Quote of the Day:
Democrats have yet to tell us how they plan to fund this massive workforce idea that doesn't generate any profit. I have a strong suspicion it will have something to do with the nefariously wealthy not paying their fair share. I'm not sure, however, that even the Koch brothers could afford to bankroll this idea.
–David Harsanyi on Senator Bernie Sanders advocacy of guaranteed jobs for everybody in Reason
When I read about Senator Bernie Sanders's advocacy of a guaranteed job for everybody, all sorts of questions surfaced: what if somebody is lazy or uncooperative, for example, would he or she have a guaranteed job?
Silly me. I soon realized how naive I was: Senator Sanders is advocating a government job for everybody.
David Harsanyi describes in Reason the sorts of jobs Senator Sanders envisions:
Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to announce a plan that guarantees every American "who wants or needs one" a lifetime government job paying at least $15 an hour, with health insurance and other perks.
This new progressive workforce will then, according to The Washington Post, build glorious "projects throughout the United States aimed at addressing priorities such as infrastructure, care giving, the environment, education and other goals."
. . .
One imagines that a quixotic proposal like this polls quite well. I mean, who doesn't want everyone to have a job? You don't possess a skill set that enables you to find productive work? You don't want to learn a new trade? You don't want to obtain a better education? You have no interest in moving to an area where your work might be in demand?
You don't want to start your career with a lower wage even if the long-term prospects of doing so might be worthwhile? Don't worry. The government's got an incentive-destroying job opportunity just for you.
And if you've been fired for a poor work ethic, or for stealing, or for making women uncomfortable with your creepy behavior, fear not; Bernie's got your back. In the rare event that state workers do misbehave, they would be summoned to a Division of Progress Investigation (a relic of our 1930s stab at socialism) to "take disciplinary action if needed." If the DPI were to run anything like major public schools systems do, you can imagine it would be a study in meritocracy.
Supporters of Sanders' plan claim that the system would drive up wages in the private sector because companies would have to compete with government to hire people. Corporations, however, must make a profit. Unlike government, as Harsanyi notes, they don't print money. Thus they would likely turn to hiring fewer Americans. Entry level jobs at companies might be priced out of the equation.
Harsanyi suggests that these federal laborers might be used to shore up ideological projects. Why not have government workers build solar panels? (If Trump is re-elected, Senator Sanders, do you want them to help build the wall?)
Unfortunately, Senator Sanders isn't the only prominent Democrat attracted to the idea. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker and have warmed to the idea.
Harsanyi suggests that, for the time being, Democrats will be happy to have universal guaranteed jobs as campaign issue. But not forever.
A guaranteed job may be an unworkable system. But so was ObamaCare.
People who believe in more government simply believe in more government, regardless of real world consequences.