70 million additional people into extreme poverty, and hundreds of millions more into unemployment and poverty”.

2. “More than 250 million people are at risk of acute hunger.”

3. “Poor people and marginalized communities have been the hardest hit in almost every country, both in terms of vulnerability to the virus and its economic consequences.”

4. “Climate change, temporarily eclipsed from the front pages, is also on target to exacerbate the phenomenon of ‘climate apartheid,’ ensuring that low- income people bear the brunt of unconscionable climate policies designed to protect the status quo.”

5. “And governments continue to pour money into repressive practices and carceral systems, while depriving poor communities of basic rights such as decent healthcare, housing, and education.”

Emphatically, the UN Report:

criticizes the mainstream pre-pandemic triumphalist narrative that extreme poverty is nearing eradication

You know the story – ‘we are nearing full employment’, ‘never had workers had it so good’, ‘the Eurozone is about convergence’, etc

The UN Report argues that the only way we can claim any progress to eliminating world poverty is because we rely on a ridiculously and deliberately set low hurdle – the “World Bank’s measure of extreme poverty”.

Using more appropriate measures shows “only a slight decline in the number of people living in poverty over the past thirty years.”

Further the “Millennium Development Goals” and the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” are inadequate and set up to distort reality.

At the centre is the World Bank (surprise surprise) who use their “financial and intellectual clout” to:

ensure that almost all of the most glowing accounts of progress use its IPL statistics.

IPL is their ‘international poverty line’ measure.

It is “not based on any direct assessment of the cost of essential needs” and is “well below the national poverty lines of most countries”.

So it is little wonder using the World Bank data that poverty declines are substantial. The reality is clearly different.

The UN Report talks about a “scandalous lack of ambition” and the IPL:

is explicitly designed to reflect a staggeringly low standard of living, well below any reasonable conception of a life with dignity.

The World Bank’s response to the criticisms over the years has been to remain “resolutely ambivalent”.

(iii) Pandemia

The pandemic

In recent days, the Victorian government has introduced very harsh lockdown rules on some low-income residential towers in Melbourne. They say they are to protect the residents but they are also protecting the well-heeled who continue to enjoy more freedom.

The problem gets worse in poorer nations.

The UN Report notes that:

The public health community’s mantra for coping with COVID-19 encapsulates the systemic neglect of those living in poverty. The pithy advice to “stay home, socially distance, wash hands, and see a doctor in case of fever” highlights the plight of the vast numbers who can do none of these things. They have no home in which to shelter, no food stockpiles, live in crowded and unsanitary conditions, and have no access to clean water or affordable medical care. Far from being the “great leveler,” COVID-19 is a pandemic of poverty, exposing the parlous state of social safety nets for those on lower incomes or in poverty around the world.


If social protection floors had been in place, the hundreds of millions left without medical care, adequate food and housing, and basic security would have been spared some of the worst consequences.

Why are these floors absent?


Mainstream economists telling governments that fiscal surpluses are responsible when social housing is depleted, when people haven’t enough work, when public health is being degraded, and all the rest of it.

I doubt many of these economists, most with well-paid tenured positions, are doing it tough at present.

(iv) SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals


The UN Report concludes that in relation to poverty, these goals:

call for an ‘end to poverty in all its forms everywhere.’ Yet the targets set do not actually seek to eliminate poverty … [the] … targets are patently inadequate to actually end poverty, and the prospects of achieving them are rapidly receding.

The same can be said for the advancement of human rights.

The UN Report criticises the reliance on privatisation to deliver the goals, “especially for the most vulnerable whose inclusion may not be profitable”.

Reliance on private sector funding will not achieve sustained improvements. Where profit is the motive, social needs fall by the wayside.


The UN Report talks about the “cherry picking, self-promotion and self-positioning” of participants to the international discussions.

Consultants everywhere.

I once did some work to develop a development plan for an indigenous community in Australia. They used my services because the main consultant in this exercise was moving through the remote communities with his ‘cut and paste’ finger well and truly exercised, producing multiple reports that said the same motherhood statements about ‘complexity of challenge’, ‘difficulty with x’ etc and just altered the name of the community and other specific references.

(v) Hazkundea eta pobrezia

Growth and poverty

The UN Report makes the obvious point that while mainstream economists urge economic growth, particularly export-led growth as a way ahead:

the promised benefits of growth either don’t materialize or aren’t shared.

Poverty rates rise as large energy and mining projects extract resources from poor nations.

Cash-crop agriculture displaces communities, “separating people from land they depend on for food, shelter and livelihoods, and resulting in impoverishment.”


The IMF and World Bank model for development is really a big vacuum cleaner sucking out resources and wealth and leaving nothing for the locals.

And then they impose harsh austerity on the government in return for debt enslavement which attacks public health, education and infrastructure.

The UN Report rejects the assertion by mainstream economists that:

pro-market policies automatically benefit the poor …

The claim is “at odds with the evidence”.

They favour global corporations and harm citizens through:

1. “poorer labor conditions”.

2. “weaker labor rights”.

3. “decreased state capacity”.

4. “reduced healthcare access”.

5. “higher neonatal mortality”.

Pretty much everything we should care about.

The UN Report calls for a a return to a central role for government.

In – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, September 2017) – we argued that the government didn’t just vanish.

It was co-opted and reconfigured by neoliberalism.

It is still central but has succumbed to all sorts of demands for legislation to tip the balance to capital.

He also rejected the neoliberal ‘public-private partnership’ model for delivering prosperity.

The UN special rapporteur said that as governments had adopted austerity measures:

multinational companies and investors draw guaranteed profits from public coffers, while poor communities are neglected and underserved …

(vi) Hutsunea txikitzen, Australia

Closing the Gap – Australia

In part, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ surge in recent weeks characterises the dilemma.

Yes, racism is horrid.

Yes, as a white male I don’t perceive the issues of colour from an experiential perspective.

I don’t apologise for my whiteness nor my maleness. I am constantly vigilent of my status though and watchful.

But all the around the world I have seen a lot of symbolic ‘middle class’ activity – flags being burned, statues ripped down, police departments being threatened with dissolution, etc – but not a lot of awareness of a sustained solution.

Why haven’t the middle class staged global street marches over the last 30 years to protest about mass unemployment and underemployment?

In Australia, we have had the – Close the Gap Campaign – which set out in 2008 to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged Australians – our indigenous people.

In many ways it illustrates all the things that Philip Alston was observing in his final report discussed above.

Lacking ambition in goals.

Flawed indicators and ridiculously low hurdles.

Lots of motherhood statements.

Consultants everywhere.

The – Closing the Gap Reprot 2020 – was released in February 2020.

When the campaign began in 2008, the goals by the end of 2018 in relation to employment were:

Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade (by 2018).

The Report tells us that “The target … was not met”.

In fact, there was virtually no progress made over the decade.

Indigenous Australians have an employment rate of 49 per cent while for non-indigenous Australians it is 75 per cent.

The “gap has not changed markedly” over the decade.

On other goals:

1. Child mortality – “the gap has not narrowed”.

2. School attendance, reading and numeracy – the targets “were not met”.

3. Life expectancy – “closing the gap in life expectancy within a generation is not on track to be met by 2031”

4. Early childhood education and Year 12 targets “on track”.

The campaign has largely failed in other words.

(vii) Aurrera begira…

In the last week, there has been a lot of publicitly about a new ‘agreement’ among leaders for the next decade.

Among the more bizarre targets to emerge was that the Campaign was considering a target to achieve parity in incarceration rates (currently heavily skewed towards indigenous Australians) across indigenous and non-indigenous by … wait for it … you couldn’t make this up … 2 …. 0 …. 9 …. 3. Yes, 2093.

It is almost too large a number for me to calculate how many generations of indigenous Australians will be locked up unnecessarily – usually for crimes of poverty – while banksters who defraud people of their life savings roam free enjoying the largesse that they illegally socked away in some legal trust or something similar.

Here is the data:

1. Indigenous Australians equal 3.3 per cent of the total population per the 2016 Census.

2. They make up around 29 per cent of the total prison inmates.

3. According to ABS dataPrisoners in Australia, 2019the imprisonment rate for indigenous Australians has risen by 60.6 per cent between 2009 and 2019 – the period since the Closing the Gap campaign began in 2008.

Non-indigenous imprisonment has risen by 44.4 per cent over the same period.

Withdrawing funds from the police would not seem to go to the heart of the problem.

Even imprisonment rates for non-indigenous are rising dramatically.

Why is that?

Neoliberalism has created a raft of losers.

In a world where aspirations are cultivated to mean success is a big house, huge SUV for driving kids to school, and all the rest of the mass consumption artefacts, increasing numbers of Australians are failing – perception wise.

Young people are being denied access to jobs.

And then they are called entrepreneurs because they drive around at break neck speeds on ill-suited scooters with big boxes delivering food and whatever to those too lazy to break with Netflix and go out.

For that they supply their own capital (scooters), earn a pittance, have no job security, no holiday pay, no sick pay, and no superannuation prospects.

They cannot access home mortgage loans because traditional lenders do not reward the precarious.

They cannot afford child care so how does that work?

And then to get the artefacts of success some realise that pushing drugs or selling their bodies pays well. Prison follows.

And this type of insecurity is creeping into the middle class.

After failing categorically to achieve the targets, the Closing the Gap campaign, which feeds a host of consultants, talks a lot, probably is now helping Zoom prosper, and all the rest of it, have a – new national agreement – which has been labelled an “historic new deal”.

The co-chair of the Joint Council, an indigenous woman, claimed that:

We are making history … A real game changer for this next phase of Closing the Gap is that the expertise and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on what works and what is needed is at the centre.

Apparently, the new targets on matters such as employment, will be achieved by “structural reform across government”.

You may ask what that buzz phrase means? For I don’t know.

The new “draft targets” under Economic Development are:

1. “65% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth (15-24 years) are in employment, education or training by 2028.”

2. “60% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-64 years are employed by 2028.”

So another 8 years.

Why, for example, are the targets so low? So drawn out?

What ‘structural change’ in government will allow these targets to be met?

Stand ready for failure to be announced in 2028.

The only change that the government(s) in Australia have to make is to take responsibility for ensuring that there is full employment.

Why wait until 2028? When in fact, we have been waiting for decades.

What do you think would happen if the Australian government just announced today that there was to be a Job Guarantee and anyone who wanted to work at a decent, socially-inclusive wage could get a job unconditionally?

The gap would close very quickly.

The only ‘structural changes’ necessary within government are to change the sign of Centrelink (the overseer of the unemployment industry) with a Job Guarantee office sign and send the staff inside away for some re-education to disabuse them of the sociopathological tendencies that the pernicious unemployment system has required them to exhibit when dealing with the most disadvantaged citizens.

I recall a meeting in South Africa where all sorts of high level officials were present describing the unemployment problem there as a ‘complex, multidimensioned problem’ that ‘evades solution’, etc. This sort of self-style narrative is often heard in these gatherings.

Consultants and officials from multilateral agencies talking big, making themselves sound erudite and committed.

At that meeting, when it was my time to speak, I asked what is complex and multidimensional about creating some jobs!

Anytime the government creates jobs, unemployment falls and workers can rise out of poverty.

Pretty simple actually.


(1) I will write more about our plans under JUST2030 to offer real solutions and to better articulate the challenge that is faced in the coming weeks.

(2) Our work is gathering pace.

(3) And as the UN Report notes, we ned to:

to avoid sleepwalking towards assured failure while pumping out endless bland reports

Iruzkinak (2)

  • joseba


    Derek Henry
    Thursday, July 9, 2020
    Loved this article Bill.
    ” You know the story – ‘we are nearing full employment’, ‘never had workers had it so good’, ‘the Eurozone is about convergence’, etc”
    Richard Murphy has launched some kind of you tube channel / podcast type thingy because his ego must have dropped 80% after MMT Q&A was launched. There was Stephanie and a group of MP’s from Westminster having a chat. With ( I’m going to change all of Europe by voting for the status quo) Murphy answering questions.
    I never watched it and never will tune in, and I could be wrong, but I am way passed caring about it at this point. I would imagine it would have been a bunch of “folks” from the liberal middle class with their art degrees patting each other on the back. In a severe cloud of Cognitive dissonance.
    Were any leavers who supported leaving the European invited on ? With ( I’m going to change all of Europe by voting for the status quo) Murphy answering their questions ? Has he even the courage to engage with them on a MMT level. When he consistently lies when he looks through the MMT lens when it comes to Europe.
    If not. These are a group of people who voted for the status quo and tried to overturn the Brexit result talking about ” The Deficit Myth ”
    Think about that. Think about the level of Cognitive dissonance needed to chat about “The Deficit Myth” and completely ignore Brexit and the HUGE role these middle class liberals played with their art degrees.
    Which brings us back to Neil’s point. “It is difficult to get a person to understand something, when their salary depends upon them not understanding it”
    If you watched it I didn’t. Then you probably wouldn’t have learned anything new. These people don’t want to learn and then teach voters the truth. They look at voting polls and act accordingly.
    I got blocked by all of the Scottish people on this chat via Twitter ten days ago.
    All I said was….
    Ah good you’ve read ” the deficit myth ” now you know that
    a) The Scottish Growth Commission
    b) The SNP stance on the EU/ EFTA
    Are both ridiculous.
    I wonder if Stephanie knows that Murphy and his merry band of liberals from the left are using her ? They tried the exact same trick with me when I put together MMT Scotland. Difference is, I saw what they were trying to do from a million miles away.
    Derek Henry
    Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 17:21
    Probably a gamble posting what I have posted considering I never even watched it. Not at all interested in what ( I’m going to change all of Europe by voting for the status quo) Murphy has to say.
    Those who did watch it. Can let me know if the EU was even mentioned at all or if any of these difficult questions were even asked.

    Friday, July 10, 2020
    Dear Carol Wilcox, Rod, Derek and others (at 2020/07/10 at 5:39 am)
    Murphy is not an authority on MMT. He gleaned a few ideas that we developed and has used them to differentiate himself from others. But he fails to understand key elements of our work and should not be relied upon as a representative of our work.
    Your collective experience suggests he is also rather unpleasant on a personal basis.
    best wishes
    Neil Wilson
    Friday, July 10, 2020
    “Much discussion concerns the Job Guarantee. Perhaps we might do well to consider what jobs we really need to create and how they may be truly beneficial?”
    The primary goal of the Job Guarantee is to allow you to sell your 8 hours of labour *and* maintain that labour available to use if required (which is why it is superior to unemployment benefit). Beyond that it is like maintaining a standing army. What skills do you have to maintain to keep your workers ready for work – so they can be hired into the main private sector or public sector? Those are best maintained and enhanced in a full work environment – much as a standing army is best maintained in barracks.
    Unemployment, on the other hand, is like trying to raise a mercenary army. You no idea whether the people are out of shape, or capable of doing what is required. Or if any of them are really interested.
    The Job Guarantee is a transition position. A stopgap. The jobs are nice to have type jobs, not required jobs. And the tasks it undertakes have to be shelvable – or at least fungible (so people can drop in and out easily).
    For anything that really needs doing permanently we need to hire people off the Job Guarantee into the main public sector. At that point you have to decide who is going to pay for the tax to fund that job as well as decide what the job is there to do.

  • joseba

    Setting things straight about the Job Guarantee


    We need to get a few things straight. And this is partly for those out there who seem to think that the extent of literature on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) or the Job Guarantee within MMT is confined to collections of Tweets that allow 280 characters or Unicode glyphs. One doesn’t become an expert on ‘full employment’ or ‘political economy’ because they have suddenly realised there is a major crisis in the labour market and have decided to strategically place their organisations for self-serving purposes to be champions of full employment. There is an enormous literature on the Job Guarantee and I have been a major contributor along with my valued colleagues. This is a crucial time in history and one of the glaring deficiencies in the current crisis and economic management in general is the lack of an employment safety net. This is what MMT has to say about that safety net and stabilisation framework.

    Some recent high profile Op Eds in the mainstream Australian press that I have written in partnership with indigenous leader Noel Pearson have apparently inflamed the so-called progressives out there who seem to:

    1. Object to me writing in the Murdoch press.

    2. Object to me writing with Noel Pearson.

    3. Object to me saying that I would scrap the current unemployment benefits system in Australia and replace it with a Job Guarantee.

    4. Conclude that I have a naive grasp on the ‘political economy’ in Australia and are essentially pushing MMT towards a hard right political position.

    Most of the objections come from people who have a past history with the Australian Labor Party in one way or another.

    Lecturing someone about their grasp on political economy when they belong to organisations that spent millions of dollars at the last federal election in an attempt to get rid of the worst conservative government we have had, only to see the government returned with an increased majority is not very smart.

    Further, spending considerable dollars targetting certain Ministers and then seeing them getting increased votes is not a very good indication of a sound grasp on political economy. In one case, in Brisbane, the Minister was totally unelectable but increased his majority such was the toxity and incompetence of the campaign that the organisation in question pursued.
    Apples and oranges

    Then there was a Tweet informing the world that all the MMT scholars other than me supported retention of the unemployment benefits if a Job Guarantee was introduced.

    The message was that I was alone in that view and no longer represented the MMT position.

    While it is not clear that the names quoted in that Tweet would have supported being named in that way, the point is that even if the statement was true, they were all US-based economists.

    Why is that important?

    The US unemployment benefits systems are not remotely comparable to the Australian system.

    They are mostly decentralised systems (state based) with some Federal additions, the policies are not uniform across the states, and the systems tend to exclude workers who are deemed to have been fired for ‘misconduct’.

    This BLS fact sheet – State Unemployment Insurance benefits – is instructive.

    The US systems are mostly funded by “a tax imposed on employers”.

    You have to have worked a “base period” (a minimum amount of time earning wages before being eligible).

    Once on benefits, which are finite, your obligations is to answer questions about “continued eligibility” (mostly whether you have been working or not or have had job offers).

    Whether a person has to “register for work with the State Employment Service” varies and is not uniform.

    The benefits are computed “on a percentage of an individual’s earnings over a recent 52-week period” – so they are not uniform nor progressive.

    The benefits run out after a “maximum of 26 weeks in most States” and Federal income taxes are levied.

    Conversely, the Australian system is federal and provides a uniform payment to workers who are deemed eligible. It is not an insurance system nor does it base the payment on any past earnings.

    The current unemployment benefit (ignoring the short-term pandemic supplement) is well below the adult poverty line and the gap has been getting worse in both real and nominal terms.

    But most importantly, unemployment benefit recipients are subjected to harsh work tests, are case managed within the sociopathological privatised ‘unemployment industry that pockets millions of dollars from federal payments but does very little to help the unemployment reenter the paid work force.

    This privatised system punishes unemployment workers by reporting them to government who then ‘breaches’ them – which means they lose their miserable unemployment benefit.

    In that context, I would doubt whether any of my US-based MMT scholars (those names in the Tweet referred to above) would advocate the retention of such a system that the unemployed have to tolerate in Australia.

    So trying to ‘divide-and-conquer’ by asserting views that might apply within one nation as being applicable to another nation, which has a completely different system of unemployment benefits is not very smart.

    It is like talking about the US going broke because Greece can!

    And then the question is why would any Australian progressive want to keep our pernicious unemployment benefits system when a guaranteed job was provided at a socially-inclusive minimum wage supplemented by social wage benefits (a service guarantee if you like) and workers had the right to choose the hours they worked in the Job Guarantee?

    I will come back to the Job Guarantee pay and conditions argument presently.

    But let’s tease this out a bit.

    These so-called progressive champions of full employment might reasonably say they don’t support the pernicious nature of the current system.


    So then what have we left?

    Drum roll.

    Effectively a UBI or some version of it.

    So we are back to that – they would want a UBI to be run parallel with the Job Guarantee.

    I noted a Tweet from someone claiming to be an MMT proponent saying exactly that.

    Well none of my American MMT economics colleagues support the introduction of a UBI.

    The fact is that once you go down the UBI route you are diluting the inflation anchor provided by the Job Guarantee – which is a central proposition within MMT, and, is one of the features, that sets it apart from mainstream macroeconomics.

    And once you dilute the inflation anchor, then you are effectively back in a NAIRU world where unemployment is used as a policy tool to discipline any inflationary processes.

    You cannot have it both ways as an MMTer.

    If you support a UBI then you should not hold yourself out as a proponent of MMT.

    Simple as that.

    I recommend reading this blog post – The provenance of the Job Guarantee concept in MMT (April 20, 2020) – where I explain the foundations of the Job Guarantee with MMT and how Warren and I approached that issue when we set out on the MMT journey.

    In that blog post, I discuss the debates about inflation control and the role of the Job Guarantee – as being much more than a meagre job creation program, a point not well understood by those who come late to our work in a time when inflation is of no consequence.

    When I came up with my version of the Job Guarantee in 1978, the problem to be addressed was high unemployment and high inflation and a mainstream profession that was claiming the high unemployment was ‘natural’ and that the government could do nothing about it.
    Workfare on steroids?

    Some other person who is apparently trying to position their organisation as the champion of full employment claimed to be appalled by my work and asserted that:

    The Pearson-Mitchell proposal which is basically WFTH on steroids, and exactly what many of us warned would happen to Mitchell’s JG.


    And exactly what literature has this person read? A highly word-constrained Op Ed in The Australian that I wrote with Noel Pearson? More?

    Where in the millions of words I have written over the last 42 years on unemployment, employment guarantees, work-for-the-dole (WFTD), and all the rest of the topics would she be justified in saying that I endorse a Workfare approach to unemployment support?

    It would be impossible to find that sort of inference from my work.

    In Australia, Work-for-the-dole has the following characteristics:

    1. As stated by the government in Senate Estimates some years ago, it is a compliance program.

    2. It pays below the hourly legal minimum wage – effectively forcing workers to engage in work but at below poverty line and legal wages.

    3. It does not allow any choice over hours of work.

    4. It does not allow a worker to engage in extended training nor does it provide training ladders.

    5. It is finite in time period.

    6. It requires the worker to participate in the pernicious work test and case management system described above.

    7. It offers no additional benefits such as holiday and sick pay, superannuation, and other social wage benefits.

    8. No allowance is made for workers with mental health problems etc.

    9. The State takes no responsibility for the failure of the economy to generate enough jobs.

    Compare that with the Job Guarantee that I have consistently advocated over my career, which could not be conceived of being a more elaborate form of Workfare.

    I advocate:

    1. A guaranteed job for anyone who wants to work and cannot currently find a job.

    2. They would receive a socially-inclusive minimum wage.

    3. They would receive holiday and sick pay entitlements, superannuation contributions from the employer, and other special leave entitlements that are common in the permanent workforce.

    4. They would be entitled to undergo training (on-the-job or in outside environments, including going back to school, college or university).

    5. They would receive social wage benefits – what some might call guaranteed levels of services – such as health care insurance, free child care, transport allowances, access to legal aid supplements, etc.

    6. Family Income Supplements: The Job Guarantee is not based on family-units. The Job Guarantee wage (available to anyone over working age) would be supplemented with benefits reflecting family structure. In contrast to workfare there would no pressure on single parents to seek employment.

    7. They could choose whatever hours they desired to work – effectively eliminating time-based underemployment.

    8. IMPORTANTLY, a worker would be given a grace period on accessing the Job Guarantee. Their wage would start immediately but they could have 3-4 weeks before having to start work where they could sort out their affairs, ‘take a breather’, engage in job search if they wanted, etc. During this period they would be paid the standard wage rate.

    9. The job would be permanent if they chose.

    10. The job design can be flexible to help workers with special difficulties enjoy a productive working life (for example, the provision of clinical support within the workplace to help people burdened with episodic illnesses)

    We have developed this concept based on extensive national surveys of Local Governments.

    I have been involved in a major, long-term project with mental health professionals running pilots providing work for youth with psychosis and seeing how flexible workplaces can reduce the problems that such a cohort face.

    I have worked in developed countries on major work projects and helped design a minimum wage framework for workers in South Africa.

    And more.

    What does a socially-inclusive minimum wage mean?

    I have regularly written analytical reports for trade unions who are defending industrial matters on behalf of the members in the Fair Work Commission in Australia. That often requires me to appear as an expert witness in the relevant matter.

    My view has always been the same as it was when I was helping in the South African situation.

    I do not consider minimum wages should be set on private sector capacity to pay principles. The employers should adjust not the workers.

    The minimum wage as a statement of how sophisticated you consider your nation to be or aspire to be. Minimum wages define the lowest material standard of wage income that you want to tolerate.

    Accordingly, it should be a wage that allows a person (and family) to participate in society in a meaningful way and not suffer social exclusion or alienation through lack of income.

    That means being able to go out for dinner sometimes, go to sporting or other major events, have a holiday somewhere.

    A socially-inclusive minimum wage should be a statement of national aspiration.

    In any country it should be the lowest wage that society considers acceptable for business to operate at. Capacity to pay considerations then have to be conditioned by these social objectives.

    If small businesses or any businesses for that matter consider they do not have the ‘capacity to pay’ that wage, then a sophisticated society will say that these businesses are not suitable to operate in their economy.

    Such firms would have to restructure by investment to raise their productivity levels sufficient to have the capacity to pay or disappear.

    This approach establishes a dynamic efficiency whereby the economy is continually pushing productivity growth forward and allowing material standards of living to rise.

    I consider that no worker should be paid below what is considered the lowest tolerable material standard of living just because some low wage-low productivity operator wants to produce in a country and make ‘cheap’ profits.

    I don’t consider that the private ‘market’ is an arbiter of the values that a society should aspire to or maintain. That is where I differ significantly from my profession.

    The employers always want the wages system to be totally deregulated so that the ‘market can work’ without fetters. This will apparently tell us what workers are ‘worth’.

    The problem is that the so-called ‘market” in its pure conceptual form is an amoral, ahistorical construct and cannot project the societal values that bind communities and peoples to higher order considerations.

    The minimum wage is a values-based concept and should not be determined by a market.

    Anyway, those principles govern the way I have operated as a professional over many years.

    I have not seen too much analysis coming over the years on these topics from those so-called progressives who are now slinging the mud about what Noel Pearson and I are trying to achieve by way of improving the lives of unemployed workers.

    My position has always been the same.

    A progressive society is one based on collective aspiration.

    Neoliberalism is based on the promotion of individual aspiration even if it is at the expense of the collective.

    That is why we are in the mess we are in now (health issues aside but connected).

    I think the state has a duty to use its fiscal capacity to ensure there are jobs for all those who desire them.

    In general, if there is something that is useful for the public sector to provide then I would create those jobs in the public sector in the standard way.

    But there is also flux and uncertainty in private spending patterns and that requires a buffer stock either of jobs or unemployment.

    Clearly, the costs of using unemployment to meet the flux and uncertainty of the private capitalist spending patterns are massive and extend well beyond the income (GDP) losses.

    Using an employment buffer stock approach as an automatic stabiliser has to be superior to that approach.

    So what are the responsibilities of people within that society?

    I consider that persons who are able to work should to be required to take a Job Guarantee position to gain the income support if they are unable to find a job elsewhere.

    They don’t have to take the Job Guarantee job. It is not a work camp approach.

    But to receive the state socially-inclusive minimum wage under the conditions specified above they should be prepared to contribute back to society.

    That is the progressive collective approach.

    I argue that this possession of a job is a crucial source of self-determination for the typical worker in a capitalist system and the core of regional community development.

    Please be clear – persons unable to work would be provided with a ‘living income’. This includes the aged, the sick, the disabled, the young.

    They would have generous material support.

    Tweets that claim that I support the abolition of all welfare are just plain straight out lies.

    I don’t consider a healthy society is one that does not take responsibility to encourage young people to develop skills and engage in paid work, rather than be passive recipients of social security benefits.

    There is strong evidence linking long-term unemployment and social exclusion, where the latter is manifested in economic deprivation, the absence of institutional support, and social, cultural and spatial isolation.

    This is Noel Pearson’s concept of ‘passive welfare’.

    If you are interested in this concept and how it relates to the Job Guarantee, please see – Conversation with William Mitchell and Noel Pearson, Newcastle, December 15, 2019.

    The failure to engage in paid work, for whatever reason, cannot be narrowly construed to be merely an inability to generate disposable income which can be compensated for through a benefit, but entails a much broader form of exclusion from economic, social and cultural life.

    Accordingly, the State would be evading its social responsibilities by providing an UBI or other form of benefit.

    I think language loses all meaning if you think my work is ‘right-wing’ in nature or leaning, or that the Job Guarantee we propose is just nasty workfare or worse.

    There will be more from Noel Pearson and myself in the near future as we launch a series of Live Streaming sessions promoting our work together.

    But I hope that this blog post has clarified things for those who cannot be bothered researching our work in detail.

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