Universal Job Guarantee Program


and it would be cheaper, and more psychologically healthy to just allow people to choose to do these things with UBI.

at this point in history, it comes down really to the water room problem (http://www.scottsantens.com/the-water-room-analogy-why-giving-basic-income-to-even-the-richest-makes-sense). You can waste a ton of money setting up a JG, or you can just go straight to UBI.

And you can spend a lot of time pointing out how you can force reality to fit your ideology. To me (imnsho, natch) it is very clear that the “right to work” movement tends to hide, underneath this veneer of “people have a right to a job”, the rather limiting ideology of “people need a job to feel good about themselves, because if you don’t have a job, you are worthless”… and you are not even hiding that, you are saying that this is your ideology.

unpack that a bit. Why should you feel worthless if you don’t have a job? it’s society that’s told you that. it is not fundamental human nature.

for millennia we did what we needed to do to eat, and then we sat around, played games, looked at the stars, developed religion. even the hunting and gathering wasn’t considered work:

I would argue what we need, instead of a “Right to Work” policy is in fact, in light of automation, a far more relevant “Right to Play” policy.

And… I think that would definitely get the wider gaming community pretty firmly on board :slight_smile:


Eh, that’s “live performance” you are talking about really, not busking. Busking being by donation, or what is now called “crowdsourcing an income”. Online equivalents have been around for a while in various ways, but it’s essentially donation based income model. I busked for a living for almost a decade, so I know the model intimately.

However, displaying skill that is appreciated by humans needn’t be done in person, nor even by a human. I’m sure there will be AIs writing articles, music, or creating porn, that have their own Patreon accounts in the not distant future.

(Edwin Waters) #23

I don’t understand your logic. You would prefer that people did whatever they wanted via the UBI for $14k a year rather than them doing the same thing via the JG for about $40k a year? you would deny people the opportunity to earn an extra $26k a year, why? Also I am not sure why you are concerned with the federal government saving money due to the UBI being cheaper. The federal government can never run out of it’s own currency so expenditure by the government isn’t of concern because the federal government issues and prints the currency. It has the monopoly on the currency which is why taxes can only be paid in AUDs so that people don’t trade in cryptocurrency, which I have no idea why there would be a need for a dual currency.

Which jobs are on the cusp of being lost due to automation and why are these jobs needed by society? There are more important things in life than to make a profit.


It depends on the definition of profit. Efficient value creation - I would argue is the definition of important things in life, in fact the value of life - a self replicating process of creating value. The challenge is determining what is of value and whether the cost of it makes it worth while.

And now we can debate rational economics.

(Andrew Downing) #25

Scroll down to the appendix starting around page 57.
Has a pretty good summary of what jobs are under threat.
It’s a big list.


umm you do understand that UBI is an income floor, not a ceiling, right? and the market then decides how much more ppl get paid for what they choose to do? They could in theory be earning way more than 40k for something that is funded by UBI. (nb this is how most startups work, from the Bank of Mum & Dad / investors).

(Jesse Hermans) #27

Academic studies demonstrating people suffer from unemployment beyond income loss are not “my ideology”, they are empirically determined sociological evidence. I don’t tell people or create the sociological institutions which tell people to derive meaning and value from work. This is just how our society currently is, and until we shift those attitudes by broadening the concept of work this remains a problem. A Job Guarantee is a very effective institutional model for transitioning through this.
Just as changing gender stereotypes and norms doesn’t happen overnight and is still a slow and ongoing process, so to does changing this social attitude and dependence on work as a sociological institution. These cultural attitudes take time to shift - they’re not as malleable as clay.

Rather it strikes me you have an ideological bent which so anti-work you are determined to deny marginalised people (even in the interim) who want to work the opportunity to do so, even when this demonstrably empirically diminishes their quality of life. It was made abundantly clear in my Philosophy, Politics and Economics lectures this is a serious issue. Jobs are more important than welfare - psychic cost of depression, anxiety, loss of job satisfaction, stigma, as well as worse mental health and higher rates of suicide are empirical. Until we actually do something to start addressing these cultural attitudes, the problem isn’t just going to go away - even just by throwing money at it.


Heh. I’m very far from anti-work - I had a fellow busker in my very early days nickname me “Cappy” (ie capitalist) because I was such a dedicated hard worker out at all possible hours (though this lifestyle did have a certain flexibility that I enjoyed immensely). I’ve since mainly been a small business owner and worked incredibly hard at times, up to 80 hour weeks - though not always.

I would agree with your stance, truly - if we could time travel back about 30 years. As it stands now, automation doesn’t give a crap about your unemployment, and spending years developing a JG program would maybe deliver something juuuust in time for it become obsolete. The psychological effects would be better mitigated by simply getting ppl used to the idea that they don’t need to work to deserve to live sooner rather than later. I know you have been saying all along that you want to deliver UBI alongside JG, again, which is very noble, but I think will have been a waste of resources by the time any such program could actually be put in place. The market is already moving very fast, and is only going to speed up.

How do I know this? What is my evidence? 2 weeks ago had client tell me he had to leave a formerly secure job in a mine they’ve worked in for years, because the mine is about to go 100 percent automated within 12 months (this in WA) … and the new place they’ve moved to? … you can guarantee it will do the same thing in the next few years, or become uncompetitive. Client working in law… they are ok themselves (for now) but tell me there are a TINY fraction of the jobs for juniors and paralegals even NOW let alone in a few years time… because the grunt work is already being outsourced to AIs. Mainly in Ireland, I believe, so AU doesn’t even get tax $…

Same for accountants
Same for HR departments
Same for supermarkets

these are all examples from real conversations with real people that really aren’t needed in their jobs either now or WITHIN A FEW years from now, guaranteed. Probably a few I haven’t spoken to unemployed or underemployed who I won’t see in future that I don’t even know about… and I’m scared too, because if current clients become unemployed… they aren’t going to be able to afford my services either, and my income will also be reduced, and the economy shrinks further.

This is not going to be saved by a JG which will attempt to fit their existing skills into a hole that doesn’t exist because it’s been filled by automation. Better plan to offer free education, reskill and allow ppl to fill the demand the market creates with new real jobs in new industries that we can’t imagine yet. Smaller government, better outcomes overall. No one starves and all the negative impacts you exhaustively list start going down naturally because if a JG exists, there is going to be stigma that if you don’t take it up, you aren’t really trying /don’t really deserve to exist.

(Edwin Waters) #29

The pdf you provided the link to requires login details so I was unable to view the document. [https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk is requesting your username and password. The site says: “Please login”]

(Andrew Downing) #30

That’s weird. I just went to http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/publications/view/1314 and clicked download and it just loaded fine. I’m not giving it any password or anything like that.

(Edwin Waters) #31

Why would $14k via the JG be the income floor? how is that an acceptable minimum income? Why wouldn’t that income floor be set at $40k? Sure if you choose to not participate in a JG you can live on $14k, I would advocated that it was increased to $20k but in the video that was posted above. Pirate Party members are in agreement that $14k is the UBI payment.

Why would it be left up to the market to decide how much are paid? The federally minimum wage decides what the market can’t pay below. A Job Guarantee paying $40k would set that minimum wage, anything below that is exploitation the JG also give workers bargaining power because workers are guaranteed a $40k income.

The usage of the term “mum and dad investors” always bothers me. Of what significance is a person based on if they have children? so childless men and women investors are less significant? Why should people be earning more than $40k for an activity that would be suitable of a UBI payment? If the market has determined such an activity was profitable, the people doing the activity would be employed by the private sector. The idea of the JG is to be a stabiliser between boom and bust cycles.

For example an engineer for arguments sakes, during a booming economy is paid $100k and during a bust that engineer has been made redundant and is unable to find employment at that salary. I would make the claim that the skills and experience of that engineer aren’t worth $100k because the market isn’t hiring engineers at $100k. Now the engineer has a $0 income, is it fair to only offer that engineer $14k? Of course an engineer wouldn’t be on the JG for long and when the market recovered, would gain employment which paid a wage more suitable to those skills and experience.

(Edwin Waters) #32

Ok that link worked, thanks

(Jesse Hermans) #33

These programs don’t needs “years” to develop. Plan Jefes was rolled out within a year, and there are plenty of ready to go implementations which can be piloted over a few months and started within a year. To say automation is making the operation of a JG unworkable is to firstly deny they already work and secondly makes an assertion which is not supported by current productivity trends, nor proves that JG workers will not be able to find socially productive work to perform.

You can speculate they will suddenly explode but you can’t substantiate a time-frame, this is not good enough for people who want to work and could be waiting years wallowing in their misery while the “jobless utopia” materialises - never-mind their misery doesn’t end because we didn’t culturally shift attitudes and dependency on work.

This equates to telling those suffering with mentally illness they should get over themselves and the problem is all in their own head. Who are you to tell marginalised citizens that the unhappiness they experience from being excluded from participating in work is their lack of a Stoic outlook on life?

Anecdotal evidence is not a sound basis for public policy.
You are making statements which fundamentally violate macroeconomics principles and reality. So far automation destroys jobs but then the freed up spending through lower prices goes into increasing output, which then eventually through a macroeconomic chain reaction draws up more labour into production. We haven’t changed this fundamental process yet since we haven’t developed synthetic human slaves.
Hence why there are still so many jobs:

This is also pointed out in Warwick Smith’s unemployment policy paper, which like all the other material I have posted I can only presume you have not read since I’ve seen no references made in this discussion. The report shows while routine jobs (both manual and cognitive) have been on the decline with automation, non-routine manual and cognitive jobs have been on the rise. Right now automation is merely altering the composition of work since there are non-routine tasks automation has struggled to takeover.
This is not to say this is an automation breaker but it does impair the speed and ubiquity of what is perceived to be coming.

The JGs purpose is not to suppress the transition to automation but facilitate it. So far all I have heard are wild anecdotal backed claims of elimination of any conceivable work and that this will happen before I can even get a policy document to be voted on at next year’s congress.
The JG remains relevant until people have broaden the concept of work to render its purpose of cultural shift and the safety net obsolete. At that point UBI fully supplants it and utopia ensues. Until then we are obligated to make policy for the circumstances in which we actually live, not what might soon be or will eventuate in a fundamentally uncertain future. It would be the ultimate travesty if in wait for utopian automation one more unemployed person committed suicide because of their marginalisation and social exclusion from the labour market, and we didn’t employ them because we were too optimistic about the policy being rendered redundant.

(Edwin Waters) #34

For starters we can get rid of Telemarketers, Data Entry Keyers, Loan Officers, Driver/Sales Workers, Telephone Operators, Real Estate Brokers, Cashiers, Ushers, Lobby Attendants, and Ticket Takers. Just to list a few, what do we need these jobs for? most of the jobs listed are going to require humanoid robotics which aren’t walking the street in 2017.


Not that I want to barge in on the furious agreement going on here, but it would make more sense to specify a JG in terms of an hourly wage, not a yearly salary. Not everyone can or even wants to work full time, for whatever the current definition of full time, and JG jobs by definition can come and go.

I suggest tying said hourly wage to the proposed UBI tax threshold level. So that’s $37500 / 52 / 38 = approx $18.98/hr.

So current society tends to tie up income acquisition with social interaction, and fails to instill the sense of self determination necessary for people to decide what they want to do with their time. That seems to be an argument that current societal structures are dysfunctional. Not that employment is inherently beneficial. I refuse to believe that humans are inherently slave-like, needing to be told what to do to feel good about themselves.

(The ‘lack of income leads to depression and hopelessness’ part I consider in need of no further comment.)

(Jesse Hermans) #36

I completely agree, but we’re not going to solve the problem of these social structures and cultural attitudes to work overnight nor resolve the problem by solely handing people UBI. Work has been in the cultural psych for such a long time it will require significant effort to dismantle people’s perception of paid recognition for the labour they perform and their primary source of subsistence.

(Edwin Waters) #37

I would agree that society is dysfunctional and is for the most part held together by our shared need to survive financially. We need to pay rent/mortgage, we need to buy food and water, we need to pay for transportation to get to work and anything else we work to pay for keeps us entertained.

I made an error in the comment you quoted, the UBI is $14k and not the JG. Working out the hourly rate for the UBI would be more difficult because it’s not based on hours worked. $14,000 / 8760 hours in a year = about $1.60 an hour right?


I see you have many evidences to back your position, and you clearly are very invested in it. So did the highly paid analysts who confidently proclaimed in the 80s that mobile phones would be owned by maybe a million people in the year 2000 (as we know the reality has been very, very different). And many, many other predictions that have turned out to spectacularly underestimate the rate of technological change and uptake of society-changing tech.

I think we will need to agree to disagree at this point.

Personally I see the rate of change being extraordinary rapid, you see it being more of a slow shift with new jobs replacing existing ones. This is a common view, and the easiest one to take if you have a hard time making rapid shifts in your worldview, and assume that others will have an equally hard time. But in the end, I’ll see that as “The dwarves are for the dwarves!” and wish you well…


(Andrew Downing) #39

Let me throw another spin on this - punctuated equilibrium.

Change in things like jobs happens in waves, mostly aligned with economic cycles. For example, the “jobless recovery” in the US economy after the 2008 GFC. The reasons should be obvious. Old business practices have a certain inertia, but a recession flushes out the inefficiencies (jobs).

We will probably have a recession here in Australia soon. Our private debt to GDP ratio is huge. Can’t put it off much longer.

So, expecting a surge of job losses without job recovery, what is the good policy position?

(Edwin Waters) #40

Our private debt is caused by reductions in federal government spending, this happens when a surplus is delivered. A surplus removes money from the economy, which forces people to get into debt to cover their expenses.