Federal Jobs Guarantee: Sounds great, but here’s what we think. | Opinion

The Federal Jobs Guarantee is the flagship policy of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Put simply, it means that the federal government will guarantee a job to any American that is willing to put in a good day of hard work. And in exchange, they’ll earn a decent living. On the surface that sounds great, but is it? Here are some challenges that could arise.

How does the government figure out what jobs to create, and who does what? A FJG program seems to consolidate the job creation market to be decided by the government — that sounds terrible. Technology is the new labor force — there is no changing this. Anybody that knows anything about the new economy will tell you ‘data is oil’ and ‘content is king’ [We’ll post an explanation of this here]. 

For the U.S. to succeed it will need to embrace an understanding of the natural progressions of more efficient labor forces (Americans -> Chinese -> Robots) and incorporate this into their policy decisions and ‘job’ planning. Thanks to advances in technology there are fewer and fewer ‘jobs’ for humans. For businesses and GDP, this is great — cost of labor is approaching zero; injury liability is going to 0; retirement plans are going to 0; benefits are going to 0; profits (revenue – expenses) are going to go through the roof. 

Of course, this also means that the cost to consumer will likely drop dramatically as well. But, still, what about the jobs?

Just making up useless jobs for people to do in exchange for the ability to eat and live seems more like an act of enslavement than one of liberation — and how does it make any sense when the job can be done more efficiently by technology? The FJG doesn’t seem to do anything to drive innovation, creativity, or risk taking — elements that are essential for economic expansion.

What about the logistics of this monstrosity? Imagine the amount of research and bureaucracy that must take place to figure out job training and job placement. How much investment will that take? What about when someone starts working a job and decides they don’t like it, can they just quit and go get training for something else? Who pays for that?

There is a role for federal government involvement in job guarantees, and that’s in the segments of society that are staples to its maintenance — safety, healthcare, education, emergency services, infrastructure, and transportation services. But, it does not create an environment that spurs risk taking, innovation, and private enterprise — the staples of economic growth and societal advancement. 

In summary, the Federal Jobs Guarantee is a good idea, but should only be implemented to fulfill the projected burdens of healthcare, safety/emergency services, and infrastructural/transportation development and services. It should be used as a government-sponsored opportunity as an option to supplement a Universal Basic Income-based system. This would allow for innovators and entrepreneurs to survive while embracing and utilizing their passions to drive capitalistic advancement and private enterprise while budgeting human capital to fulfill vocational needs.  

Note: It is the position of this editorial that basic society needs (i.e., healthcare, infrastructure, safety, transportation, well-being) should not be governed by for-profit entities.  And capital markets should not be determined by government.

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