The Clowns

The job guarantee could end up being a key issue in some Democratic primaries this year. Kerri Evelyn Harris, a Democratic candidate running against incumbent Tom Carper for Senate in Delaware, said, “It is time to offer American citizens guaranteed, quality jobs, with growth potential in the government sector.”

Gillibrand, whom some people see as a good presidential candidate, is behind this silliness.

I’m from the Soviet Union, a place which actually did give guaranteed jobs to everybody, and I know how that story begins, develops, and ends. So if Democrats run somebody like Gillibrand against Trump, I won’t have a reason to vote. Choosing between two deeply ignorant candidates who offer magic options in lieu of solutions to serious issues is no choice at all.

I’m not linking to the source because it belongs to Russians, and I’m against supporting their propaganda machine.

28 thoughts on “The Clowns”

  1. It depends upon the program, though. During the Depression, there was the Works Projects Administration, which hired the unemployed to do cool things. A lot of the beautiful parks and public buildings you see today, and some of our best roads, were built by these people, with Federal funding. And there was the Federal Writers’ Project, and so on. However: will Americans do jobs? What would it take to get an American to do the work now done by people on H2B visas, or no visa? Would they have to have a living wage? Are we interested in that?


    1. I’m all for a program where the government invests in, say, a large infrastructure program and hires a lot of workers to carry it out. When Trump promised that (and then obviously shelved the idea the second he was elected), it was extremely successful with voters. I’m totally in favor of such a plan. But when you start talking about “guaranteed jobs”, that’s a completely different idea. And I find it to be bizarre and unrealistic.

      As for Maryland, I lived in Baltimore. There is an enormous problem with unemployment and marginalization in the African American community. I find it hard to believe that black Baltimoreans would refuse jobs that pay $2,000 a month if those jobs are really that abundant. It makes no sense that a 50 million industry is so lacking in labor in a state where there is an entire large community that is displaced from employment and lives in truly horrid conditions. There are also the economically devastated communities of the Appalachia that I also have seen. Wouldn’t the folks there prefer to make a trip to Maryland for these good paying jobs instead of making trips to Florida to buy Oxy?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am assuming that in the MD case, the owners want the docility of foreigners. It also may be a question of skills. These seafood and agricultural jobs are supposed to be unskilled or low skill but there’s a trick to doing that work at a decent pace, for hours, without damaging the product. I am also told it is a question of reliability — the foreigners show up more regularly.



        1. So how will jobs be guaranteed to unreliable and useless Americans? Does the word “guaranteed” mean they won’t be fired even if they fail to show up?

          I read Vance’s book on Appalachia. He definitely believes that the workers won’t show up even for good jobs.


            1. Because the culture is so broken that people can’t make themselves show up on time and do anything without taking long bathroom breaks every 10 minutes.


              1. I haven’t read it so I shouldn’t comment on it too much, but I’ve read a decent bit from people who actually live in the region how JD Vance (who’s a silicon valley VC dipshit, btw) is making shit up.


      1. From the article:

        “The potential is great for helping revive depressed communities. West Virginia could clean up its streams and roadsides while building better housing. Flint, Mich., could construct new water systems and provide stability for private business to support a newly robust community. New York could construct low-cost housing to solve its homelessness crisis.

        What must exist in any job-guarantee program is an enforcement mechanism. The initial version of Humphrey-Hawkins allowing workers to sue for a job reminds us of the need for a strong enforcement mechanism. Without a legal requirement to provide work, lawmakers will find political excuses to not implement the program, and it will not serve as a useful solution to automation, poverty and social instability.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s definitely less horrible than UBI, that’s for sure.

        But we are on the one hand hearing that the whole crab-picking industry is collapsing because no Americans want a guaranteed $2,000 blue-collar job. And on the other hand, let’s create guaranteed blue-collar jobs. So which one is true?


        1. Well, $2000 is just one factor. From what I understand, the working conditions in the food industry (meatpacking, etc.) are soul-crushingly hellish. And this is where the private vs public employers really differentiate themselves.


          1. Also, it’s piecework. $2000 is the most you can make and few make that. It’s like actually picking a bale of cotton in a day, or something, which only the strongest and fastest can do. And you risk losing fingers.


        2. Click to access pickedapart-1.pdf

          The women interviewed universally reported experiencing cuts on their hands and arms while picking crabs with sharp knives. In some instances, the cuts allow a dangerous seaborne bacterium, vibrio vulnificus, to infect the skin, causing blistering or lesions.10 A surprising number of women reported either having suffered from or witnessing a co-worker suffer from the disease, which has a 50 percent mortality rate once it enters the bloodstream.11

          The women have a legitimate fear of employer retaliation. One woman recounted how she was not rehired after she spoke with her employer regarding how her taxes were handled.13


          1. Two of my aunts work in this industry in Nova Scotia, so I’m very well-aware that it’s not easy. But that’s reason to improve the working conditions and not to rant against immigration restrictions that allow to exploit foreign workers who have no rights.


            1. But wouldn’t that be beside the point? That would raise the price of the product, and set a precedent for worker rights. We want inexpensive crab, high profits for the owners, and an underclass — right? Slavery made money.


              1. And look how the linked article never addresses the need to improve working conditions. The whole thrust of the piece that the problem is immigration restrictions. Nobody is trying to discuss why there are no local workers for these jobs.

                Liked by 1 person

              2. They don’t even raise the question. But I already know the answer: because for what they are paying, you can’t get a competent American. Immigration knows this, of course. It is why, when as a professor, you apply for a green card, you have to show that you are being paid a standard salary. To show that you are truly needed for YOUR expertise, and not just being hired because you are cheaper than someone else. (I have actually had a couple of colleagues questioned about this when they applied for green cards, because we are not in fact paid the going rate, we’re below SREB averages and so on … they had to show their salaries were average for their departments)


            2. I didn’t post the report for its policy recommendations. I wanted to show that brutal working conditions could be a big reason why americans aren’t taking these $2000 jobs. So, your statement that “the whole crab-picking industry is collapsing because no Americans want a guaranteed $2,000 blue-collar job” is missing a whole lot.


  2. “I’m from the Soviet Union, a place which actually did give guaranteed jobs to everybody, and I know how that story begins, develops, and ends.”

    Don’t you think the american implementation of the policy would be superior to its soviet counterpart? ‘Jobs guarantee’ is vague and at this point just a slogan, not a legal document. Everything depends on how the laws are written and implemented.

    ‘It failed in country X so it’ll also fail in country Y’ is not a fair argument precisely because ‘it worked in country X so it’ll work in country Y’ argument is routinely mocked for ignoring the unique characteristics of X & Y that allow certain policies to succeed or fail.


    1. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the argument that the Soviet experience doesn’t matter because the circumstances are different. In academic circles, the word USSR evokes this response the moment it’s uttered in any context whatsoever.

      I’ve accepted that nobody wants to know about our experience because it’s inconvenient. But I know about it and I’m not repudiating that knowledge because it inconveniences people.


      1. If I suggest an NHS-style healthcare system in the US like they have in Great Britain, literally the first argument that props up is that the countries are different and what works there won’t work here.

        I just used a similar form of the argument here.


      2. The WPA and the whole New Deal, I believe, were consciously formulated as an alternative to the Soviet setup, were meant to create jobs and public projects but also save liberal democracy, capitalism, and so on. They were quite good at it, too, although of course if resurrected would have to be structured in such a way as to focus on people other than white men more, I am told. My history professor as an undergraduate, Leon Litwack, said the programs were created (in part) in hopes of preventing revolution, which could be to the right, not necessarily to the left.


      3. “how many times I have heard the argument that the Soviet experience doesn’t matter”

        My latest listening craze are vlogs/podcasts unreconstructed and unapologetic Marxists, often pretty young and prone to saying dumb things like ‘there is no such thing as Human Nature’ and who are aggressively unconcerned with Soviet (or even Cuban, Venezuelan or North Korean) experience because they. know. better.


    1. Both UBI and guaranteed jobs are equally bad ideas. We could discuss which one is a little bit less horrible or we could look at what’s wrong with an economic system that creates so many “superfluous” people who can’t find a place in productive life. Right now the discussion is, how do we keep those losers out of sight so they don’t mar our enjoyment of fluidity.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.