Does exactly what it says on the tin.
So what is the Job Guarantee? I believe the phrase was invented by the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) economist Bill Mitchell. he reasoned that if the state could support a buffer stock of unemployment, as happens now, the state could also provide a buffer stock of employment. People on Job seekers Allowance are not paid to do nothing, they must prove they are spending 35 hours a week looking for a job which by my calculation comes out at £2.09 per hour. So much for UK minimum wage laws. The somewhat laughably named Job Centre Plus has no obligation to find you a job and indeed removed all it’s computer terminals that did contain the jobs. The problem with those terminals is that virtually all the jobs on offer were merely spam adverts for the same half-dozen or so recruitment agencies, bogus self employment and various other scams.
Why should we introduce a Job Guarantee? At the moment the UK system is in chaos especially with the botched attempt at Universal Credit. The sixth largest economy in the world has people going hungry and food banks a regular occurrence in people’s lives, which is a scandal in itself. The most common reason to visit a food bank is a delay in the paying of benefits which every UK citizen is entitled to as of right, it is not a privilege. Unemployment is fast becoming one of life’s most traumatic experiences and being used as some sort of Dickensian punishment regime. No matter what your qualifications are, the Job Centre only exists to push you into minimum wage work and only the most basic of training courses are available. Is this really the best we can do for those that need our help? How do they do things elsewhere?
Let’s look to America where they are trying the FightFor15, the aim being to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in the expectation that better paid workers will create the spending power to generate Full Employment. Adam Ozimek is not impressed, he believes the minimum wage should be zero and the policy itself is flawed. He reasons “What could be happening is that forced to offer higher wages, skilled workers from outside the area move in to compete in the lower skilled labor market”. Note he offers no evidence that this is occurring, he is saying this might be the case. I don’t believe him but what this does is highlight the fact a higher minimum wage, although good in and of itself, cannot guarantee Full Employment. A raise to the minimum wage is of no use to those without a job so I think something more is required. (source).
America has it’s fair share of the Well ‘Ard brigade of course and Professor Lawrence M Mead is a right-winger of a different kind. A conservative who believes in big, active government and forcing people into work, any work, by cutting welfare payments.
“Benefit levels in some states are so low that many people don’t apply. In Texas, the average monthly benefit is just $68 (£46) per person. In 2007, David Cameron sang the praises of Wisconsin, a state that docks single mothers every hour they fail to show up for the work found for them. “I thought that there would be more hardship [among those women] than there was,” says Mead, ahead of a talk at London’s Policy Exchange last week. “I thought a price would have to be paid for ending the old system. We needed to take a risk. In Wisconsin they took more risks and I criticised them but they got away with it.” (Source).
As far as Prof Mead was concerned work was an obligation and people needed to be punished and into work. So in New York workfare was introduced and the unemployed were put to work sweeping up leaves. He then expressed triumph that people left these jobs and said “It happened in New York. You put people in those jobs and they rather quickly leave and get jobs in the private sector. Turns out they could have worked all along”. Exactly so Professor, it turned out they just needed regular work on their CV in 1996 boom time America to find a job. Did it work during the recession? Of course it didn’t, the jobs weren’t there and the unemployed simply claimed other benefits such as food assistance or paid into unemployment benefits. It turns out all these proposals were for was to cut federal spending but it didn’t. Workfare failed miserably and caused untold misery.
Unfortunately the wonderous story (can’t get that fuc… blasted song out of my head now) reached british ears namely David Cameron, David Willets and the then influential policy advisor Steve Hilton. Clearly the good Professor also inspired Iain Duncan Smith and the new tyranny against the unemployed and disabled began here. This has brought draconian benefit sanctions for the slightest infringement of the strict conditionality imposed as a punishment, literally a death sentence for some, for being unemployed and raised the possibility of a UN prosecution of the UK for breaching the human rights of the disabled, way to go boys.
My preferred solution is to abolish unemployment by way of the Job Guarantee. This guarantees work to all those who need it, Neil Wilson explains exactly what those jobs would be. How much will it cost? Nothing, in fact it would probably turn a “profit” for the UK. Say we create one million jobs at £13k per annum. that’s £13 billion. They will pay tax like any other job and here’s the bit that doesn’t seem to fit into a NeoLiberals brain they will spend their money into the local economy. That. Spending. Is. Your. Income. The JG also works during recessions by design as part of the Automatic Stabalisers that pumps public money into the economy during downturns. Finally it puts a natural floor under wages, the state won’t have to enforce minimum wage laws because there will always be a job to be done at the established wage level set by the JG.
Why don’t we have it? Intense lobbying by employers terrified of losing their ability to drive wages constantly down, how is that in your interest? i shall leave the last words to Roy Orbison singing on behalf of the vested interests.
Oh well I’m pickin’ ’em up and I’m laying ’em down
I believe he’s gonna work me into the ground
I pull to the left I heave to the right
I wanna kill him but it wouldn’t be right
Further reading on the Job Guarantee.
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