The BIG in a JIG would Safeguard the JG

One concern with a job guarantee being proposed in isolation is that opponents clearly attempt to paint the policy as workfare and, possibly worse, right-wing advocates or implementers of the policy would attempt to introduce it in that pernicious form rather than in the way that the job-guarantee advocates clearly intend, which is as a job with minimum wage and basic conditions attached. There is no doubt that the job guarantee, as intended by modern monetary theorists, is very different from workfare.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think that introducing a basic income in conjunction with a job guarantee to form a ‘job and income guarantee‘ would be the surest protection against the job-guarantee concept being twisted into workfare. The existence of a basic-income option would strengthen the position of the unemployed, because if the job guarantee was considered unsatisfactory in its implementation, there would be a viable alternative.

Likewise, by ensuring a better job-guarantee program, the position of workers in the broader economy would also be strengthened, because the job guarantee and basic income would both provide them with better alternatives than they currently have. This would give workers a bit more bargaining power over wages and conditions.

11 thoughts on “The BIG in a JIG would Safeguard the JG

  1. I don’t think this should be a matter of either one or the other, but not both.

    Like I said, personally speaking, if I had a choice between a JG and a BIG, I’d be much happier with a JG (unless I were mentally/physically incapable); others may see things differently. I have no problem with that.

    Having said that, if given the choice between a JG and a BIG a friend asked my personal opinion (say, because I’m older and supposedly more experienced LOL), my advice would be to take the JG, for his/her own good.

    At Jacobin they have been debating this subject, too. Have a look at this post. I completely agree with it (although, ironically enough, they fail to consider the JG):

    Ross Douthat and the Young Marx, by Evan Burger.
    Why Marx loved work — and we should, too.
    http://jacobinmag.com/2013/03/ross-douthat-and-the-young-marx/

  2. My feeling on the matter is similar to what you expressed in your comment, although it is doubtful that I would opt for a job. I am too busy for that.

    But many people do desire a job, and it is a disgrace that society currently denies them this minimal guarantee.

    The Burger article is excellent. Thanks for that.

  3. I think we need to acknowledge that whenever there is a government program involving large sums, many people in power positions see it as a backdoor to the Treasury and scheme over how to drive their truck in for as much of the loots as they can get. This is really what privatization is about and to think that any program will be immune to this push is naive in my view. A JG is no exception and the strategy will be to convert it to some sort of workfare in which the private sector gets to profit.

    This is why I think that if there is going to be a JG, there needs to be a BIG also, since a BIG is much more difficult to privatize.

  4. Fully agree that the BIG is the most important. But I have qualms on pushing the BIG or certainly the JG in isolation because it seems to ignore the fundamental elephant in the room – the fact that just a few people own everything. Do we not sound a bit like a bunch of slaves sitting around the campfire getting ready to demand from our masters a minimal basic living? A ridiculously minimal demand actually, all while leaving intact the basic institution of servitude.

    I think the BIG needs to be accompanied with a demand to nationalize / (internationalize) the key oligopolistic corporations.so that they’re run under public oversight in the public interest. There’s a host of widely accepted mainstream economic reasons to back that up, as even the most conservative economists agree that monopolies (and oligopolies are basically the same) need to be either tightly regulated or publicly owned. Small stockholders I’d think should be compensated. I know a common response is often one thing at a time but, even aside from the sound “economic” basis for public control of the largest companies, the reality is that the biggest opposition to BIG will come from the consolidated power of these firms.

  5. I liked the JIG idea the first time I saw it here and still think it is much stronger than only JG.
    The problem is people’s mindset of today – it will be difficult task to push it politically forward.
    It will eventually come in the future but after the success of JG first.

    There is no doubt for me that some people, especially those with some kind of talent (I am not one of them (-:), would gladly chose BIG in the JIG, therefore contributing much more to society.

    Imagine, for instance, one Larry David jobless and moneyless. :-) Do you think Larry would chose a JG instead of BIG? He even said it in one of the “Curb your enthusiasm” episodes, that he owes everything to his father, because when he was young his father supported him financially, so Larry didn’t have to work in order to make the living, but had the time to find out he could actually write and later, of course, he co-created “Seinfeld”, although I like “Curb your enthusiasm” even more.

    Off topic now: Peter, can’t you put some gadgets in heteconomist.com under each post to be able to link to Google+, Twitter, Facebook and other such?

  6. Like most here, I think the economics of it all is sound.
    Like most things advocates of different systems get attacked for is the politics of implementation.
    The JIG is no different. As I read this piece or the previous piece I thought this is an ideal proposal to get the JG up because the compromise to reach a deal in current political environments will make it drop the BIG part of the JIG, leaving just the JG.

  7. Off topic now: Peter, can’t you put some gadgets in heteconomist.com under each post to be able to link to Google+, Twitter, Facebook and other such?

    Done. (Hopefully.) At least the usual suspects.

    “Maybe more will be added later,” he said, glancing furtively toward the exit.

  8. Tom, if anything else, it is the BIG that is easier to privatize than the JG.

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