Monday, May 21, 2018

Are "Progressives" Thinking This "Guaranteed Job" Proposal Through?

Maybe, maybe not.

[I]f you came in here in a wheelchair and blind in both eyes and were silly enough to insist on enrolling, they would find you something silly to match. Counting the fuzz on a caterpillar by touch, maybe.

That's the doctor giving Johnny Rico his physical exam in Starship Troopers. He's explaining that (in Heinlein's universe), anyone can join the Federal Service, regardless of physical/mental ability, skill set, etc.

Bernie Sanders envisions something like this. If you want a job, the government will give you one, period.

Apart from the general evil of this idea (there's no way for the government to give someone a paying job without stealing the money to pay for that person's salary and benefits), it seems to me that some consequences naturally follow.

Consequence #1: There goes the "progressive" argument against "work requirements" for welfare enrollees, "unemployment insurance," etc. "I can't find a job" will no longer be an excuse because anyone can have a job for the asking. In fact, since these magical government jobs will presumably pay a "living wage," the rationale for food stamps, housing subsidies, etc. will disappear as well. I'm just guessing here, but my guess is that the aggregate Democratic constituency for all of those programs is much larger than the likely Democratic constituency for pie in the sky full employment ideas.

Consequence #2: At some point, the pool of government "employees" in make-work "jobs" from which they can't be fired gets large enough that the actual productive economy starts slowing down. Why take a private sector job where you have to perform or get sent home when you can just take a paycheck from Uncle Sugar for e.g. sharpening pencils and can't get fired even if your output is eight sharpened pencils in eight hours?

Consequence #3: At which point Sanders (if he's still alive) or one of his successors starts preaching that in order to "save the economy" from the consequences of the jobs guarantee program, the government needs to just take over that actual productive economy and start slotting the program's job applicants into those  jobs. In other words, escalating state socialism, state seizure of the means of production.

Consequence #4: When it turns out that the government jobs program applicants don't want those kinds of jobs, and that the current workers in those industries don't want to work for the government and/or for whatever the government has decided is a "living wage," universal labor conscription. In other words, an attempt at full state socialism, aka Lenin/Stalin/Mao style state communism.

Okay, so maybe they have thought it through.

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