Home | About | Donate

Yes, a Jobs Guarantee Could Create “Boondoggles.” It also Might Save the Planet


Yes, a Jobs Guarantee Could Create “Boondoggles.” It also Might Save the Planet

Kate Aronoff

In recent weeks, talk of a federal job guarantee has swept into the national political debate. Possible 2020 presidential hopefuls Sens. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have both expressed their support for the idea, and Booker recently introduced legislation to create a job guarantee pilot program. And after Sen.


Good discussion to which I believe mention of the forces of privatization needs to be included, as it abhors such lofty goals (and results in the ultimate boondoggles, by the way). The commons must be kept intact and their stewardship should be shared by each to one’s ability to pay–with money and/or labor. It is past time to end this epoch of neofeudalism that is destroying humanity and most of life on earth. The iconic picture of the blue planet taken from the moon has faded from the headlines. It needs to be brought back into the lens of humanity’s constraints, and yes capitalists, there are constraints–if not for you then for your progeny. Wake the fuck up from your dreams of opulence and enter the world of reality and its imminent need of morality. “…in the end, you cannot eat money.”


I would rather see a diversion of massive defense spending to domestic and infrastructure employment opportunities. Those mustered out the military would have the opportunity to be employed in a constructive, rather than destructive, enterprises (aka, military).
Additional questions I would ask:
Would it be better to guarantee that myriads of such jobs would be created and available for those willing and able to do them–but not guaranteed?
Would it be correct to assume that today’s unemployed / unemployable possess the same energies and drive to work as did the unemployed and/or unemployable of the FDR era?
Could a guaranteed job be lost, or would an individual continue to hold that job despite willingness/ability to perform it?
Who and how many would it take to monitor and guarantee that this is a productive national enterprise vs the proverbial herding of cats?
Would a guaranteed jobs program give a green light to even more outsourcing of US jobs?
Would a guaranteed jobs program release corporations from the obligation to pay decent wages to those who are employed by them-- i.e. rapidly increase national unemployment?


Yes. The US military and its endless wars are the biggest boondoggle on Planet Earth.

I’m aware of no such obligation outside of unionized workplaces. Can you elaborate?


(emphasis mine)
The New Deal Programs cited above were largely responsible in preventing the Depression-era United States from sliding into Fascism. The legacy of these programs is still with us today, in ways large and small that most people do not even know about or think about.

There is so much that needs to be done, that the “market” will never do.


In addition to socially meaningful work, we have to change the operative preposition for work - from working “for”, to working “with” - if we’re serious about “the dignity of work”.


In case folks are wondering where the money for such a jobs program would come from: If we cut our military spending in half, our spending would still be more than that of the next two spenders, China and Russia.


I’ll try. AUMF (authorization of use of military force) has had one seriously (for me) important effect: it has freed the congress from taking a stand on each war, going on the record. With AUMF they can continue to punt, and to be continually silent about the wars because they are all legal and authorized (by AUMF). I believe that congress’ abdication of its responsibilities one of the most serious catastrophes this nation has ever faced. Similarly, guaranteed income might have the same effect. My reasoning: no longer will congress be required to make hard decisions about outsourcing, about corporate rapaciousness, about equity, about living wages. The congress and executive need to make some hard decisions about where this economy is going, what it is devoted to, and exactly how to re-tool if we ever did declare an end to the wars. In this regard, congress might no longer be interested in equity, decent pay issues, job preservation initiatives, and may silently acquiesce to the creation of a permanent dependent class–let’s say those driven from a place like Amazon because of dramatically increased use of robots throughout its system. Regardless, guaranteed income could create a climate where important philosophical/economic issues fail to be addressed–because after all, everyone will have a job, no matter what we do. Recently read an article on why several of the most wealthy of our oligarchs support guaranteed income as a policy. We have to ask, why, and what would be in it for them? We need to carefully examine any policy that our most wealthy favor.


Deep deep down they think they can take it with them.


A good topic to theorize. But reality makes anything remotely resembling a jobs guarantee an utter impossibility. You will need to defeat the fascists first before you can even begin to even think about anything like this. Your not going to do it through voting either.


I see no evidence that Congress has made any such hard decisions since the end of WW2. A really hard decision for Congress would be choosing to do the will of their constituents, rather than the bidding of the donor class.

As to “the most wealthy of our oligarchs,” a few of them, perhaps being aware of the breadth and depth of public anger, might undertand that it’s generally better to throw water on a fire than gasoline.


Exactly. There will always be enough work for everybody in this life. Unless that work is structured to provide quality jobs that yield decent living standards, it is slavery (whether wage slavery or actual slavery). Capitalism is incapable of providing those requirements. It is designed by philosophy, practice and power to upstream the vast majority of material benefits to the few while the rest live in impoverishment and slavery.

It cannot be reformed. It can only be removed by organizing uprisings that lead to non-violent democratic revolutions around the biosphere. It is that clear and that complex and difficult. It requires a leap of faith on behalf of humankind. And the courage to take that great leap into the unknown.


It’s possible that the New Deal Programs actually prevented a co-ordinated socialist/communist/left/progressive revolution here, though it is much more likely that WW2 (which was billed as a war against fascism) was a bigger factor. It certainly splintered the left and made post-WW2 red-baiting more effective.


i think you are right. WW2 ended with all major economies in ruin except for the usa. that forced the capitalist class to give better deals to american workers since they were the only workers left in production.

WW2 also gave rise to the USSR as our major adversary and sucked more life out of the left in America. It’s been a long long time since even speaking using the word socialist was acceptable at all in american political discourse. Dr. Richard Wolff mentions this fact all the time.


It would be nice, but as my late dad said in so many words many years ago " Nothing is guaranteed except death and taxes!"


I am a big fan of R. Wolff.


Politics unfortunately is usually all about money.


I get the feeling that a good percentage of people on this site are doing just fine thank you, and are having intellectual discussions in the comfort of their plush apartments- no clue what the “working class” does.


That’s a really good idea however it has to be done right or a no one will go for it because of this issue:

  • A 250 billion dollar cut in defense spending would put a large number of defense contractor (work welfare for middle class) personnel out on the streets.

Such a cut must be accompanied by a law reducing mandatory full time work hours to 25 per week. At the same wage they are being paid to day on an annual basis!

Subsequent to this law, companies will have to hire all the highly technical, highly qualified people who get furloughed, to fill the other jobs that have been created by reducing people’s workloads from 50 to 60 hours right now down to 25. And if you want to work overtime no more than 5 hours a week should be permitted. By law, overtime work should always be at double time and a 1/2 unless it’s a holiday at which times, 10 times the normal hourly equivalent rate should be compulsory!

Gosh people having to be home with their families. Would that start a new Civil War?
Alternatively imagine what we could do as a society!