Jobs Guarantee advocates want a UBI, they just won’t say it

Let’s retire this debate and the endless word-games.
A Job Guarantee (JG) is a way to guarantee a certain income level to anyone willing to do tasks that some administrator decides are good.

A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a way to guarantee a certain income level to anyone willing to do any task they decide is good.

We know that many JG advocates simply want to give people money for doing what they would do anyway if their income was guaranteed. They just have dogmatic beliefs about the dignity of work and the word “job.”

Here’s Bill Mitchell saying that you would eventually do whatever you liked in the JG (my emphasis):

The Job Guarantee in fact provides a 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” would become considered to be “gainful” employment.

So I would allow struggling musicians, artists, surfers, Thespians, etc to be working 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 etc.

Further, relating to my earlier remarks – community activism could become a Job Guarantee job. For example, organising and managing a community garden to provide food for the poor could be a paid job. We would see more of that activity if it was rewarded in this way. Start to get the picture – we can re-define the concept of productive work well beyond the realms of “gainful work” which specifically related to activities that generated private profits for firms. My conception of productivity is social, shared, public … and 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!

If we are going to be this lenient and generous with the definitions of a job, why bother at all? How about being a parent, carer, child, or just a citizen? Why aren’t these “jobs”? And if they are, aren’t you just advocating for a guaranteed basic income of sorts?

The inflation concerns that JG advocates claim to have with a UBI are nonsense. They are just backfilling excuses. Obviously, most JG jobs wouldn’t in be sectors where output is priced, so wouldn’t enter inflation calculations anyway. Just like my housework isn’t priced, but could be if supplied by the market, a JG that includes my own housework would have no effect on reducing inflationary pressures.
Further, isn’t the insight of MMT that you might have to tax to reduce demand sometimes? In which case, a UBI can be easily designed to include taxes so that it redistributes in a way that doesn’t create demand-pull inflation.
Oh, and then there are people wouldn’t participate in the JG anyway, like children, the elderly and the disabled. They would have to just get money anyway.
So let’s retire the debate. Yes, the government can be a money-creator if it wants. There are only real constraints. So let’s now talk about funding things that we think are important for society over things that are not. Let’s talk about practical ways to redistribute income and wealth. Let’s get our priorities right and forget the word-games.

Comments

  1. migtronixMEMBER

    As Ellen Brown says, welfare doesn’t make you depended on government – not being able to find a job does…

    • Strange Economics of UBIMEMBER

      Already running a UBI experiment. Its called Jobseeker doubled and Jobkeeper. (let alone the aged pension) Seems like a success – people get to eat, and theres 20 % unemployment counting Jopkeepers whose jobs are disappeared for now.
      . And all those people still look for a higher paying job if they were available – as per the other article on MB, applications on Seek have doubled.
      UBI is just a basic liveable level.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        Don’t tell the inflationistas, they’re more than happy to sacrifice you as they showed with Greece.

      • The paradox being that UBI would, and as we can see with 2x dole not push up prices due to the low level its dished out but at the same time Scumo and his vile accomplices are spending another mint in tax payer money to inflate house prices. This proves beyond a doubt that they have zero concern about inflation but do enjoy sticking one up the less worthy (in their eyes) and conversely using public money to look after their personal portfolios. Also totally blind as to seeing the benefits of money flowing through local businesses. Pockets of inflation can be handled with well directed tax measures

        • DominicMEMBER

          Why don’t we agree that the gubmint should not be ‘injecting’ any taxpayer sweat and tears into anyone’s pockets – particularly their mates?

    • Anyone can perform the job of “rent collector” all they need is to be allocated a fair share of land. Bet you hadn’t analysed it that deeply.

      • DominicMEMBER

        Some people are born lucky, most are not. Some tall, some short, Some thin, some fat. Some handsome, some ugly.

        What’s the issue here? (other than envy)

        • Land is absolutely key. Natural resources are scarce and created by no human.
          Economics is about scarce resources.
          If you don’t understand land allocation you understand nothing about economics.
          A tribe on a well-endowed island can live happily together if the share the bounty of the island. But if one island elite bully claims all the land (and food) as his own, then the rest of the tribe suddenly need a “job” in order to buy stuff back off the bully.

          Are we in Australia more like the happy tribe? or more like the need-a-job-to-buy-stuff-back-off-bullies?

          • DominicMEMBER

            I understand economics perfectly well – in fact, better than the vast majority.

            Most economically valuable land is privately owned and the land that is owned by Gubmint is invariably given away too cheaply (either owing to corruption or incompetence).

            Once it’s owned privately, that’s it. What are you suggesting? That the state confiscate it at will? You have a socialist cap on — that’s a state of affairs that never ends well (as history attests). And as the citizens of Venezuela will affirm.

          • Once it’s owned privately, that’s it. What are you suggesting? That the state confiscate it at will?

            BS.
            I am suggesting that ordinary citizens demand their fair share of land back off the elites who have illegitimately claimed it as private property.

            Do you understand why a monopoly is bad for society?

            What about a monopoly on air, water or land? Get it yet?

            A landless pleb is a slave to elites who are allowed to monopolise land. Is this the economics you support Dominic?

  2. DominicMEMBER

    Rubbing my hands with glee at the thought of no longer getting out of bed at 6am and getting ready for a day’s hard slog at the coalface.

    9am is far more civilized and painting landscapes far less stressful. Bring it on.

  3. migtronixMEMBER

    I’m going to follow my dream and become a HR person dealing with workplace complaints for people who work from home on ubi. It will be a fax only service available 10am to 2pm.

  4. “isn’t the insight of MMT that you might have to tax to reduce demand sometimes?”
    Precisely! “might”. Tax is an option with MMT; a sop to those who fear that inflation ‘might’ get out of control, not a requirement, So to all intents and purposes, it’s an irrelevancy.
    (And as far as tax under MMT controlling inflation. Wasn’t it Keating who famously said “Never stand between a State Treasurer and Free Money!” – which is what MMT is. Just see how ‘controlled’ spending is, tax or no tax, under MMT)

    • migtronixMEMBER

      Look how controlled its been lately. 10 years of no inflation, gold has done nothing since 11 and yet still its the same droning complaint…

      • No inflation but house prices have doubled thanks to mega UBI to specufestors chasing a deliberatly restricted asset that we all need.

    • Tax is not an “option” with MMT please read the MMT literature or reference who of the original MMT’rs that have said tax is optional? Crickets….. yeah. There are a lot of economists who think they know all about MMT but clearly have not read the texts. Whilst I have some issues with MMT there is a lot of solid work forming the core of the MMT body of work. Tax is still needed when using the MMT lens as the originators are clear about.

    • DominicMEMBER

      The irrelevancy is that controlling inflation with a swift rise in tax has never been tried before – it is merely a central banker’s wet lettuce dream. Another failure of ‘theory’. It will never work because: a swift rise in tax will impoverish hard-working people trying to pay their fckn mortgages (there’d be riots). And secondly, inflation concerns are ultimately a manifestation of confidence in the currency. The fact that consumption falls off a cliff doesn’t reflect ‘lower inflation’, it reflects the fact that people have less money and that inventory is being liquidated.

      Don’t fall for this sh*t Janet

  5. drsmithyMEMBER

    You are narrowing your demographic to people who would be “dole bludgers” to argue a JG and UBI are equivalent, completely ignoring:

    A JG provides jobs for people who want a job but can’t find one. A UBI does not.
    A JG keeps people in the workforce. A UBI does not.
    A JG would provide useful work that would otherwise go undone. A UBI does not.
    A JG sets a wage floor. A UBI does not.

    Then there’s the issues with a UBI:
    How is “basic” defined ? With respect to living costs in Sydney or Adelaide (or somewhere else) ?
    It absolves employers of their responsibility to pay a livable wage
    It suppresses wages
    It acts as a subsidy-by-proxy
    It is nearly always the thin edge of the wedge to privatising all public services

    There is nothing dogmatic about the mental health issues of long term unemployment vs having a job.

    • drsmithy,

      I am no fan of a UBI but mainly because I don’t think there is any shortage of useful things that need doing. So in principle there should be really no reason for any human capacity lying idle.

      But your claims are nothing but bald assertions about the JG and you need to do more to convince readers that the reality of a JG program would be more than a bunch of pointless projects that some know-all thinks important but no one else does.

      “..A JG provides jobs for people who want a job but can’t find one. A UBI does not.
      A JG keeps people in the workforce. A UBI does not.
      A JG would provide useful work that would otherwise go undone. A UBI does not.
      A JG sets a wage floor. A UBI does not.”

      The best jobs are ones where someone is willing to pay you to do something because they value the work that you do.

      There are no shortage of demand for those jobs/services but for the most part the problem is that the people who need stuff done lack the means of paying for it.

      Transfers to Central Bank deposit accounts operated by every member of the community and not just banks is a perfect way of providing the means for individuals to make decisions for themselves.

      Consider it a distribution of seniorage to everyone rather than just asset owners punting on asset prices with bank credit.

      And it will sort out the parasite banks into the bargain.

      But you will have to let go of your belief that make work schemes by the government are best for the little people.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        I am no fan of a UBI but mainly because I don’t think there is any shortage of useful things that need doing. So in principle there should be really no reason for any human capacity lying idle.

        Er… Yes ?

        But your claims are nothing but bald assertions about the JG and you need to do more to convince readers that the reality of a JG program would be more than a bunch of pointless projects that some know-all thinks important but no one else does.

        As defined, a JG is implicitly voluntary. Why would anyone be taking up ” pointless projects that some know-all thinks important but no one else does” ?

        You can redefine a jobs guarantee as work-for-the-dole if you want, but that’s your business.

        The best jobs are ones where someone is willing to pay you to do something because they value the work that you do.

        There are no shortage of demand for those jobs/services but for the most part the problem is that the people who need stuff done lack the means of paying for it.

        Er… Yes ?

        Transfers to Central Bank deposit accounts operated by every member of the community and not just banks is a perfect way of providing the means for individuals to make decisions for themselves.

        So… You’re not a fan of a UBI but you want one ?

        A JG doesn’t prevent anyone “making decisions for themselves”, indeed, it gives them more things to make decisions about.

        But you will have to let go of your belief that make work schemes by the government are best for the little people.

        Yeah, fuck you, too.

        Didn’t you give the straw man enough of a pounding yesterday ?

        • drsmithy,

          You really don’t like having your middle class pretensions exposed do you?

          “…Transfers to Central Bank deposit accounts operated by every member of the community and not just banks is a perfect way of providing the means for individuals to make decisions for themselves.

          So… You’re not a fan of a UBI but you want one ?..”

          I haven’t heard of any proponents of a UBI arguing for the dismantling of the privatised monetary system.

          That is what I am proposing not a UBI.

          You must try harder to distort what people write. It is all a bit obvious.

          As for yesterday – readers can reach their own conclusions.

          https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2020/06/17-billion-ripped-from-australias-superannuation-system/#comment-3921360

          I see you had a tanty at the end as well.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            You really don’t like having your middle class pretensions exposed do you?

            I’m gonna go out on a limb and hazard a guess you’re *at least* as much “pretentious middle class” as I am.

            I haven’t heard of any proponents of a UBI arguing for the dismantling of the privatised monetary system.

            That is what I am proposing not a UBI.

            Right. So you’re talking about something completely unrelated to anything I’ve said and the topic at hand.

            You must try harder to distort what people write.

            Now that is fvcken hilarious given how you’ve redirected the conversation for no apparent reason other than to round up some straw men and pile on some ad hominem.

            I see you had a tanty at the end as well.

            You mean expressing some frustration at the continual unwarranted abuse and dodging of the question ? Yeah, guilty as charged.

          • Keep digging Smithy!

            Manage your frustrations potty mouth.

            You accused me of supporting a UBI when I said did not and outlined something that is nothing like the UBI proposals you mounted your 4 point attack on.

            You still have not provided any arguments in support of your 4 points beyond the inane assertion that governments would not engage in pointless JG projects.

            Give us some examples of your government job guarantee make work schemes and explain how they are superior to allowing the public to buy the services that they want.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            You accused me of supporting a UBI when I said did not and outlined something that is nothing like the UBI proposals you mounted your 4 point attack on.

            Actually I – quite reasonably I thought in the context of a discussion about UBI – assumed when you wrote:

            Transfers to Central Bank deposit accounts operated by every member of the community and not just banks is a perfect way of providing the means for individuals to make decisions for themselves.

            You meant:

            [Regular Government] Transfers to Central Bank deposit accounts operated by every member of the community and not just banks is a perfect way of providing the means for individuals to make decisions for themselves.

            Rather than some completely offtopic idea that it would be nice if everyone who had a job would be able to deposit their salary into an RBA bank account.

            (I’m fairly sure I’ve never disagreed with your idea of RBA accounts for the people, and I know I’ve reguarly advocated a publicly owned bank, so it’s a mystery to me what the basis for your ongoing abuse is.)

            You still have not provided any arguments in support of your 4 points beyond the inane assertion that governments would not engage in pointless JG projects.

            No, my assertion is why would anyone take a JG job that is “pointless” (and by extension, why would anyone bother offering it) ?

            A JG provides jobs for people who want a job but can’t find one because that’s literally what it does. A UBI does not because it simply gives people money and hopes (arguably not even that) that their spending will produce full employment because free markets.

            A JG keeps people in the workforce because, as above, that’s literally what it does. A UBI does not because it relies on the hope that the market will create jobs.

            A JG would provide useful work that would otherwise go undone because it would generally focus on work that is unprofitable but still useful. A UBI does not because it relies on the market to create more jobs, which will be subject to the same profit requirements as any other jobs.

            A JG sets a wage floor because hardly anyone will work for less than what the JG pays. A UBI does not because it will almost certainly result in employers reducing wages (with the slack taken up by the UBI), in some cases to zero.

            Give us some examples of your government job guarantee make work schemes and explain how they are superior to allowing the public to buy the services that they want.

            Because one of them is giving anyone who wants to work a job and the other is… well, I’m not even sure what the other one is since you’ve explicitly said it’s not a UBI, and presumably it’s not a JG either, but will somehow involve people who don’t currently have jobs making regular deposits of money into an RBA bank account and thus be able to “buy the services they want” ?

            http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=23719

          • Drsmithy,

            It appears that you did not bother to read your link.

            I did and the only description of what a job guarantee job might be was this.

            “…. The JG workers would contribute in many socially useful activities including urban renewal projects and other environmental and construction schemes (reforestation, sand dune stabilisation, river valley erosion control, and the like), personal assistance to pensioners, and other community schemes. For example, creative artists could contribute to public education as peripatetic performers. The Report goes into much greater detail…..”

            Personal assistance to pensioners?

            Peripatetic performers?

            Environmental construction schemes?

            And this is what the currently unemployed and under employed will be doing?

            Voluntarily?

            Seriously?

            If you are going to slag off alternatives you might at least make some effort to make a serious case as to how a job guarantee will work in practice without a large dose of magical thinking.

            You are making the idea of a UBI in a privatised public monetary system look worth considering.

            Though my preference would be a full public monetary system with everyone having access to central bank accounts into which created public money, if it is required and it may not if the economy is not expanding, would be deposited in a equitable way along with any other transfers unemployment benefits, family allowances, disability pensions, pensions etc that are considered equitable.

            Millions of spending decisions by millions of Australians for goods and services is much more likely to generate real jobs than government paper shufflers sending armies of peripatetic performers miming their way through the suburban malls.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            There’s a report referenced, you will need to search for it.

            There are plenty of other examples proposed by others as well.

            Amazing how it’s possible people will volunteer their time freely to do many of these things but nobody would be interested in being paid for them.

            JG jobs are generally entry-level / minimum wage so there’s a limit to how significant they can be. But most JG schemes also assume an expansion of “real” public sector jobs concurrent with an increase in public services (as noted elsewhere in the link above).

            I don’t think the bloke saying people’s accounts at the RBA will fix things is in a position to get too judgey about “magical thinking”.

          • “.. I don’t think the bloke saying people’s accounts at the RBA will fix things is in a position to get too judgey about “magical thinking..”

            Yes it will fix things.

            Not everything but repairs to dodgy foundations are likely to be more worth while than your peripatetic performance artists.

      • Jumping jack flash

        “A JG sets a wage floor. A UBI does not”

        I argue that debt sets a wage floor anyway, its just that more people need a leg up to be able to stand on it. A UBI would do that for a while, until it became necessary to raise it.

        The goal is debt expansion.

        Lowering interest rates, raising the UBI. Both of these things are equivalent, but just on opposite sides of the equation.

        We have interest rates at zero. We can go negative, or implement a UBI (or some other subsidy) to grow the debt.

      • Make banks a public utility with free postal bank savings, its the pluming that matters and not the free market wing nut administration … oh and the institutional knowledge about contracts.

        Seems you learned nothing from Greece.

        • Jumping jack flash

          “Make banks a public utility”

          Aha!

          Yes I toyed with this idea a while back. This play is saved for the end game though.

          • Jumping jack flash

            If we hadnt privatised *all* the banks governments could then directly manipulate the market.

            The same is true for everything the government privatised.

            You are right though.

            It goes back to what i said a little while ago about how at this late stage of the game, wresting control from the banks/private sector is impossible. What must be done is to create parallel options that are more atrractive than what the private sector can offer.

            For a government this isnt too hard but it requires some leadership, nous and skill. None of that exists in the entire bunch of clowns we have to choose from.

          • Don’t disagree with the thrust of what you say, albeit 40 odd years of neoliberal agenda is not going away in one or a few election cycles due to broad institutionalization internationally – lotta ass hanging out to dry. That’s not to say the framework of thought can’t be expanded and there are signs that is happening.

            Lots of factors in play and the environment is presenting itself as an issue that Bernaysien PR can’t manage like some MSM gas lighting.

    • Concur and would add a UBI is inherently inflationary as it has no production attached, akin to financial credit to consume, made worse because recipients then give away all rights to said production and the rights it affords in a capitalistic setting.

      At its core a JG is based on ending forced under – unemployment, set a floor on base wages, provide an alternative to the dynamics of the private sector, enable people to learn new skills without fear of debt burdens currant in private certification, et al, and all administrated at a local – regional level with oversight at a national level to keep the corruption down to a low roar.

  6. truthisfashionable

    Uh oh, this might challenge some conservative agendas
    “The increased rate of welfare benefits during the coronavirus crisis has not stopped unemployed people flooding employers with job applications, new data finds.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jul/02/employers-flooded-with-job-applications-despite-higher-rate-of-welfare-benefits-data-finds

    Edit:
    “Labor has accused the government of being out of touch over the claims, pointing to Australian Bureau of Statistics data that shows there are 12 Australians on unemployment payments for every one vacancy.”

    Geez only 12, better open the floodgates to (un)skilled visas

    • The majority of advertised jobs are not open to the unemployed. I suspect the real figure from the perspective of an unemployed person is more like 50:1.

  7. Jumping jack flash

    If i was being paid to do whatever i like i would probably do the exact thing i am doing now.

    But it is moot anyway.

    Theres not much of a chance that banks will give you any meaningful amount of debt if you trot up to them clutching your ubi with a head full of expectations.

    You will still need a paid job to get the amount of debt that is required. The pile of debt you are eligible for will just be bigger than if you just had the job’s income.

    Which is what the entire point of a UBI is at this stage of the game. Let’s be real.

  8. Brett JamesMEMBER

    If we are going to spend billions bailing out banks, the effect of which shows no raise in living standards, we should instead spend the money on a UBI system which in turn would provide economic stimulus by putting money in people’s hands to spend.
    Who exactly do politicians work for anyway?
    The UBI would also enable the gov to eradicate most of the welfare public service.
    Would like to see the modelling on UBI at, say, $20k/annum vs the cost of all these dole programs and bureaucracy.
    Would go a long way to avoid the type of rioting currently seen in the US. If people have enough money to survive, they are less likely to want to tear the joint down.

  9. Segregate Victoria

    Quickest way to destroy this country’s standard of living would be a UBI.

    • After tripling house prices over the last 15 or so years and mass immigration to keep wages down( eg cleaners, restaurant workers 7/11, servo workers all on the magic $10 ph) and in many cases push out local workers eg IT workers.

  10. Tax free threshold 30,000 will give a ubi close to 600 a week and a tax break nearly 12,000 to workers ubi would
    Remove centerlink completely to all who qualify

        • Any market can set the price of labour.
          The problem is that the market price of a week’s labour may be less than the market price of a week’s food – IF ELITES ARE ALLOWED TO CLAIM ALL THE LAND AS THEIR OWN.

          By contrast, if elites are not allowed to claim all the land, and plebs are given their fair share of land, then plebs can grow their own food, and any work a pleb does for another person can be voluntary and mutually beneficial.

          Elites claiming all the land is the key problem.

          • Jumping jack flash

            Aha serfdom.
            Got it.

            Ive always thought we were a small step away from feudalism. The great brittish empire and all of that.

  11. Thanks Cameron.

    do tasks that some administrator decides

    and that administrator could be a prick!

  12. BabundaMEMBER

    A Job Guarantee (JG) is a way to guarantee a certain income level to anyone willing to do tasks that some administrator decides are good.
    A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a way to guarantee a certain income level to anyone willing to do any task they decide is good.

    Yes, a JG is money for doing something someone else wants done. In other words, work. A UBI gives people money for doing absolutely nothing.

    This is the sort of sophmoric dribble you would expect from someone who has never really encountered the real world. I’m sure you and all your upper-middle-class mates would gladly do your work regardless of the remuneration, but guess what – most people work because they have to, not because they’re “intrinsically motivated”. And capitalism works because people work. Take that away and the whole system falls apart.

    What I value most about MB is its cold real politik. Publishing this naive dribble destroys your credibility.

    • Err the machines don’t work go look for something you always wanted to do the machines have you covered in 10 years most human jobs are going its a change over manufacturer fire machines who knows we’re next adapt or expire

      • DominicMEMBER

        Ah, yes. The day the darning looms replaced hand-weaving and then machinery replaced ox-drawn ploughs.

        Look up the term Luddite … and then look in the mirror

    • A UBI gives people money for doing absolutely nothing.
      Similar to collecting rent for land someone owns.
      Which source of income gives more dignity?
      A) Rent collector
      B) UBI collector

      • DominicMEMBER

        The difference, in fairness, is that the rent collector has presumably spent many years earning the money to afford the property on which he is collecting rent, whereas the UBI collector has potentially spent many years doing sweet FA.

        Equivalence? I think not.

        • the rent collector has presumably spent many years earning the money to afford the property on which he is collecting rent
          Absolute rubbish. Most rent collectors have never done a day’s work in their lives.
          You of all people should know that asking/bribing government to change the rules in one’s favour is the best way to ensure a large rental income stream.

          • DominicMEMBER

            I am talking, of course, about how things would work in a Libertarian world. Sadly, we live in a Keynesian world where ‘something for nothing’ is a reality (as you correctly suggest).

          • Sorry Dominic … did you miss Larry Summers memo back in the day that were all Friedmanites now – ????

            Are you suggesting the Chicago school is Keynesian – ????

          • DominicMEMBER

            No skip, the Chicago school, once held in high regard, succumbed to monetarism, a now fundamental component of the warped economic system we’ve embraced. It’s all money from nothing these days.

        • Jumping jack flash

          “spent many years earning the money to afford the property on which he is collecting rent”

          Nothing is quicker nor easier than grabbing a mountain of debt.

          There was a news article that mentioned some old guy who was defrauded and how it took him 20 years to save up 50k. Thats about the extent of it these days.

          50k is nowhere near enough to buy any house that could be rented out.

          • DominicMEMBER

            In a hard money world my statement would be unassailable. Sadly, in a world of fiat, it’s true, any mong can get themselves a pile of debt and become a property magnate.