Yves here. Another way to think about the warning of this post is: Beware of Silicon Valley libertarian billionaires bearing gifts.
By Naked Capitalism reader aliteralmind, aka Jeff Epstein, an independent and progressive journalist with Citizens’ Media TV who was a finalist with Brand New Congress, was one of around forty candidates in the country to be personally endorsed by Bernie Sanders during the 2016 primary, and was a pledged delegate for Sanders at the DNC. Originally published on Citizens’ Media TV
This article was inspired by the tweet at the bottom of this article, and the discussion in this Facebook thread, and in particular, the comments of Steve Grumbine.
FJG > UBI
No. That’s not right. The Federal Job Guarantee is not just better than Universal Basic Income, it’s the only good option. The UBI is a Trojan Horse for the reduction and elimination of wages and safety net programs for the powerless. UBI is sinister.
Universal Basic Income: ??☠?????♀️??
UBI adds money to the economy without increasing production or output. This is how you cause inflation: The creation of money without consideration of the real resources available to you. (Sure, everyone can have a pony, but not tomorrow!)
If the government is now paying your salary, even if you are performing poorly, even if you are not working:
- This incentivizes private industry to further reduce wages, which logically extends to the reduction – or elimination – of minimum wage laws.
- Then what’s the point of social safety net programs such as welfare, food stamps, subsidized housing, Medicaid, Social Security, etc.? These programs would necessarilybe eliminated.
- Then what’s the point of fighting so hard for free healthcare and free tuition and lower prescription drug costs and so on? Now people can, at least somewhat, at least temporarily, afford the private industry alternatives. The fights for these progressive programs would just…end.
- Now, all of the sudden, everyone can afford shit. All at the same time. Competing with everyone for the same stuff, with no increase in productive capacity. UBI is therefore, by its very definition, inflationary. This governmental salary, this “negative tax” for those at the bottom, is instantly devalued. At best, income and wealth inequality is not reduced.
- Would this increase or decrease the incentive to get or keep a job? At least at first…
Here’s the true sinister plot behind UBI: Picture a future and less-friendly Congress, after all these safety nets have been reduced or eliminated. They come in and eliminate or dramatically reduce the UBI program because “these deadbeats want everything for free?!” Our nation is instantly plunged into a private corporation slave-wage hellscape. No wage or workplace protections, no safety net programs at all.
UBI risks putting the United States into a much much worse position than it already is today…. Well, that is, if you care about the powerless.
The Federal Job Guarantee: ??✊???????
FJG adds money to the economy by increasing productivity and output. This is how you avoid, or greatly reduce the severity of, inflation. It forces private industry and the military to up their game, in order to be competitive with the FJG: better than bare-minimum living wage, benefits, and working conditions. It takes away the excuse of “I’m not hiring you… You’ve been unemployed. Ewww.”
If a future, less-friendly Congress were to come in and eliminate or reduce the FJG program, then those FJG job people would indeed once again be unemployed. But everyone else would still have those better jobs with better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Yes, without the “public option” FJG to compete with private industry, these things will start to degrade. But we would revert back to a position still substantially betterthan we are today.
Two Final Points: Busywork and Robots
If the FJG creates “busywork” pointless jobs, it is not a problem of the FJG itself, but rather a reflection of poor implementation of the FJG at the local level. There are basically an infinite number of genuinely useful things to be done at the local level, throughout the country.
The fear of automation is nonsense. We should embrace automation. Robots can cook our cheeseburgers, wash our cars, and accept and dispense cash better and faster than humans. But robots cannot take care of our children or seniors, they cannot entertain us, create works of art, write our books, or be our primary care physicians or psychologists. Leave the more physically taxing and repetitive drudgery work to the robots. Leave the infinite number of more satisfying and productive jobs for us humans.
And this is really key. #UBI acts as a wage subsidy so that employers can reduce wages, leading to further inequality. which is why the right likes it.
A #JobGuarantee does the opposite. It forces employers to up their game.
— Patricia (@PatriciaNPino) April 26, 2018