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Federal job guarantee gives workers choice

Ever hear the phrase: “I’m a lover not a fighter”? Or maybe you heard it the other way around. No matter. I like to think of myself as a lover but ready to fight for what I love and believe. What about you?

I love being in front of the computer every day. I talk to people around the world and share thoughts and ideas, send links to videos and articles, and make some friends and influence some people. It is the first time in my life I’ve been able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. Since the age of 10, I’ve been on someone else’s time, and the freedom I get today is priceless.

Wouldn’t it be excellent if everyone could do what they love to do, get paid for it and profit not only for themselves and their family but the community at large? That is what a job should be all about — doing what you enjoy, getting paid a true living wage with benefits and enriching the community. Know what? It is possible if we have the political will to speak up and demand it. Getting to a point where a critical mass does that yelling and demanding is tough to pull off.

Let’s talk about a job guarantee first. A federal job guarantee can be paid for by the federal government. Jobs would be available for everyone who wants one. This is not mandatory. No one will be forced to work. The work will be done in the community where a person lives and would be administered by local nonprofits or even local unemployment offices. Wouldn’t it be great to pay people to work? Folks get some money when they are unemployed, so why in the world would anyone be against paying a person to do a job?

The federal job guarantee can be paid for just like any other expense or program Congress chooses to pay for. This is not any different than spending on defense, Social Security, Medicare, children’s health insurance program, veterans’ benefits, infrastructure and all the other items Congress chooses to support.

Paying people to work is not a new concept for the federal government. It happened during the Roosevelt era with a variety of programs within the Works Progress Administration that put artists, writers, musicians to work and employed millions who built hospitals, bridges, schools, airfields, planted trees and paved or repaired “280,000 miles of roads.”

That’s not to say the jobs in a federal job guarantee will be exactly like those in the WPA, nor will jobs in every community be the same. People in the communities can work with existing organizations and/or nonprofits to determine community needs and create or enhance jobs accordingly.

There are scores of jobs private industry won’t touch because they don’t make money. You think a private, for-profit company is going to pay folks in my town to have a community garden to give produce to residents? You think a private, for-profit company will employ artists and writers and musicians from the community to have a center for folks of all ages, a center that pays the employees well and doesn’t charge a fee to the residents using the services? Get the picture?

A federal job guarantee gives people a choice. It provides them with dignity. It also sets a wage that private employers would have to meet or beat. Why would someone work a back-breaking job for $7.25 an hour when they could teach a subject or craft they’ve mastered at a community center for $20 an hour plus benefits? What happens to the back-breaking jobs? They either meet or beat the federal job guarantee wage or go out of business. That’s business.

Or the job gets automated, which is not all bad, but it leaves people unemployed. The federal government is the only entity with the spending power to pick up the slack, but that doesn’t mean more government. It means local communities will have more control.

Here’s the ultimate source of information on the federal job guarantee: https://realprogressives.org/books/the-case-for-a-job-guarantee.

I love the concept of a federal job guarantee and am eager to share it, hoping it is instituted before it is too late.

The opinions expressed above belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of the Boulder City Review. They have been edited solely for grammar, spelling and style, and have not been checked for accuracy of the viewpoints.

Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She is the national outreach director for Real Progressives. She can be reached at roseannrab@hotmail.com or at 702-339-9082.

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