Unemployment

Just Released: The New York Fed’s New Regional Economy Website

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/04/2019 - 1:01am in

Jaison R. Abel, Jason Bram, Richard Deitz, and Jonathan Hastings

The New York Fed today unveiled a newly designed website on the regional economy that offers convenient access to a wide array of regional data, analysis, and research that the Bank makes available to the public. Focusing specifically on the Federal Reserve’s Second District, which includes New York State, Northern New Jersey, Southwestern Connecticut, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the new site also features information about the Bank's community engagement and outreach efforts across the region. With today’s release, we are providing new regional economic précis for local areas in our District—that is, short reports that give an overview of economic trends in each location; these reports will be updated regularly as new data are released.

Below is a snapshot of the newly designed website, as well as a description of its four main elements:

LSE_2019_regional-economy-website_abel_460_art

Calendar of Releases and Events
In this section of the website, we identify upcoming reports and data releases from the New York Fed that focus on the regional economy. We also highlight past and upcoming regional economic press briefings and other events we hold across the region.

Regional Economic Indicators
Here you will find links to data and other timely information we produce on the regional economy, such as our monthly business surveys and the

Beige Book. In addition, you can click on local areas within our District to see economic information about that area. Each area’s webpage includes a table of descriptive statistics, as well as a short briefing package (here’s one for Albany, for example) that presents charts on employment growth, population growth, and unemployment rates, among other measures. These charts will be kept up-to-date, so you can return regularly to see the latest trends in the regional economy.

Regional Research and Analysis
In this section, we provide links to our economists’ Liberty Street Economics blog posts about the region, as well as other Federal Reserve reports and research papers on regional economic issues. Some recent research topics include

regional wage inequality, partnerships between community colleges and employers in New York State, and economic developments in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We also will post reports about regional business issues, such how firms are being affected by the increase in New York State’s minimum wage, as well as updated information on local credit conditions and trends among small businesses.

Community Engagement
Here we provide information and reports about community development, such as assessing businesses’ access to capital, as well as reports in support of the Community Reinvestment Act. We also have a section that details workforce development issues for our region. Finally, we provide information about regional visits by our Bank president, and post presentations our economists make on regional economic conditions across our District.

We hope our new website will be useful for those interested in learning more about the regional economy, or monitoring economic conditions for local areas within the Federal Reserve’s Second District.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

Abel_jaisonJaison R. Abel is an assistant vice president in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Bram-Jason_90Jason Bram is a research officer in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Deitz_richardRichard Deitz is an assistant vice president in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Hastings_jonathan
Jonathan Hastings is a research associate in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

How to cite this blog post:

Jaison R. Abel, Jason Bram, Richard Deitz, and Jonathan Hastings, “Just Released: The New York Fed’s New Regional Economy Website,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics (blog), April 18, 2019, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2019/04/just-released-the-....

Video of Indigenous Australian Pop Band Yothu Yindi

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 15/04/2019 - 6:40pm in

This is another interesting piece of global pop I found on YouTube. It’s of the indigenous Australian pop Yothu Yindi, performing their track ‘Treaty’. It’s a a sharp criticism of the failure of Australia’s mainstream politicians way back in 1988 to formulate a treaty with the continent’s indigenous peoples despite promises to give them a better deal and goodwill visits to indigenous communities. At least, that’s how it appears to me from the lyrics and the clips of White Ozzies visiting indigenous communities and participating in displays of indigenous culture.

I  can remember reading about the emergence of indigenous Australian pop bands way back in the 1980s in one of the Sunday supplements. This mentioned a punk, or a punk-influenced band, but this song appears more or less straight pop-rock, so it may not have been Yothu Yindi. The article said that the bands had the support of young White pop-pickers, and campaigned for indigenous rights. Part of this was tribal sovereignty over their lands, so that people, who weren’t indigenous Australians, had to obtain the proper passports before entering their communities, which were closed off to the outside world.

I really don’t know much about the political situation in Australia regarding the indigenous peoples, except that there’s still much prejudice against them, and that they still suffer from massive poverty, cultural dislocation, alcoholism and unemployment, as well as the continuing effects of White Australia Policy and the mixed-race children, who were stolen from their indigenous parents to give to Whites.

The video’s clearly a protest song about the poverty, injustice and broken promises indigenous Australians face. Here it is.

Suicide Is a Rude Way to Interfere With Society Murdering You

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 15/04/2019 - 4:48pm in

Society drives you to suicide but when you go pull the trigger, they tell you your life is worthwhile and that we need you. Maybe society needs to stop sending so many mixed messages.

Lessons from the Long Depression

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 14/04/2019 - 3:05am in


A version of this post appeared on Pieria in December 2013. 
In my post “The desert of plenty”, I described a world in which goods and services are so cheap to produce that less and less capital is required for investment , and so easy to produce that less and less labour is required to produce them. Prices therefore go into freefall and there is a glut of both capital and labour. This is deflation.
There are two kinds of deflation. There is the “bad” kind, where asset prices go into a tailspin and banks and businesses fail in droves, bankrupting households and governments and resulting in massive unemployment, poverty and social collapse. America experienced this in the Great Depression and narrowly avoided it in the Great Recession. More recently, at least one European country has felt the effects of this catastrophe.
But there is also another kind. This is where falling costs and increasing efficiency of production create a glut of consumer goods and services. In other words, supply persistently exceeds demand. This is the world described by Larry Summers – a demand-constrained world. He describes it as “secular stagnation”.
Some people regard this sort of deflation as benign. After all, consumer prices are falling, people need less money in order to live well….what’s not to like? Well, it depends on your perspective. In this world, if you are fortunate to have a well-paid job, you can indeed live well. But this sort of deflation causes unemployment. Or if it doesn’t, it pushes down wages in lower-skill jobs. After all, for production costs to fall, either there must be fewer people earning wages, or wages must be lower. So we end up with a bifurcated labour market – those in high-skill, well-paid jobs, who enjoy a rising standard of living, and those who are either unemployed or in poorly-paid low-skill jobs, who become increasingly dependent on state support. Government welfare expenditure therefore rises. However, the well-off don’t like paying taxes to support the unemployed and the low-paid, so they use their electoral muscle to pressure governments to cut welfare bills. As welfare bills are cut, poverty rises among the unemployed and poorly paid. Governments may adopt draconian measures to force the unemployed into work, even at starvation wages, and to quash civil unrest.
We have seen this sort of deflation before. During the “Long Depression” in the latter part of the 19th Century – the period regarded as a “golden age” by supporters of the pre-1913 gold standard - labour markets in Europe and the US were actually depressed. As this paper explains, the second Industrial Revolution vastly increased production, resulting in falling consumer prices across the developed world. Wages were very low and there was widespread unemployment: US unemployment in 1873-4 touched 25%.
Nowadays we would not call the Long Depression a “depression” at all, since there was never negative growth as such. In Europe it is perhaps more correctly described as a Long Stagnation, and in the US….well, the US experienced growth of 3-5% throughout that period. It’s just that the benefits of that growth did not reach the unemployed and people on very low wages – exactly as is happening now.
So what happened? There was widespread civil unrest over unemployment. In response to this, countries adopted protectionist measures to support domestic employment, and searched desperately for new export markets to unload their excess supply. In Europe this took the form of imperial expansion.
But monetary policy was unsupportive. The US tightened monetary policy in order to return to the Gold Standard after the civil war. And the entire period was characterised by scarcity of gold, not just in the US. France was particularly hard hit because it was paying reparations to Germany after losing the Franco-Prussian war, and was therefore borrowing heavily even before the stock market crash that signalled the start of the Long Depression*. The failure of aggregate demand at that time was a combination of what we might call supply-side extravagance with tight monetary policy.
So how does this relate to today? We have high unemployment and a bifurcated labour market. We have supply-side extravagance in consumer goods and services, though not in essential goods such as energy, food and housing. And we have failure of aggregate demand, which stubbornly refuses to recover despite the loosest monetary policy in history - except in the Eurozone, of course, where they are operating a monetary system that looks like a Gold Standard on steroids and the central bank is in a fiscal and political straitjacket. The continuing failure of aggregate demand is the reason for the “secular stagnation” theory.
If there was tight monetary policy in the Long Depression, and loose monetary policy now, why does the outcome appear to be the same? Could it be that the monetary policy stance is actually irrelevant? And if that is the case, then what is the real cause of the failure of aggregate demand, and what should we do about it?
In “The desert of plenty”, I observed that governments desperate to create jobs, and investors desperately searching for yield, are crowding into the same waterholes. In other words, when prices are generally falling due to over-supply, there is competition between governments and private sector asset holders for increasingly scarce value. The loose monetary stance of recent years amounts to an attempt by governments to hijack the waterholes and crowd out investors. This is supposed to force investors to invest productively, generating new business and jobs. But the falling prices that depress demand by definition also depress return on investment, and central banks’ actions depress that return still further. On this basis, therefore, “loose” monetary policy appears deflationary.
But central banks’ interventions have two sides. Low interest rates and unconventional policy instruments depress returns on investment, but they also support asset prices. Investors lose on yield, but they gain on price. Or, putting it another way, investors may be crowded out of the waterholes that central banks want to occupy, but that doesn’t mean they are forced into a deflationary desert. On the contrary, when the central bank forces them out of one waterhole it obligingly provides them with another. We therefore see pockets of rising prices, mostly in various classes of asset. However, not all investors trust centrally-managed waterhole allocation, so some are creating new waterholes of their own: Bitcoin, for example. If investors don’t want to make the desert bloom, because they can’t see that there’s anything in it for them, they won’t. They will create new waterholes and defend them against all comers.
What doesn’t seem to happen much is leakage of the contents of the waterholes into the desert. If anything, the movement is the other way – the surrounding area is drained to create the waterholes. So, for example, rising property prices benefit existing homeowners but make housing more expensive for everyone else. This depresses demand in the wider economy, as those who have to pay more for their housing cut other spending. Indirectly, therefore, the property market becoming a waterhole for investors has a deflationary effect, although the direct effect appears inflationary as housebuyers are forced out to cheaper areas, pushing up prices there. Similarly, when commodities become waterholes, prices rise in essential goods such as fuel and foodstuffs, depressing demand in other sectors. And the most draining waterhole of all is Bitcoin, which is currently wasting enough energy to power a small country - energy that could be put to much more productive uses. 
The deflation associated with a persistent excess of supply over demand is anything but benign, and as the Long Depression shows, it is surprisingly difficult to deal with – not least because the “winners” in such an environment are asset holders and those with high incomes, whose political power enables them to oppose measures that really would address the aggregate demand problem, such as a basic income, public sector investment to replace the investment that the private sector refuses to do, and punitive taxation of rents.
We have played this scene before. And last time, it ended very badly indeed. The imperial expansion and trade wars of the late 19thcentury ended with a cataclysmic war: war, after all, is a highly effective (though destructive) demand stimulus. A lot of people stand to lose in the desert of plenty – and they are not voiceless. We might perhaps escape war, but we already appear to be in the throes of some kind of revolution - and revolutions don’t tend to end well.
The unemployment, poverty and inequality of the “desert of plenty” are not a failure of monetary policy. They are, above all, a political failure.
Related reading:
Keynes and the death of capitalism
A very British disease
The parable of water – FT AlphavilleInflation, deflation and QE To understand this crisis we can look to the Long Depression too – Donald Sassoon, The Guardian
Three Panics and a Nonevent - Marcus Nunes
*France was the principal driver of punitive reparations imposed on Germany after WWI, and the principal enforcer, too: it was French seizure of the Ruhr after Germany defaulted on its reparations that triggered the worst period of the Weimar hyperinflation. Memories are long: I wonder if France’s treatment of Germany at that time arose from resentment of the reparations it had previously paid to Germany itself.
Image of flowers in the desert is from Wikipedia. 

Have the Tories Killed More Disabled People than the Nazis?

Some may be outraged by the question, but it’s perfectly legitimate. The Nazis were Social Darwinists, who believed that the social elite, aristocrats and businessmen, were biologically superior to those at the bottom of the social hierarchy. And like Social Darwinists elsewhere in the West, they bitterly despised the disabled. They were ‘lebensunwertigen Leben‘, ‘life unworthy of life’, and a danger to the racial purity and biological fitness of the German people. Other nations had attempted to prevent the congenitally disabled from breeding through eugenics legislation providing for the sterilisation of the congenitally disabled and mentally handicapped. 22 American states had passed such legislation prior to the Nazi seizure of power, and when the Nazis in their turn enacted such laws, they claimed they had done nothing new. But they went much further, setting up a programme of official euthanasia in which the disabled and the incurably insane were taken by the SS to special clinics, where they were medically murdered.

A similar attitude seems to underlie the Tories’ policies towards the disabled and the hated fitness to work tests. These are based on policies introduced by Blair’s New Labour, in that the disabled are required to undertake tests administered by private contractors like Atos and now Maximus in order to judge whether they are ‘fit for work’. Those that are, are thrown off benefits and left to survive on their own. And all too many don’t. As has been pointed out by left-wing and disability rights bloggers and activists, the tests are based on pseudoscience within an inbuilt assumption that people are malingering. Whistleblowers have also come forward to tell how there are targets set by the DWP for declaring a certain proportion of claimants well enough to work, even though they are anything but. Blogs like Atos Miracles and the satirical magazine Private Eye have reported incidents where people in terminal comas have been declared fit for work, along with others with serious physical and mental conditions. Amputees have been asked when they expect their limbs to grow back, and depressives suffering from suicidal thoughts have been asked why they haven’t attempt to kill themselves. People in real, pressing need have been thrown off benefits and left to starve to death. Mike at Vox Political and other activists and bloggers have fought hard  to get the statistics out of the DWP for the number of people, who have died after being declared fit for work. The Tories have attempted to refuse the information, and only very grudgingly released it. At the same time they have also consistently denied that there is any connection between their policies and the deaths of the disabled and the unemployed, who have suffered similar removal of benefits under the infamous sanctions system. This has been so even when people have taken their own lives, leaving behind notes explaining why they have taken their own lives and placing the blame firmly on the DWP’s iniquitous policies.

Yesterday John McDonnell, Corbyn’s chief ally, urged people to make their concerns about the hardships caused by the DWP and Universal Credit known to their MPs personally, especially Tory MPs. He believes that if MPs personally met people, whose lives have been made worse through the sanctions system and Universal Credit, MPs would have a greater understanding of their suffering than through the ordinary process of parliamentary debate.

Mike in his piece about it was sceptical, pointing out that the government shares the same fundamental attitude towards the disabled as ‘useless eaters’, and believe that any policy that cuts down their number is good for the nation. Which means that it allows them to give massive tax cuts to the very rich. Mike also points out that the same rich the Tories defend and promote are far worse parasites, as they contribute less to the economy and use more of the state’s resources, funded by the taxpayer. Many of the business elite aren’t responsible for establishing the businesses they own or run. They simply inherited them.

But contacting the Tories won’t do any good. They’ll simply spit out the same old stories denying that their policies are responsible for the suffering and death they have manifestly caused. Meeting the disabled and unemployed personally won’t do any good either, they’ll just nod solemnly, look concerned and then carry on as before. This is because the Tories want the disabled and the unemployed, who find it difficult to get work, to die. Mike feels that the only way the DWP’s reign of terror can be stopped is if a court case or public inquiry found that a reasonable person would conclude that there was a connection between their policies and the deaths of the unemployed and disabled. This would open the way to the government being prosecuted for corporate manslaughter, possibly of as many as 100,000 people, although this is a conservative estimate.

The only other possibility is through a general election which puts Labour in power, though this may not be possible. Although the public believes in Labour’s policies, they are being deliberately misled into thinking that Corbyn himself is a threat. Hence the spectacle last week of soldiers in Afghanistan shooting at a picture of the Labour leader. Mike concludes

The system is stacked against Labour, and therefore against anybody who is in a position of vulnerability; anybody who isn’t a vastly rich Tory.

So if you have a relative or friend who has to claim sickness and/or disability benefits, go and see them, and give them a lot of affection. They may soon be dead – and if you voted Conservative, it’ll be because of your vote.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/04/08/confront-your-mp-personally-about-tory-abuse-of-people-on-benefits-says-mcdonnell/

Mike here is absolutely right. The rich do use more state services than the poor, which is one reason why they should be charged a consequently higher tax rate. And the Tories have cut welfare benefits in order to give massive tax breaks to the rich. Who don’t pass the benefits of their increased wealth further down the social hierarchy in the form of wages increases or opening new businesses. It simply stays in their accounts. And they really do seem keen to kill as many of the poor and disabled as possible.

Which brings us back to the Nazi euthanasia campaign. This ran between January 1940 and August 1941, when public outrage led by the Roman Catholic aristocrat, Count Galen forced the Nazis to abandon it. By that time they had murdered somewhere between sixty to eighty thousand disabled people. See D.G. Williamson, The Third Reich (Harlow: Longman 1982) 68-9.

If the Tories are responsible for the deaths of 100,000 people through Universal Credit, benefit sanctions and the fitness for work tests, then they have killed at least 20 – 40,000 more people disabled people than the Nazis.

This is horrendous. I dare say that Tory supporters would reject the comparison, as those left to die are not being forcibly taken to places against their will, like the Nazis’ murder hospitals or concentration camps, where they are then murdered by SS soldiers or compliant doctors. They are just thrown off benefits to starve on their own, so that the Tories, with a clear conscience, can say that they had nothing to do with their deaths.

But they did, and are. And its a disgrace. It’s long past time the Tories’ murder of the sick, disabled and unemployed was ended. Ideally those responsible, like Iain Duncan Smith, should be personally brought to trial and charged with their manslaughter. But this is probably impossible. The best solution would, as Mike says, be a Labour government brought in by a snap election.

And the fact still remains that the Tories have now killed more disabled people than the Nazis, and that those who voted for them are complicit in this.

Expecting the Unexpected: Job Losses and Household Spending

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/03/2019 - 10:00pm in

Tags 

Unemployment

Fatih Karahan, Brendan Moore, and Laura Pilossoph

 Job Losses and Household Spending

Unemployment risk constitutes one of the most significant sources of uncertainty facing workers in the United States. A large body of work has carefully documented that job loss may have long-term effects on one’s career, depressing earnings by as much as 20 percent after fifteen to twenty years. Given the severity of a job loss for earnings, an important question is how much such an event affects one’s standard of living during a spell of unemployment. This blog post explores how unemployment and expectations of job loss interact to affect household spending.

It’s plausible to think that people have a hunch about the safety of their job. They may form these expectations based on the profitability and growth of their employer, industry trends, or how they are treated by their superiors. Being able to predict a job loss can help workers weather a spell of unemployment—by saving money and looking for other jobs, for example. By the same token, workers who suffer a completely unforeseen job loss may have to make sudden, substantial changes to their lifestyle, cutting spending, adjusting their consumption patterns, and so on.

To shed some light on these issues, we analyze data from the Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE), which asks respondents, among many other things, to gauge the likelihood of losing their job over the next twelve months. The upper panel of the chart below shows the distribution of these job loss probabilities for a sample of household heads. The majority of our sample assigns a less than 10 percent chance to experiencing job loss over the next twelve months. Around 20 percent of the sample believes their job loss risk to be between 10 and 20 percent. Interestingly, a non-negligible share of the sample (10 percent) assesses the chance of job loss at more than 50 percent, with some individuals believing with certainty that they will lose their job over the course of the next year.

 Job Losses and Household Spending

How informative are these subjective expectations about the incidence of future job loss? Because the SCE allows us to link these subjective expectations to changes in labor market status, we can investigate their informational content using the longitudinal dimension of the survey. The lower panel of the same chart shows that people do have quite a bit of information about their job stability: We split the same sample into (i) those who experience a job loss within twelve months of answering the job loss expectations question (gray bars) and (ii) those who do not (gold bars). As shown by the gold and gray bars, nearly half of all workers who kept their job over the following year initially reported a job loss probability of less than 10 percent, compared to only 38 percent of those who indeed went into unemployment. Likewise, 10 percent of workers who lost their jobs in the subsequent twelve months were fairly certain of their coming separation (over 80 percent subjective job loss probability), compared to only 2 percent of those that remained employed. These findings hold up even when we control for differences in gender, age, education, race, and marital status.

Does the ability to anticipate job loss help people cope with the consequences of such a disruption? To investigate this, we first look at how the event of a job loss affects spending. The blue bar in the chart below shows that households whose head becomes unemployed cut their spending by 3.5 percent. This decline is large—both statistically and economically. For context, in a typical recession in the United States (excluding the Great Recession), aggregate spending falls by around 1.5 percent relative to its trend.

Do anticipated job losses have a different impact on spending than unanticipated job losses? To answer this question, we first classify each job loss as anticipated or unanticipated based on the subjective probabilities reported by the respective survey participant. More specifically, we first compute an actual job loss rate for each demographic group. Then, if someone reports a subjective job loss probability that is one standard deviation above this group-specific unemployment risk, and indeed ends up becoming unemployed, we classify this event as an anticipated job loss. To the contrary, if someone reports a low subjective probability (relative to their group) and becomes unemployed, we classify this as an unanticipated job loss.

 Job Losses and Household Spending

The second column shows that having some idea of the actual job loss risk helps. The decline in spending is much larger, around 5 percent, for households that were taken by surprise. Interestingly, our point estimates indicate some decline in spending for unemployed households that had anticipated job loss, though with lower statistical precision. This could point to liquidity constraints that are preventing households from smoothing consumption.

What types of spending do households prioritize and which ones do they cut when the head of the household becomes unemployed? To investigate this, we use the responses to questions about whether a household made certain types of large purchases over the previous four months containing the start of the unemployment spell. We aggregate detailed questions into four broad categories: housing-related expenditures (such as purchasing a house or spending on home improvement), car-related spending, spending on other durables (such as electronics, household appliances, and furniture), and vacation-related spending. We estimate via a linear probability model how the likelihood of spending on various categories changes when the head of household becomes unemployed, controlling for demographic characteristics as well as past large purchases of the same category. The chart below shows that the likelihood of spending on vacations and durables declines by 7 and 8 percentage points, respectively. When newly jobless individuals feel that they must decrease spending, vacations and other luxuries are the easiest items to cut. Moreover, purchases of certain nonessential household durables—a TV, a coffee table—can be delayed while individuals lack a steady income. Interestingly, we find that a transition into unemployment does not affect consumers’ decisions with respect to buying a house, making home improvements, or purchasing a car.

These findings accord with the idea that home repairs—to fix a leaky basement or faulty air conditioning—are more urgent needs and may be less responsive to income shocks induced by unemployment. Likewise, unemployed people might be unlikely to delay purchasing a car, which could be important for transportation to and from job interviews.

 Job Losses and Household Spending

Disclaimer


The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

Fatih Karahan
Fatih Karahan is a senior economist in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Brendan MooreBrendan Moore is a senior research analyst in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Laura Pilossoph
Laura Pilossoph is an economist in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.


How to cite this blog post:


Fatih Karahan, Brendan Moore, and Laura Pilossoph, “Expecting the Unexpected: Job Losses and Household Spending,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics (blog), March 27, 2019, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2019/03/expecting-the-unex....

The Prussian Confessional Church’s Denunciation of Nazi Genocide

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/03/2019 - 4:45am in

One of the scandals of the Nazi regime was that the churches, who should have led the opposition to Nazism, did far too little to resist. And quite often the resistance that was offered was simply to preserve their own freedom against the demands and attempts at coordination by the Nazi state. Nevertheless, there were many heroic Christian clergy and lay people, who did resist Nazism, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who declared Hitler the Anti-Christ. 400 Lutheran pastors paid for their opposition by being murdered in Buchenwald concentration camp. The Nazis also devised a special emblem to be worn by Christian opponents of Nazis – Bibelforscher, ‘Bible Students’, as they were dubbed. This was a purple triangle, like the pink triangle worn by gay men and the black triangle of the ‘asocial’ and ‘workshy’. Most of those interned were Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refused to accept Hitler as a ‘secular messiah’.

In June 1936 the Confessional Church – a Lutheran organisation that had split off from the official National Church – issued the Barmen Memorandum attacking not only Nazi anti-clericalism, but also Nazi ideology, racial anti-Semitism, the perverted judicial system and the concentration camps. Some of those who signed it, including the head of the Confessional Church Friedrich Weissler, were imprisoned and executed. Seven years later, in October 1943, the Prussian Confessional Synod at Breslau denounced the Nazi extermination policy as unchristian. They declared

Concepts such as “rooting out”, “liquidation” and “unworthy life” are not known to the Divine order. The extermination of people solely because they are related to a criminal, or old or mentally disturbed or belong to an alien race is not a sword to be wielded by the state.’ This included ‘the life of the people of Israel’. Moreover, claiming that you were merely acting on orders was no defence: ‘We cannot permit superiors to relieve us of our responsibility before God.’

See: Karl Dietrich Bracher, The German Dictatorship (Harmondsworth: Penguin 197) 477.

D.G. Williamson, The Third Reich (Harlow: Longman 1982) 76.

James Taylor and Warren Shaw, A Dictionary of the Third Reich (London: Grafton Books 1987) 88.

I’m putting this up because the extreme Right in America and Europe is trying to justify its demands for the persecution of Muslims and their forcible removal or mass murder as the necessary defence of Europe’s Judaeo-Christian and secular, enlightenment heritage. The Nazis despise the Enlightenment and its doctrines of tolerance, humanity and the brotherhood of nations, which should serve as a warning to anyone who believes they can adopt their policies to defend it. And while many Nazis were Christians, and were supported by anti-Semites within the churches and wider German and European society, others like Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazis official ideologue, and Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, were fervently anti-Christian. Hitler himself was a pantheist. He had been raised a Catholic, but had very much turned against his upbringing. In his Table Talk he freely describes how unimpressed he was with his RE teacher at school, how since he was 12 years old he wanted to blow the Catholic mass up with dynamite, and how the Reich should found astronomical observatories all over Germany as part of a campaign to destroy Christianity. And one of the reasons the mainstream churches are uniting with Muslims to denounce the massacre in New Zealand is because of memories of the Third Reich, and the churches’ collaboration with the Nazis, as well as other atrocities committed through history in the name of religion.

The Barmen Memorandum and the 1943 condemnation of Nazism by the Breslau Confessional Church not just condemn Nazism, but also anyone else who seeks to exterminate other innocent people simply because they are of a different race or ethnicity. And that includes modern Western racial terrorists of the Nazi, Alt Right, or racial populist fringe, such as New Zealand murderer.  

The Rights’ Conflation of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Capitalism and the Erasure of Left-Wing Jewish History

Just as the Jewish Chronicle may have itself been guilty of anti-Semitism by denying that one of the signatories to the letter of support for Corbyn and the Labour party sent to the Sunday Times, so other members of the right may also be aiding anti-Semitism by their repeated use of the conspiracy theory that the Jews are the real force behind capitalism.

Three days ago, on 16th March 2019, David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group, an ardent campaigner himself against racism, anti-Semitism and thus Zionism, put up on his blog an article discussing this very point, which had been published that day in the Morning Star. He began by commenting on the statement by Blairite Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh to John Humphrys on Radio 4 that ‘anti-capitalist politics are at the root of anti-Semitism’. Rosenberg states that it’s an appalling slur against everyone fighting against the poverty and inequality of Tory Britain, but it also revealed that the Right, even those, who think they are pro-Jewish, still believe anti-Semitic stereotypes, as McDonagh obviously thinks that Jews are rich capitalists.

He goes on to discuss how this is at the heart of the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that sees the Jews as using their wealth to control the banks and governments. A theory that was pushed by Henry Ford, an Episcopalian Christian and founder of the car manufacturer that bears his name, in his paper the Dearborn Independent. Ford believed that the Jews caused World War I, and published the infamous Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And someone else who believed this poisonous nonsense, and was Ford’s biggest fan in Europe, was one A. Hitler.

Rosenberg goes on to discuss how there are Jews, who identify the Jewish community with capitalism, banking and property and so accuse the anti-capitalist left as anti-Semites. He then cites Richard Mather, who claimed in an article in the Jerusalem Post that ‘the Labour party’s call for the seizure of property’ was part of ‘anti-Semitic class warfare’, and pieces written by the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, and one of his journos, Alex Brummer, who both claimed that Corbyn was an anti-Semitic threat to Jewish capitalists, with Pollard harking back to Corbyn’s attack on the bankers that caused the financial crash ten years ago. Rosenberg tweeted in response to this nonsense that of Pollard and Corbyn, one of them thought all bankers were Jews. And it wasn’t Corbyn.

Rosenberg goes on to say that

In my 61 years I’ve never met a Jewish banker. I’ve met unemployed Jews, Jewish decorators, post-office workers, van drivers, taxi drivers, shopworkers, social workers, secretaries, teachers, pharmacists, and several comedians.

He reinforces this point by describing how Arnold Brown, a Jewish comedian, who came from a poor background in Glasgow, tore up the floorboards at his home one day after the other schoolkids told him that all Jews were rich. He also makes the point that the racist Right use the stereotype of the rich Jewish capitalist to divert popular anger away from capitalism to particular Jewish figures, who are supposed to be responsible for its ills, such as Rothschild and Goldman Sachs to George Soros today, demonised by Trump and a slew of extreme right-wing regimes because he funds agencies for migrants and refugees and anti-government demonstrations.

But he also makes the point that this stereotype also erases the strong history of Jewish left-wing anti-capitalist activism, writing

When McDonagh, Mather and Pollard repeat stereotypes of Jews as capitalists, they not only feed these conspiracy theories, but also erase an outstanding tradition of Jewish anti-capitalism. People know the famous Jewish revolutionaries, like Marx, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemberg, Emma Goldman, but it was in mass Jewish workers’ movements such as the Bund, and among the Jews so numerous in socialist and communist parties over the last 120 years, that anti-capitalism was ingrained. In 1902, a Russian Jewish bookbinder, Semyon Ansky, wrote a Yiddish song to honour the Bund’s struggles for social justice. The movement adopted it as its anthem. One powerful verse translates as:

“We swear to the heavens a bloody hatred against those who murder and rob the working class. The Tsar, the rulers, the capitalists – we swear that they will all be devastated and destroyed. An oath, an oath, of life and death.”

He goes on to say that he is going that day to march and speak with the Jewish Socialist Group on a national demonstration in London against racism and Fascism, including the anti-Semitism that is rising in central and eastern Europe and Trump’s America with the Pittsburgh shooting.  He concludes

At street level, far right organisations concentrate physical attacks more frequently on Muslims, Roma, migrants and refugees, but when they want to explain to their supporters who they believe holds power in the world they fall back on Jewish conspiracy theories as surely today as they did in the 1930s. The fight against antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-migrant propaganda are absolutely linked and we must combat them together.

See: https://rebellion602.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/the-anti-antisemitism-that-actually-promotes-jew-hating/

Absolutely. Rosenberg’s blog is particularly fascinating for the pieces he publishes about the Bund, the socialist party of the eastern European masses in the Russian Empire. It’s a history that I doubt many non-Jews know about, as the Yiddish-speaking communities the Bund represented were murdered by the Nazis. If people outside the Jewish community know about it at all, it’s probably because of the movement’s connection to the Russian Socialist movement. The Bund were, with the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, part of the Russian Social Democratic Party, the parent organisation of the Russian Communists. It was their withdrawal from the party conference in 1909, when Lenin demanded that there should be no separate organisation for Jewish socialists, that made the Bolsheviks the majority faction and gave them their name, from ‘Bolshe’, the Russian word for bigger.

But the articles by David Rosenberg and other left-wing Jewish bloggers and vloggers reveal a rich, lost history of Jewish anti-capitalist struggle. One of the remarkable consequences of the anti-Semitism smears is that this history is being rediscovered and brought to public attention as Jewish Marxists and socialists refute these smears. Jon Pullman’s film, The Witchhunt, attacking these smears and particularly the libelous hounding of Jackie Walker, includes a brief mention of the Bund, including black and white footage of their demonstrations and banners. If Channel 4 had kept to its original charter as an alternative BBC 2, the Bund and its legacy would be a very suitable subject for a documentary. It could also easily be screened on BBC 4. But I doubt that this will ever happen because the stereotype of the rich Jew is too important a weapon against the anti-capitalist left for it to be refuted by such a thing as actual history.

And if left-wing Jewish history, like that of the Bund, is being forgotten, some contemporary works on the Jewish community may inadvertently reinforce the stereotype of the rich Jew. Back in the 1990s an aunt gave me a book about the Jewish community in Britain, The Club. It was a mainstream book by a very respectable mainstream publisher, but from what I can remember about it, it was about the elite section of British Jewish society, the top 100. I think it was written from an entirely praiseworthy standpoint – to celebrate Jewish achievement, and to how how integrated and indeed integral Jews were to British society and culture. But books like it can give an unbalanced picture of Jewish society in Britain by concentrating on the immensely wealthy and successful, and ignoring the ordinary Jewish folk, who live, work and whose kids go to school and uni with the rest of us, and whose working people marched in solidarity with us.

It’s fascinating and necessary that the history of Jewish socialism is being rediscovered, and that activists in the Bund’s tradition, like Rosenberg, continue to write, demonstrate and blog against racism and anti-Semitism as part of the real struggle by working people.

 

 

A Universal Job Guarantee: An End To The Neoliberal Employment Landscape?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/03/2019 - 4:00am in

Keeping with this week’s MMT Lens theme our regular Sunday reblog is by Edward Miller who is a senior campaigner for economic fairness at GETUP in Australia.

In this detailed analysis he discusses the Job Guarantee and its transformative potential and compares it to the increasingly popular Universal Basic Income proposals which will in effect offer no challenge to capitalism thus entrenching poverty and keeping the current economic power structures in place.

Originally posted on the Green Agenda website here

At any given moment there are an extraordinary number of people looking to participate and contribute to our society in ways that the private job market ignores or excludes. In this article, Senior Campaigner for Economic Fairness at GetUp Edward Miller explores the merits of a Universal Job Guarantee for confronting the perils of the neoliberal employment landscape.

At any given moment there are an extraordinary number of people looking to participate and contribute to our society in ways that the private job market ignores or excludes. Currently 700,000 people are actively looking for a job and unable to find one in a market that has only 200,000 vacancies [1]. A further one million Australians want to work more paid hours than they’re being offered [2]. And beyond that millions of Australians engage in daily work that isn’t rewarded by the market or counted in measures of output – care for families and homes, care for our land, and volunteer work to support those who have fallen through the cracks.

These are all groups of people who want to work. They want to contribute to their communities, and participate in something bigger than themselves.

Of course, some may be shackled to the labour market by a lack of alternative pathways to financial independence in a capitalist society. Others are doubtless victims of a social welfare system that stigmatises the acceptance of support so severely that people would rather the indignity of poor wages and conditions, than the perceived indignity of accepting income support. It’s even possible that we’re so deeply entrenched in neoliberal attitudes that we’ve come to see our own value through the lens of what we produce, rather than our humanity.

These are all groups of people who want to work. They want to contribute to their communities, and participate in something bigger than themselves.

But there’s also a simpler explanation, and it is the one often given by unwaged people when you ask them. At its best, work offers something far more than money or financial security. It provides social connection, a sense of purpose and contribution, an opportunity to develop new skills or discover hidden interests. Countless studies tell us that being in secure, structured work, at a living wage, creates measurable improvements in people’s physical and psychological wellbeing [3]. In other words, access to properly remunerated, meaningful work is a tremendously important pillar of individual wellbeing and social inclusion.

Countless studies tell us that being in secure, structured work, at a living wage, creates measurable improvements in people’s physical and psychological wellbeing.

A Job Guarantee is not a new idea. An individual right to work was the first proposal in FDR’s second bill of rights [4], and it was one of the primary demands in the Freedom Budget compiled by civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King and Bayard Rustin [5]. Since that time, decades of research have gone into the theoretical underpinnings and program design by economists such as Mitchell [6], Mosler [7], Wray [8], Tcherneva [9], and Kelton [10]. And we’ve seen a number of limited Job Guarantee-style policies implemented everywhere from India [11], Argentina [12], Australia [13], and the United States [14]. Today, the idea is resurgent amongst leftist movements, with Bernie Sanders bringing legislation before the US Senate [15], and GetUp in Australia making it a core part of their Future to Fight For agenda [16].

It is not possible to summarise here the entire body of literature, activism and experience that have brought this proposal back into mainstream consideration. Rather, this is an introduction to a transformative policy proposal to address the challenges of the modern employment landscape.

 

What is a Job Guarantee?

A Job Guarantee is a federally funded, locally operated program that provides anyone willing to work with the opportunity to do so in their own community. It seeks to match the untapped potential of people who are looking for work with the unmet needs of the communities in which they live. It’s a framework that would end the threat of involuntary unemployment, strengthen workers’ bargaining position, give local communities the power to redefine “work”, and provide targeted financial relief to the individuals and communities suffering the greatest social deprivation.

As with any policy proposal that sits outside the current political imagination, the devil is in the detail. In the same way that progressive advocates of a UBI would not support a version of the policy that provided individual payments in lieu of universal healthcare and education, there are iterations of a Job Guarantee that its core proponents would not support. It’s therefore necessary to begin by outlining the emerging consensus on the essential features of a progressive Job Guarantee [17].

1. Permanent & Federally Funded: A Job Guarantee should be a permanent feature of the social safety net in a society. It is not limited by a specific budget, in the same way that income support is not limited by a specific budget. Rather the amount spent in any given year will reflect the economic cycle – more people will accept work in private enterprise during periods of boom, and more people will rely on the public option during economic contractions. Various models demonstrate that the cost of a Job Guarantee would be between 1-3% of GDP [18]. The net cost in our current economy would be roughly $22 billion per year [19].

2. Locally Administered: The program is primarily administered by local governments, registered non-profits, social enterprises and cooperatives. It takes the contract to the worker, creating jobs where the unemployed live. As a result it is highly targeted, creating the greatest number of jobs and offering the greatest stimulus to communities with the greatest number of unemployed people. Being locally administered also means a broader definition of work can be adopted than we currently have. Care, cultural, environmental and charitable work can be fully remunerated, with local communities empowered to decide their own needs.

3. Award conditions and wages: The wages and benefits offered under a Job Guarantee reflect the minimum acceptable standards set forth in legislation. A Job Guarantee is not exploitative workfare. Job Guarantee workers are paid the full minimum wage, and have access to benefits such as sick leave and holiday leave calculated pro-rata based on the time worked. A Job Guarantee provides a floor on which all workers can expect to stand – removing the threat of unemployment during bargaining, and strengthening casual or contract workers’ negotiating position.

A Job Guarantee provides a floor on which all workers can expect to stand – removing the threat of unemployment during bargaining, and strengthening casual or contract workers’ negotiating position.

4. Voluntary, not workfare: A Job Guarantee does not require people to work in order to receive existing benefits (such as Newstart, DSP, Youth Allowance, etc.) It doesn’t displace these options either – providing people with a choice between the existing social safety net and enrolling in the Job Guarantee. If someone chooses to accept NewStart while continuing to seek a private sector job, they always retain the option to later enrol in the Job Guarantee program. Similarly, someone who joins the Job Guarantee program is free to opt out onto existing income support payments without penalty.

5. Flexible and accessible: It meets people where they are in terms of ability, providing suitable, useful work opportunities, designed to be appropriate for the education, skill level and experience of the applicant. It offers part-time and flexible work arrangements for students or the underemployed. It is sensitive to the particular needs of groups such as at-risk youth, people who have recently left prison, or people with disabilities.

6. It invests in people and communities: On-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities are included under a Job Guarantee program to help people develop the skills and confidence to transition from public to private sector work should they want to. By allowing communities to democratically participate in deciding what work is socially useful, the offer of employment is separated from the profitability of employment. Projects are created to serve community needs, rather than prioritising “profitability” or “productivity” in a narrow sense

7. It invests in sustainability: The program should provide options for addressing environmental concerns. An early example of a guaranteed employment program, the Citizens Conservation Corps, planted 3.5 billion trees in a ten-year period [20]. A Job Guarantee program may provide a framework by which we can harness people seeking work to make a contribution and coordinate them to address the greatest moral, social and economic challenge of our era.

There are far more substantive explorations of the ways a Job Guarantee would work in practice, along with the kinds of work local councils need performed [21]. These features, however, are what distinguish a Job Guarantee from other job programs. Many job programs meet some of the above criteria (and may be worthwhile initiatives in their own right) without amounting to a Job Guarantee as envisaged by progressive economists, academics and activists.

An important thing to remember when thinking through the challenges and options that are present in the design of a Job Guarantee is that there are logistical challenges in delivering any right guaranteed by the state. Our healthcare and education systems are phenomenally complicated, expensive and imperfect – understandably so in a country as large, and regionally distributed, as Australia. But because we believe in a pre-logistical right to healthcare and education, we expect governments of all stripes to deploy the resources to figure it out, and improve over time. Shifting the debate from whether or not a right to work should exist to the quality, content and delivery of that right would itself be a powerful step.

Shifting the debate from whether or not a right to work should exist to the quality, content and delivery of that right would itself be a powerful step.

 

What are the benefits of a Job Guarantee?

Many of the benefits of a Job Guarantee may be inferred from the list of its essential features above. But it’s worth elaborating the unique benefits of a Job Guarantee to individuals, communities and the broader economy.

Secure employment for the unwaged, and underemployed

A Job Guarantee gives people seeking employment the very thing that they’re asking for: a job. It doesn’t provide them with a cheque in the mail, to address their immediate needs but then leave them to make their own way. It gives them access to, and a stake in, the means of production, by creating a legally enforceable right to work. It puts the onus on government to figure out how to include them in the labour market and provide on-the-job-training where necessary to give people the skills and competencies they need to make a difference in their communities. By targeting the unemployed, and offering them real wages and conditions rather than subsistence level income support we drastically reduce the social and economic stress placed upon many families especially during a period of economic transition and technological advance. It provides people with far more than an income, but with the significant improvements to health and wellbeing we know are attached to structured, secure employment.

More bargaining power for casual, low paid, and exploited workers.
The Australian workforce has been undergoing a trend of casualisation for at least the last two decades. The rise of the gig economy, labour-hire companies and other contract work has provided flexibility for some, while depriving a great many others of access to the workplace protections and entitlements the union movement has fought to secure. In addition to further regulatory oversight and the bargaining arrangements for contract workers being advocated by Australian unions, a Job Guarantee would create a meaningful alternative for those in casual work. Job Guarantee jobs are paid at the minimum wage, and carry the same entitlements and benefits as full time work provided pro-rata for the amount of time worked. Removing the threat of unemployment during workplace bargaining provides workers with a stronger negotiating position. Private sector employers have to offer conditions that are competitive with the Job Guarantee alternatives or they simply won’t have a workforce. This also means governments can readily enforce future changes to work requirements, shortening the working week or increasing wages and enforcing their adoption by guaranteeing access to a public alternative. This is a powerfully redistributive mechanism to reverse the downward trend in the wage-share of GDP.

Recognising and remunerating an expanded field of human activity as work.

The current boundaries of what we consider productive labour were set by capitalists, colonialists and patriarchs. Women perform significant quantities of labour that our communities would not function without, and yet which are neither remunerated nor recorded in measures of economic performance. Similarly, many regional Indigenous communities have seen young people forced to move off their land, or take work in local mines because governments have underfunded their communities and failed to provide longterm funding arrangements for successful initiatives like the ranger program [22].

The current boundaries of what we consider productive labour were set by capitalists, colonialists and patriarchs.

A Job Guarantee gives local councils, nonprofits and registered charities an unconditional pool of funding to create jobs, and to define the boundaries of work as they see fit.

Communities have diverse communal needs – from urban maintenance, to aged care, or additional help in classrooms. A Job Guarantee seeks to socialise the delivery and resourcing of community needs that aren’t sufficiently met by the market or volunteer labour. By separating the offer of employment, from the profitability of employment we are empowered to rethink what kinds of labour are socially and communally beneficial, and then pay people and train people to do it. An important feature of this model is that it breaks down the distinction between voluntary and paid labour. Rather than than paying everyone the same lump sum, and maintaining the gendered distribution of unpaid work thereafter – it offers full compensation to the people performing what would have been unpaid work.

Targeted investment in communities suffering the greatest deprivation.

A Job Guarantee targets public funds towards areas of high unemployment and social deprivation. Many regional areas have unemployment rates that are four or five times higher than the national average, and need greater stimulus than populous major cities. As people enter the Job Guarantee program, they also become local consumers, with their higher wages going towards the stimulation of private businesses in areas that previously had no alternatives. For many people it will serve more as a transitional job in a revitalised community with the funds and income base to pursue its own development. It prevents the flight of young people from regional or rural areas, and addresses many of the flow-on anti-social consequences of widespread unemployment, by ensuring that if people want to stay in the places they and their families grew up there are options that make that financially viable.

Additional resources to address unmet community needs.

In addition to providing communities with a larger, higher income consumer base and solving many of the flow-on social problems that come from involuntary unemployment, a Job Guarantee also provides local communities with a ready supply of people to address unmet community needs. Whether it’s urban maintenance and renewal, employing local artists and musicians to run classes and enrich the cultural options for residents, or just better staffing of public infrastructure and services, a Job Guarantee mobilises a pool of people toward socially desirable community outcomes. These needs will change region to region, and are best determined by local councils, and community organisations embedded within the area. A Job Guarantee also changes the marginal cost of formal public service jobs. If the government has to offer employment to everyone who wants it, the cost of outsourcing public services becomes significantly higher than retaining and expanding local staff. Not only would governments need to pay the new contractors, but they’ll also pick up the tab for any workers displaced by the new arrangement who take advantage of the Job Guarantee. A Job Guarantee offers a vision of a large, skilled public service rather than a shrivelled state run by contractors, and aligns the financial incentives of government accordingly.

A Job Guarantee offers a vision of a large, skilled public service rather than a shrivelled state run by contractors, and aligns the financial incentives of government accordingly.

Macroeconomic stabilisation: sustainable, non-inflationary full employment.

The limit of what a sovereign, currency issuing government can afford is defined by the available real resources of the economy they manage. The Australian government can afford anything that people are willing to sell to it in exchange for the Australian dollar, but if it runs deficits so large that it pushes beyond our productive limits, it will drive up prices. The economic stimulus created by a Job Guarantee by definition focuses government spending on currently unemployed resources and operates countercyclically, creating a full employment economy without inflation. During an economic contraction, the number of people accessing the Job Guarantee will grow, increasing the stimulus provided and keeping the economy at full employment without pushing it beyond. As the private sector recovers and grows, it will hire people out of the Job Guarantee program, leading to less government investment when it’s not needed. Additionally, under a Job Guarantee government injections are linked to a concrete unit of real resources: an hour of socially useful work. It anchors the value of the currency for the people earning it, preventing a host of unpredictable and potentially undesirable financial behaviours.

 

What do the critics say?

Having examined what a Job Guarantee is, and what the benefits are – let’s move on to examine the criticisms offered of the program. Some of the criticisms below are valid, some are premised on a different understanding of the future, while some are simply based on a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of what a Job Guarantee is.

“Automation and technological progress mean there won’t be any work to do.”

Many people support policies like a Universal Basic Income on the basis that the world we are moving towards is one in which many jobs simply won’t exist, in which case we should transfer wealth from the owners of the robots to the people who have been replaced by them. Without a crystal ball it’s impossible to know for certain, and if automation is as pervasive as some predict, there’s a very strong case for that kind of policy program. In the meantime, there’s good evidence to suggest that we’re a long way off a world without work. Countless studies demonstrate that rather than automation decreasing the number of available jobs, it simply changes the composition of the work required within particular jobs [23]. Given that context, it’s important that we have a policy framework that gives people a right to access to the pool of available work rather than have that access determined by the whims of the market. Even if we were to give people enough of an income to survive without work, the more radical position is ensuring that everyone has access to the means of production.

Even if we were to give people enough of an income to survive without work, the more radical position is ensuring that everyone has access to the means of production.

“A Job Guarantee is coercive, paternalistic or workfare by another name.”

Definitionally, a Job Guarantee is voluntary and non-punitive. People are welcome to take existing unemployment benefits as an alternative. People are given the full wage-benefit complement society has determined as the minimum award. A Job Guarantee does, however, not allow people to absent themselves from community altogether. It requires people to bring their skills and experience to the table for the benefit of people beyond themselves, and offers them decent pay and conditions to do so. But it also creates an obligation on the state to show up for people, rather than casting them out on their own. A guaranteed income doesn’t give someone the ability to move towards being a carpenter, a teacher, or till the fields owned by mega farms. A guaranteed job requires the government to provide people with access to the necessary training, development, support and property to make good on that guarantee and make sure community needs are being met. Apprenticeships and on-the-job training is a crucial aspect of the Job Guarantee design, meeting people where they are, and helping them develop skills that may allow them to transition to the private sector should they wish to. It allows communities, and democratically elected local councils to have direct control over what is considered work – placing power in the hands of people rather than corporations. But importantly, a Job Guarantee is not paternalistic in that it takes someone who wants a job, and gives them one. It offers people the thing they were seeking directly, rather than ineffective job incentives or a cheque with no guarantee of work attached to it.

“People won’t have the skills to perform the work needed by communities.”

There is a logistical challenge in ensuring, on the one hand, people have access to work that meets them where they are in terms of ability, experience and interest, while on the other hand trying to ensure that community needs are addressed. A Job Guarantee program can largely address this through providing on the job training, apprenticeships or even formal higher education as a work option for the unemployed. By placing the obligation on the government to find people work, we create a framework by which the government participates in managing economic transitions directly. This is not dissimilar to the way the Commonwealth Employment Scheme operated – surplus public sector hiring and on the job training would often be funded in industries in which future private sector demand was expected, ensuring people could up-skill, or re-skill as they made their way through their career.

“A Job Guarantee is administratively impossible.”

Of course there are significant challenges in making any large social program work well. Think of the amount of effort necessary to ensure a functional education system: curriculum design, physical infrastructure, sufficient teaching staff, effective assessment and grading, catering for different abilities and diverse classrooms. We don’t always get it right, but we’ve been on a century-long journey of improvement and progress because we agree with the aim. A Job Guarantee offers an expanded vision for the role of community and the state in people’s lives, rather than a system of individualised payments that enable participation in the private market. To support a Job Guarantee is to support the notion that everyone who wants a job should be entitled to one – the logistical details are a separate, and worthwhile,  debate that won’t be anywhere near concluded at the point of implementation.

But some of the logistical challenges are overstated. Most state governments are the largest single employers within their state economies. We have a model for government employment and administration of people that works. Most local councils, and registered charities already have a clear sense of additional work that could be done if they had the funding and the people to do it. At its simplest, you could imagine every Centrelink office in the country turning from an unemployment centre into an employment centre, matching people with work from job banks that are populated by local councils and community organisations.

“Full employment is inflationary.”

Recent analysis suggests that prices won’t increase significantly even at very low levels of unemployment [24]. But a Job Guarantee also mitigates inflation partly by operating countercyclically, and by anchoring government cash injections to a concrete unit of a person’s time. But significantly, a Job Guarantee also creates a buffer stock of employed people that operates in a very similar way to the buffer stock of unemployed people. The private sector can always hire out of the Job Guarantee pool of workers, just as they could out of the unemployed pool of workers – there’s a one time price effect of shifting the minimum wage-benefit package to low income private sector workers upwards [25].

“People will take advantage of the scheme to do bullshit jobs or no work at all.”

This point of view starts from a fundamentally suspicious and cynical view of human nature. By and large, unemployed people want to work. Their job status isn’t the result of a lack of character or effort, it’s the result of there not being enough jobs. People who are given the right level of ownership, training and support, and a clear sense of connection with the purpose and importance of their work – generally want to perform well. The flexibility and breadth of work under a Job Guarantee program means that many of the things people leave the private sector to concentrate on – childcare, volunteer work, care for the elderly, further education and re-training – are able to be remunerated under a Job Guarantee system. Some people may genuinely wish to absent themselves from the workforce altogether. Those people should be ensured a dignified quality of life, regardless of their engagement with the Job Guarantee program, but also be offered a level of support in case there is an underlying reason for wanting to opt out that can be resolved.

“We can’t afford it.”

In the current economy, a Job Guarantee in Australia would have a net cost of about $25 billion per year. There are numerous answers as to how governments will pay for that cost.The first and best answer is provided by an emergent stream of macroeconomic thinking sometimes referred to as Modern Monetary Theory: that sovereign, currency issuing governments can afford anything that is for sale in the currency they issue [26]. The real constraints on modern government spending isn’t whether the money exists, or the size of a specific deficit, or the public debt at a moment in time – it’s the availability of real resources in the economy. As a set of observations about the way the modern payment system works, Modern Monetary Theory is both accurate and a useful framework through which to think about progressive policy initiatives as it shifts the conversation to “is this spending worth it,” rather than the more misleading “can we afford it.”

The second answer, which is perhaps easier in the current political environment, is that the government has just passed income tax cuts worth $140 billion over the next decade. And until recently, the government was proposing corporate tax cuts worth $80 billion over the next decade. There are many arguments available to progressives in arguing against $220 billion in tax cuts over the next ten years, but my preferred answer is: we’ve got a better idea for how to spend that money. And conservatives have given up the right to tell us it’s an unaffordable amount.

The real constraints on modern government spending isn’t whether the money exists, or the size of a specific deficit, or the public debt at a moment in time – it’s the availability of real resources in the economy.

 

How does a Job Guarantee compare with a Universal Basic Income?

This article has not to this point, drawn a comparison with a Universal Basic Income. In part, this is because these policies are too often presented as in conflict or competition with each other, when really they are separate policy proposals with separate aims. Debates about policies and priorities are undoubtedly important and unavoidable within the left. But the level of energy and animosity that is often targeted at other left proposals is, I think, often destructive rather than constructive. Advocates for a Job Guarantee are not the enemy or roadblock to a UBI, or vice versa. The entrenched power of capital and the established political class are usually the common enemy of both.

Wherever possible, progressives should be looking for ways to express their views, while building the biggest, most inclusive tent possible and being generous to one another’s ideas. In that spirit, below are some observations that may help explain why many advocates have chosen to dedicate their time and energy to a Job Guarantee first.

Affordable UBIs are inadequate, and adequate UBIs are unaffordable [27].

The UK think tank Compass analysed a modest proposal for a UBI that would sit on top of existing welfare distributions. That analysis concluded that such a UBI would cost 6.5% of the UK’s GDP, but would only reduce poverty amongst working age people from 13.9 to 12% [28]. Proposals for a full-blown, living wage UBI like the one proposed by the Australian Greens would cost significantly more – in Australia, it is likely to be an annual cost of $254 billion, increasing government spending by 55% [29]. While the government can always afford such payments, for the reasons detailed above, the economy probably cannot. To prevent such a large injection from causing price increases that would negate the benefit of the policy, significant tax reform will be needed. Setting aside the political obstacles to achieving tax reform of the scope and scale required, the issue is then that the UBI is no longer universal. High, and even moderate income earners will be paying significantly higher tax such that they are no longer net-beneficiaries of the UBI payment. The key feature of a UBI as opposed to a Guaranteed Basic Income is that the universality of payment removes the stigma associated with receiving it. But it’s not hard to imagine a political future under a generous UBI where the class divide is exacerbated by the taxation rates necessary to prevent inflation, and in which net-UBI-recipients are seen as dependent on the net-tax-contributors very similarly to today.

By contrast, in most developed economies it’s estimated that the cost of entirely eradicating poverty through targeted payments that place people above the poverty line is 1% of GDP [30]. A Job Guarantee would address poverty, help redefine work and challenge neoliberal narratives of entitlement with a smaller, more immediately available step outside the political imagination and at 10% of the cost.

A standalone UBI doesn’t challenge capitalism, it enables participation in it.

Proponents of a UBI often argue that it recognises and compensates people for their humanity rather than their work. It’s a powerful idea, and an even more powerful message. The reality is, however, that unconditional payments enable people to become consumers without challenging the domain of the market over production. It entrenches an aristocracy of producers who serve a democracy of consumers. A Job Guarantee by contrast expands the pool of services, products, places, and experiences that are provided by communities rather than companies. It challenges the state to give people access to the socially owned means of production, or abridge private ownership of capital as necessary to secure access to work for all.

Moreover, a guaranteed income takes a great many people who want a job but can’t find one, and simply gives them a cheque. It does nothing to provide people who are discriminated against, or marginalised from the labor market due to their location, disability, or educational background with access to the means of production. People unable to find paid work under the status quo will be unable to find paid work under a UBI. It creates no structure or framework to give people a path to forms of social inclusion that financial independence alone doesn’t offer. The best a UBI does for these groups is give them a near-poverty wage, and leave them dependent entirely upon the private or charitable sector to produce the goods and services they need.

 

Conclusion

The last two years in global politics have been a source of both angst and inspiration for progressives. As reactionary, racist, and regressive political movements and leaders have won key victories, the left has been forced to confront the notion that the boundaries of what’s politically possible are far wider than we imagined. But within that opening, old ideas have found new purchase and debates have reignited as we search for policies that are scaled up the challenges of the world in which we live. A Job Guarantee is but one proposal but it has transformative potential, and mainstream appeal [31].

 

Edward Miller is a Senior Campaigner for Economic Fairness at GetUp. He lead the development of GetUp’s Future to Fight for policy vision and hosts the accompanying podcast. Ed was the Deans Undergraduate Scholar for Economics at the University of Sydney, where he won both the World and Australasian Debating Championships. Ed is passionate about social justice, economic fairness and effective charity, in addition to his work at GetUp he serves on the Board of 180 Degrees Consulting, the world’s largest university based consultancy. 

 

References:

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Job Vacancies, Australia cat. no. 6354.0;
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018, Labour Force, Australia cat. no. 6202.0
  3. Cristobal Young, “Losing a Job: The Nonpecuniary Cost of Unemployment in the United States” Social Forces 91(2) 609–634, Oxford University Press, December 2012
  4. Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, 1944
  5. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, “How the Civil-Rights Movement Aimed to End Poverty,” The Atlantic, February 2018
  6. William Mitchell, “The Job Guarantee and NAIRU”, Centre for Full Employment and Equity, The University of Newcastle 1998
  7. William F. Mitchell and Warren B. Mosler “Fiscal Policy and the Job Guarantee”, Centre for Full Employment and Equity, The University of Newcastle 2002
  8. Randall Wray, “A Consensus Strategy or a Universal Job Guarantee Program”, Policy Note, Levy Economics Institute, March 2018
  9. Pavlina R. Tcherneva “The Job Guarantee: Design, Jobs, and Implementation”, Working Paper, Levy Economics Institute, April 2018
  10. Randall Wray, Flavia Dantas, Scott Fullwiler, Pavlina R. Tcherneva, and Stephanie A. Kelton, “Public Service Employment: A Path to Full Employment”, Report, Levy Economics Institute, April 2018.
  11. Jayati Ghosh, “Can Employment Schemes Work? The Case of the Rural Employment Guarantee in India”, in Contributions to Economic Theory, Policy, Development and Finance (2014), edited by D.B. Papadimitriou, Levy Institute Advanced Research in Economic Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, London.
  12. Pavlina R. Tcherneva, “Beyond Full Employment: What Argentina’s Plan Jefes Can Teach us About the Employer of Last resort,” Employment Guarantee Schemes Job Creation and Policy in Developing Countries and Emerging Markets, (2012) edited by Michael Murray and Mathew Forstater, 79–102. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  13. Steve O’Neill, “Working Nation: A Progress Report”, Parliamentary Research Service, Current Issues Brief No.32, 1995
  14. Nick Taylor, American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work (2008), New York: Bantam Books
  15. Jeff Stein, “Bernie Sanders to announce plan to guarantee every American a job”, The Washington Post, April 23, 2018.
  16. GetUp, “Job Guarantee: Well-paid work for all who want it,” Future to Fight For, 2018.
  17. These core features have been distilled from the summary contained in Pavlina R. Tcherneva “The Job Guarantee: Design, Jobs, and Implementation”, Working Paper, Levy Economics Institute, April 2018
  18. Randall Wray, Flavia Dantas, Scott Fullwiler, Pavlina R. Tcherneva, and Stephanie A. Kelton, “Public Service Employment: A Path to Full Employment”, Report, Levy Economics Institute, April 2018.
  19. Claire Connolly, “Why a universal basic income is a poor substitute for a guaranteed job,” The Conversation, January 2017.
  20. John A. Salmond, The Civilian Conservation Corps 1933–1942: a New Deal case study. (1967)
  21. Beth Cook, William Mitchell, Victor Quirk and Martin Watts, “Creating effective local labour markets: a new framework for regional employment policy”, Policy Report, Center for Full Employment and Equity, November 2008
  22. Melinda Boutkasaka, Greg Dunlop, “’Invest in success’: Indigenous rangers eagerly await funding boost,” NITV News, July 2018
  23. AlphaBeta, “The Automation Advantage,” Insights, August 2017
  24. Steven Hail, Economics for Sustainable Prosperity, Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity, 2018, p234.
  25. William Mitchell, “The Buffer-Stock Employment Model and the NAIRU: The Path to Full Employment” Journal of Economic Issues 32, no 2: 547–555.
  26. For an introduction to Modern Monetary Theory, see: Steven Hail, “Explainer: what is modern monetary theory?” The Conversation, January 2017. For an academic introduction, see: Stephanie Bell, “Can Taxes and Bonds Finance Government Spending?” Levy Economics Institute, Working Paper No. 244, July 1998.
  27. Luke Martinelli, “Assessing the case for a Basic Income in the UK”, University of Bath, IPR Policy Brief, September 2017
  28. Daniel Zamora, “The Case Against a Basic Income”, Jacobin, December 2017
  29. Howard Reed and Stewart Lansley, “Universal Basic Income: An idea whose time has come?” Compass Report, May 2016 at p17.
  30. Matt Bruenig, “How much money would it take to eliminate poverty in America?” The American Prospect, September 2013.
  31. Essential Research, Weekly Omnibus survey of 1027 Respondents, 10th to 13th of 2018

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The post A Universal Job Guarantee: An End To The Neoliberal Employment Landscape? appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Is a Universal Basic Income the answer to poverty?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/03/2019 - 4:00am in

Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.

Martin Luther King Jr.

There is nothing more guaranteed to raise the heat in any political discussions on social media than the subject of Universal Basic Income versus the Job Guarantee. From the first Muslim caliph, Abu Bakr (who actually did introduce a guaranteed minimum income) to many others like Thomas Paine, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, John Kenneth Galbraith and Martin Luther King, many have suggested that the solution to poverty would be the introduction of a guaranteed annual income. With the persistent rise in poverty and inequality, it has become a hot subject in political and public circles. The trials of erroneously called ‘universal basic income’ schemes in Finland and Canada now curtailed are often the subject of fierce debate. For some, such schemes are seen as offering hope and come with great promises related to giving people a stable income to allow them choices in life and free them from the slavery of work. They promise people more resources and greater freedom to enable them to rise out of their poverty.

In the face of politically induced increasing homelessness, food bank use, income poverty and precarious work not to mention the perceived threat of automation they seem to offer to many a panacea to the ills of an exploitative capitalist system which has been aided and abetted by successive governments through the pursuit of liberalisation and deregulation. Successive governments, having embraced with enthusiasm the principle of “free markets” and wealth trickledown as a means to higher living standards and poverty reduction, are now, in the face of rising discontent and fear for their political tenure, seeking solutions.

Increasingly, a universal basic income is on the political agenda. On the left, it is being pushed as a means to fight poverty and the erosion of stable jobs, with pensions and benefits while on the right it is viewed as a way to restructure welfare systems. The Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds recently said that we need to look for progressive solutions such as a ‘Universal’ Basic Income. In Australia, the Greens have recently announced their plans for a trial of a UBI in New South Wales. John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, is set to include a pilot for one in the next election manifesto. And, only this week, the New Economics Foundation thinktank in the UK has proposed that the tax-free personal allowance should be scrapped and replaced with a flat payment, ‘a weekly allowance’ of £48 a week paid to every adult over the age of 18 earning less than £125,000 a year (which has to be said cannot be described as universal). Of course, such ideas are scarcely off the drawing board and the trials that have taken place have been cut short for political reasons and proved inconclusive.

One cannot deny that poverty is indeed a scourge on society (and has been so down the ages) and the solutions to it in recent times have rested on political ideologies. The post-war consensus brought UK governments which pursued full employment policies and saw the creation of a social security system to protect people in times of unemployment, illness, disability and old age as well as the setting up of public structures for publicly paid for free health and education services. State promotion of full employment as a policy objective plus its involvement in the provision of public services benefited citizens and provided solid foundations for securing not just price stability but the idea that the role of government was to ensure the well-being of its citizens in the common interest.

This was challenged over decades by acolytes of neoliberalism such as Milton Friedman who argued for a basic income with the precise intention of eliminating welfare payments, social security, public housing, minimum wage laws and public health and social care and replacing them with the private and or charitable sector.
The oil crises in the 1970s proved a defining historical moment when Keynesian pump-prime economics hit the buffers and was discredited. ‘Free’ market ideology was restored its crown and over the next four decades became the predominant economic paradigm seeking to transfer control of economic factors away from the public sector to the private sector and challenging the role of government spending, regulation and public ownership. From the 70s onwards, politicians on both sides of the political divide embraced neoliberalism. This not only radically reordered the economic landscape from one based on the real economy to one run by a casino style banking and finance sector but also focused on the primacy of individuals as free agents in control of their own fates. The protestant work ethic was distilled into a war of divisive words – hard working people, skivers versus strivers and welfare scroungers. Ian Duncan Smith in 2015 told disabled people they should work their way out of poverty whilst in the same year George Osborne talked about people sleeping off a life on benefits behind closed curtains and repeated the need to deliver lower welfare. Even Labour’s Liam Byrne joined in during a conference speech saying, ‘Let’s face the tough truth – that many people on the doorstep at the last election felt that too often we were for shirkers, not workers.’

This divisive language stemmed from an ideology that, since Thatcher, has promoted the individual over the collective. The neoliberal purpose to shift responsibility from the state to individuals has been served by the creation of an insidious culture of blame, which has divided society whilst allowing capital free rein to pursue its exploitative employment practices and has resulted in a massive transfer of wealth upwards aided by government itself. It has allowed governments to increasingly withdraw from their role in delivering public purpose to one where citizens are left to fend for themselves. It has done this on back of the deliberate lie of austerity, which suggests that the state finances are like household budgets and that public services depend on tax receipts. The argument hinging on affordability has, instead, allowed governments to deliver their own agendas whilst leaving citizens with reduced safety nets and struggling to make ends meet.

In such an environment it is disappointing to see the newly vitalised progressive left in the UK, albeit in seeming good faith, supporting the UBI as a mechanism to deal with growing poverty and inequality and even up the wealth stakes. Whilst offering a bold and radical vision for a fairer and more equitable future for all along with policies to address the most serious threat the human species has ever faced, it is proposing through offering UBI, to mitigate for a rotten capitalist system and maintain the status quo. Having acknowledged rightly the economic inequality and its damaging social consequences they are proposing, in effect, a deal with the capitalists. As Edward Miller who is a senior campaigner for GETUP in Australia noted a standalone UBI doesn’t challenge capitalism it simply allows continued participation in it:
“Unconditional payments enable people to become consumers without challenging the domain of the market over production. It entrenches the aristocracy of producers who serve a democracy of consumers. It does nothing to provide people who are discriminated against or marginalised from the labour market due to their location, disability or educational background with access to the means of production. People unable to find paid work under the status quo will be unable to find paid work under a UBI. It creates no structure or framework to give people a path to forms of social inclusion that financial independence alone doesn’t offer. The best a UBI does for these groups is give them a near-poverty wage and leave them dependent upon the private or charitable sector to produce the goods and services they need.”

Addressing poverty and inequality within the context of the existing political and economic framework, treats working people as exploitable and disposable in employment terms and will simply serve, yet again, the interests of capital. Furthermore, the idea that it will alleviate poverty is yet another pot of gold over the rainbow. Non-existent. It is designed to entrench poverty and the capitalist wealth and power structures not liberate working people.

It is interesting to note, however, that our own progressive politicians remain mired in orthodox neoliberal paradigms of household budgets and bringing magic money trees back from the Cayman Islands, to pay for public services. These are feeble ambitions for introducing some form of universal basic income to address the disparities in wealth and equality instead of dealing with its source, the progressive left in the US is forging ahead with a radical plan for a Green New Deal combined with a Job Guarantee. These plans are surging ahead in popularity particularly amongst young Americans whose future lies in the balance not just in environmental terms but also in terms of their hopes for making better and more stable lives for themselves. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the newly elected Congresswoman when asked how such programmes will be paid for is not afraid to challenge the dominant but false household budget paradigms and talks openly about Modern Monetary Theory. A shift in the narrative is slowly taking place but, in an environment where, for now, orthodox economists and journalists are having a field day of ridicule, poking fun, unfair criticism and misrepresentation of modern monetary realities.

So, what is the Job Guarantee and why is it preferable to a UBI? What can it offer that a UBI cannot? Is it an optional extra for any progressive government whose policy choices are informed by an understanding of how a modern monetary system works?

Firstly, Modern Monetary Theory and the Job Guarantee are integral to one another. Over the last few decades, governments have allowed their economies to operate below full employment which has purposefully served capital and been detrimental to working people in terms of lowered incomes and job insecurity.

Secondly, it serves a very important macroeconomic function as a price anchor to subdue inflation and also as a stabiliser that maintains economic activity in the real economy when total demand falls below the level required to maintain full employment. A Job Guarantee works counter-cyclically, enabling nations to weather the cyclical economic downturns, an unavoidable feature of modern economies.

And thirdly, it restores the balance of power towards labour acting not only as a redistributive mechanism but also reducing the social and economic stress that unemployment brings and thus contributes to improved health and well-being. The empirical evidence of the advantages of having a job are well researched and charted and not just related to having an income.

So how does a Job Guarantee work and what can it offer? The Job Guarantee resolves the problem of the unemployment that government taxation creates, enabling the population to earn the currency. When the private sector cannot employ all workers, especially in an economic downturn, the government can step in by providing public sector employment, at a living wage, to facilitate transition to private sector employment as the economy grows. Fundamentally, it is a permanent employment programme, fully funded by the currency-issuing national government but locally operated.

It offers local councils, non-profit organisations and charities a funding pool to create local and useful employment, payment for which then circulates in local economies. It supports local communities in the delivery of unmet needs that the market has no interest in providing because they are deemed unprofitable. It is a voluntary scheme (unlike workfare), sets a minimum floor for wages and working conditions and offers employment security and training. To hire from the pool of JB workers, the private sector must offer an improvement on the JG wage rate and benefits.

It also invites us to be creative and rethink the definition of work in relation to a changing world where technology is increasingly playing a role in production and automation is replacing humans. It invites us to challenge the idea that automation is necessarily a bad deal for humans and gives us the possibility of thinking how it can release us from drudgery and dangerous occupations to open up many other possibilities. An opportunity to define roles which have real value and worth to our local communities, with the added advantage of ensuring social inclusion and improved human interaction – from beautifying our parks and public spaces, human services and social care, people using their creativity, skills and talents in our communities to bring worthwhile contributions to their better functioning. Indeed, it invites us to examine the current boundaries of productive labour and think in terms of human enrichment.

As Pavlina Tcherneva, a leading MMT economist and expert on the job guarantee notes there are millions of people who wish to work even at the best of economic times when conventional theory says we are at full employment. An employment guarantee could play a valuable role in helping to address the serious and harmful gaps in public provision to serve the public good. She refers to it as a ‘National Care Act’ which could focus on the creation of well-being not just for individual citizens but for our communities and the nation as a whole.

Such proposals are not pie in the sky; they are serious observations about the catastrophe that economic and political orthodoxy, monetarist thought and austerity has proved itself to be and the need for a revolution in thought and action. Left-wing progressives may have their hearts in the right place in their support for the UBI, but they need to think bigger beyond mitigating for a rotten system which has failed all but the very rich and has brought grinding poverty, rising inequality and environmental degradation. It needs to show a willingness to think out of the neoliberal box and challenge those in whose interests it is to promote such schemes.

As a final thought, why not think about an employment guarantee combined with a basic, living wage income for those unable to work for whatever reason along with access to universal basic services such as education and health and social care free at the point of delivery? And that should be just the start for creating a better, kinder and more sustainable world to ensure the common good and the future survival of our species. The challenges we face are not insurmountable we just need those with the real political will to act for change.

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