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Federal Jobs For All! Yes, that’s what we need!

24 Apr 2018

So says Bernie Sanders, or at least that is a bill he is trying to put together.  As reported over at The Hill, Sanders’ program would provide everyone at least $15/hr, in either work or training.  They would also receive health care.  Darrick Hamilton, an economist at The New School, told the Washington Post,

“The goal is to eliminate working poverty and involuntary unemployment altogether,” ….“This is an opportunity for something transformative, beyond the tinkering we’ve been doing for the last 40 years, where all the productivity gains have gone to the elite of society.”

Now this proposal is doomed to failure on political grounds, but nevertheless Sanders is similarly being joined by

other possible 2020 contenders, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who have also expressed support for similar proposals in recent weeks.

It’s of course true that Mr. Sanders could eliminate involuntary unemployment with a guaranteed job for all.  But it would come at a cost of a poorer country overall, and less opportunity for everyone else.  Every dime of resources that the government spends is necessarily a dime that is not at some level invested in the private sector.  This means that as you increasingly create “opportunity” with make-work jobs, you must decrease opportunity with real value producing jobs.  It’s not clear to me that, even if acted, it would be viewed any differently than W.P.A. jobs in the Great Depression, and there is a reason we no longer have these.

Further, isn’t it interesting that in an era of full employment, where virtually anybody that wants to get a job can get one (albeit not necessarily doing what they want to do, or where they want to do it), that this is such an important thing for Mr. Sanders?  And as for health care, didn’t we already solve that problem with the Affordable Care Act?  What am I missing?  Just that not everyone gets $15/hr?  Well the market is increasingly getting there as the Trump Economy is gaining steam.  Maybe Mr. Sanders should just cheer the current economy on!*

* Not that the economy needs anyone to cheer it, but rather it needs politicians to leave well enough alone and not stifle it yet again.