Certain presidential candidates are promoting the idea of a Federally Guaranteed Jobs program. This proposal is competing with the idea of UBI (Universal Basic Income) proposed by other candidates.
First of all, one has to take into consideration is the fact that a Federally Guaranteed Jobs program does not equate to guaranteed federal jobs.
Think of it in this way. For decades we have had a federally guaranteed student loan program and federally guaranteed home loans. In each of these cases, the services rendered are not provided by the federal government, they are farmed out to be provided by corporate entities. The corporations make the profits while the federal government acts as the collection agency for the corporations, ruining your life for years should you default on any “federal guarantee”. Simply put, they do not guarantee the loan or service, they only guarantee that they will put the screws to your thumbs to collect for the corporations.
Right now, while federally guaranteed jobs are being discussed, our government contracts out most of the work being done. Contracts out to corporate entities who do the work for corporate profit, that is. Road construction and repair, building design/construction/renovation, food production and delivery, weapons manufacturing and research. You name it, the government probably contracts for it.
So it most likely means that when we talk about federally guaranteed jobs, what we are really talking about is federally subsidizing corporate profits. Above and beyond the level to which we already subsidize corporate profits through government grants and subsidies. We subsidize corporations through welfare and food stamps, allowing them to continue to pay low wages while collecting inflated profits. We subsidize the current and past bailouts of corporate banks through quantitative easing and the repo market. We subsidize corporate profits through sanctions and tariffs and tax breaks. We subsidize profits for wealthy investors and executives through bankruptcy laws that allow for pre-bankruptcy dividends and post-bankruptcy bonuses for executives. All while writing off unpaid debts to other businesses and individuals who will be forced to also declare bankruptcy or increase prices for the debts they were unable to collect. We subsidize through slashed benefits and seized pension funds.
So, let’s expand on that further, right?
It is only a very small step between federally guaranteed jobs to federally mandated jobs.
A huge difference between UBI and federally guaranteed jobs is the chance for self advancement. UBI is suggested as an income for every person as a means of meeting their basic needs, hence the term “basic”. It should cover food, housing, shelter and ideally basic medical needs. Thus, if a person wishes to move beyond absolute basics in their existence, they can work part time or full time, even overtime as their needs or desires dictate. Their employment income serves as a means forward beyond mere existence.
With the guaranteed jobs program, this does not happen. The income from the job serves as nothing more than spinning your wheels. That job becomes your basic income. If you want to move ahead, you would be exactly where millions of Americans are at this exact moment. You would have to forfeit family and leisure time, subject yourself to more physical and emotional stress, chasing a higher income while paying more taxes in the process.
Which one sounds more like a move forward for our society, for the individual?
I have already written that UBI in and of itself would require additional measures to counterbalance the responses from capitalists. If you missed that article, you can find it here.