Posted by Curt on 24 April, 2018 at 10:17 am. 2 comments already!


Hey, there, displaced factory worker! Looking for work? Bernie Sanders has a job for you. How would you like to make $15 an hour cleaning up park trails for your municipal government? What, you say that sounds like something an employee of the city’s parks department already does, or is supposed to do? What about repainting school playgrounds? Oh, the unionized school district employees gave you a stern look? Um. Hang on, he’ll get back to you.

Sanders has announced a new plan to make sure everybody who is unemployed gets a job. His plan is just to invent a bunch of new government jobs and pay $15 an hour with benefits! Ta-Da! Problem solved.

No, really. That’s kind of the plan. According to The Washington Post, which reported the proposal yesterday, Sanders’ office doesn’t have a cost estimate or any idea how it will be funded yet. Post policy writer Jeff Stein turned to a study by a pack of “left-leaning economists” for the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, who seem to think only good thingswill happen with the creation of millions of government-funded jobs, and hardly any bad things. Klein notes:

Job guarantee advocates say their plan would drive up wages by significantly increasing competition for workers, ensuring that corporations have to offer more generous salaries and benefits if they want to keep their employees from working for the government.

Of course, they might have to lay off some employees in order to pay for these increased wages and benefits. Or they could increase the speed by which they’re automating to get rid of jobs to save money. But that’s okay! There’s going to be all these government jobs to replace them! Paid for with tax revenue from…from…wait. If everybody goes to work for the government, where will the revenue come from? I’m sure they’ll figure out something.

So what sort of government work is there that would provide $15 an hour plus benefits to millions of unemployed Americans? The Levy Economics Institute study provides several examples of how these guaranteed jobs might play out at the local level. Here’s one:

A local artist collective employs painters, actors, musicians, and stage hands to run year-round productions for the community. They organize school outreach programs, run summer camps, and offer free art, music, and literacy classes for disadvantaged/special needs youths. They collaborate with local schools in offering art enrichment programs.

You might think to yourself, “These seem like the kinds of jobs that certain people with certain types of interests have been begging for the government to fund for years.” Indeed, much of the examples in the Levy study seem like descriptions of programs that certain types of local government-connected people with very particular ideas would like to see the government doing. Their plan leans heavily on the assumption that all these unemployed or underemployed people would happily do the grunt work that aligns with left-leaning environmental and public policy project goals. The report openly uses the Works Progress Administration of the New Deal as a model to support it.

Perhaps you’re wondering, “Is there even any widespread demand for these kinds of jobs that aren’t already being filled?” That may sound like some sort of reference to marketplace capitalism! But that’s not the point! The point is jobs. The study declares:

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