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Job guarantee would help millions

Do you get tired of all the suffering and dying we cause each other? I sure do. What do we do about it? Here’s what I do: read and learn. I read and learn how we can solve problems, not just talk, rant and rave on social media and share unfounded opinions with others.

Most societies think everything is about money, so over the past couple of years I learned I needed knowledge, the facts and framework about how the economy works to be genuinely effective in my actions.

Everyone asks: “How are you going to pay for it?” Let’s see.

We have to first understand where money comes from. The federal government is the issuer of U.S. currency. They are a monopoly. The government creates money and spending. We’ve recently seen spending happen without raising taxes, without borrowing from anyone. Congress said “spend” and the checks went out. People saw money in their bank account.

It wasn’t magic. Congress appropriated the spending, just like it does for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense, congressional trips, etc. You name it. Congress authorizes the spending. An employee uses a computer to make the transactions happen. If anyone wants to say it doesn’t work this way, please let me know.

Today we have millions unemployed. The federal government, through Congress and other various acts and laws currently in place, could appropriate spending for a federal job guarantee to give millions who want a job benefiting them and the community in which they live. Providing people with a job paying a decent wage, providing benefits and adding value to a community would solve many social ills in our country. If you don’t agree with this, you’ve got to explain why so many people say the unemployed should get a job and stop being lazy.

Regarding a job guarantee, I look to Pavlina Tcherneva, associate professor of economics at Bard College and a research scholar at the Levy Economics Institute in New York, who has spent years researching, writing and teaching about a federal job guarantee. Here’s a link to one of her papers: http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_902.pdf.

For further reading, you can get her book, “The Case for a Job Guarantee” at http://pavlina-tcherneva.net/the-case-for-a-job-guarantee.

If you think a job guarantee will cost too much, here is what Tcherneva has to say: “The base appropriation budget will initially be estimated to fund a sizable program. To employ 11-16 million people at $15 per hour plus benefits equal to 20 percent of wages (allowing for material costs set at 25 percent of labor costs), the direct program expenditures would be about 1.3 percent to 2.4 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) … This is less than what the U.S. government spends annually on elementary and secondary education.”

Perhaps the government isn’t spending money correctly and changes need to be made.

Look at the costs of unemployment Tcherneva points out: “Finally, it is important to note that the real costs of unemployment (in terms of wasted human and physical resources, forgone output, poverty and other social ills) are the real burden on our communities and future generations — a burden that we already carry. We are already ‘paying’ for unemployment. In financial and real terms, the costs of unemployment today outweigh the financial and real costs of running a JG (job guarantee).”

Here is what I see. Money is not the issue. The federal government can spend whatever it wants to spend on whatever it wants to spend it on. As long as there are people who want to work, there will be the resource of human labor available. The private sector will never hire all those who want jobs because business exists to make a profit. Labor costs money. Only the federal government can spend until the labor resource is not available.

A job guarantee would not expand the federal government since it would be locally administered through cities, counties, local nonprofits where the framework exists. These jobs, such as child and elder care, special instruction, environmental jobs, providing human services, and many more would benefit communities.

Is the job guarantee a silver bullet? No, but it’s superior to allowing millions to remain unemployed and suffering. This is a choice we can demand from Congress.

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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