The FJG is not just “better” than UBI, it’s the only reasonable option. The UBI is sinister.

ABOVE: From the tweet that inspired this article, by @PatriciaNPino.

Written by Jeff Epstein, Editor-in-Chief of Citizens’ Media TV. This article was inspired by the tweet at the bottom of this article, and the discussion in this Facebook thread, and in particular, the comments of Steve Grumbine.

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This article has been republished on Naked Capitalism. Here is a 15 minute interview about this article with the author on New Hampshire Public radio.

FJG > UBI

No. That’s not right. The Federal Job Guarantee is not just better than Universal Basic Income, it’s the only good option. The UBI is a Trojan Horse for the reduction and elimination of wages and safety net programs for the powerless. UBI is sinister.

Universal Basic Income: 👎😿☠️💩🤢🙄😡🤦‍♀️😵🤬

UBI adds money to the economy without increasing production or output. This is how you cause inflation: The creation of money without consideration of the real resources available to you. (Sure, everyone can have a pony, but not tomorrow!)

If the government is now paying your salary, even if you are performing poorly, even if you are not working:

  • This incentivizes private industry to further reduce wages, which logically extends to the reduction – or elimination – of minimum wage laws.
  • Then what’s the point of social safety net programs such as welfare, food stamps, subsidized housing, Medicaid, Social Security, etc.? These programs would necessarily be eliminated.
  • Then what’s the point of fighting so hard for free healthcare and free tuition and lower prescription drug costs and so on? Now people can, at least somewhat, at least temporarily, afford the private industry alternatives. The fights for these progressive programs would just…end.
  • Now, all of the sudden, everyone can afford shit. All at the same time. Competing with everyone for the same stuff, with no increase in productive capacity. UBI is therefore, by its very definition, inflationary. This governmental salary, this “negative tax” for those at the bottom, is instantly devalued. At best, income and wealth inequality is not reduced.
  • Would this increase or decrease the incentive to get or keep a job? At least at first…

Here’s the true sinister plot behind UBI: Picture a future and less-friendly Congress, after all these safety nets have been reduced or eliminated. They come in and eliminate or dramatically reduce the UBI program because “these deadbeats want everything for free?!” Our nation is instantly plunged into a private corporation slave-wage hellscape. No wage or workplace protections, no safety net programs at all.

UBI risks putting the United States into a much much worse position than it already is today…. Well, that is, if you care about the powerless.

The Federal Job Guarantee: 👌👊✊🤜🤛💪👍😎🤩😍

FJG adds money to the economy by increasing productivity and output. This is how you avoid, or greatly reduce the severity of, inflation. It forces private industry and the military to up their game, in order to be competitive with the FJG: better than bare-minimum living wage, benefits, and working conditions. It takes away the excuse of “I’m not hiring you… You’ve been unemployed. Ewww.”

If a future, less-friendly Congress were to come in and eliminate or reduce the FJG program, then those FJG job people would indeed once again be unemployed. But everyone else would still have those better jobs with better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Yes, without the “public option” FJG to compete with private industry, these things will start to degrade. But we would revert back to a position still substantially better than we are today.

Two final points: busywork and robots

If the FJG creates “busywork” pointless jobs, it is not a problem of the FJG itself, but rather a reflection of poor implementation of the FJG at the local level. There are basically an infinite number of genuinely useful things to be done at the local level, throughout the country.

The fear of automation is nonsense. We should embrace automation. Robots can cook our cheeseburgers, wash our cars, and accept and dispense cash better and faster than humans. But robots cannot take care of our children or seniors, they cannot entertain us, create works of art, write our books, or be our primary care physicians or psychologists. Leave the more physically taxing and repetitive drudgery work to the robots. Leave the infinite number of more satisfying and productive jobs for us humans.

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5 comments

  1. So – does the FJG ensure everyone can get the job that suits THEM best? For instance, say a person’s absolute best talent is being a ballerina (not me). The FJG will *ensure* that there’s a ballerina training job that will be paid for regularly? Vs. UBI – which, as long as it’s sufficient and indexed to cost of living – would allow workers to ‘opt out’ of the labor market and focus on maximizing their top skill set.

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    1. The FJG is locally administered, to whatever the community needs. It doesn’t pretend to be “whatever job you want” or “whatever your passions drive you to.” If ballet or dance is needed or wanted by the community, then sure, why not?

      There’s nothing stopping anyone from opting out of the labor market at any time. The FJG vs UBI just fundamentally disagrees if that opting out should be a paying gig. Why could the FJG not consider training? Local communities should get creative. That’s the point.

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  2. Yup. The New Deal programs that the JG is modeled on did offer jobs like “ballerina” back then – See Federal Theater Project. Search for ballet. The problem is that we moderns who think we are so smart are much more brainwashed by malign capitalism than people were back then.

    Janet Goodman-ClarkeVs. UBI – which, as long as it’s sufficient and indexed to cost of living – would allow workers to ‘opt out’ of the labor market and focus on maximizing their top skill set.

    NO, the UBI won’t do that, because it can’t do that, because the UBI can not work. Never has, never will. The UBI is insane wishful thinking, for logically impossible wishes that would be a curse if granted, nothing more.

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  3. It’s not an either / or proposition – UBI for the free market / FJG for the Commons. Both are needed.

    UBI is bottom up, Trickle Up, power to the people, equal playing field option. If I knew $$ was created via proportion to the population of the people, per month – I wouldn’t be able to over-charge for products etc. Good products/ideas will be rewarded via the people directly.

    The way I’d argue for FJG, is akin to the PostOffice (public options create base standard and competition), pays for itself or is useful eg cleaning up the environment, Solar 4 All, building Earth & Space infrastructure, invest in science. The commons (utilities), fund & support things like Habitat for Humanity & homesteading.

    Another thing UBasicI (and FJG) would do is create a workers market. People will be working more part time – unless they want to work more. Nothing is preventing people from working on things they Enjoy except money to invest. Here’s what is awful : 85% of people hate their jobs

    UBI is about empowering people w/ equal opportunity and choice – when people go out into the world (typically 18) we all should be in a game w/ fair opportunity & rules (as fair as possible). People will vote w/ their dollars what to support.

    *We already have UBI for the rich (so it can work) however, this reverses trickle down -> to trickle up.

    https://preview.tinyurl.com/ybpcn2jn

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