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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 31, 2012

More for Less: The Job Guarantee Strategy

Philip Harvey EMAIL logo
From the journal Basic Income Studies

Abstract

The cost and effectiveness of a basic income guarantee and a job guarantee (combined with conventional transfer payments) are compared with respect to their ability to eliminate poverty and unemployment. It is argued that a BI guarantee provided in the form preferred by most advocates of the idea (a universal basic income grant or equivalent negative income tax) would be both more costly and less effective than a job guarantee—if the latter is properly designed to secure the right to work and income security recognized in in the Universal Declaration of Human Right. It is further argued that the job guarantee strategy configured in this way also would do more to promote the real freedom goals of the basic income advocacy movement.

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  1. 1

    For exceptions to this rule, see Lo Vuolo (2008); Tomlinson (2008).

  2. 2

    This does not mean that all of the jobs would pay the average wage. The average wage in my model is simply an estimate of the mean wage persons employed in the program would have received if they were paid wages equal to what similarly experienced and qualified individuals received as new hires in regular private and public sector jobs.

  3. 3

    Copies of these two articles can be accessed at www.philipharvey.info

  4. 4

    Food stamps, now renamed the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), presents a mixed case, since it provides near-cash benefits to all categories of public aid recipients (as well as persons for whom SNAP benefits are the only transfer benefits they receive). Because of its historic association with AFDC, the Food Stamp program shared a good deal of the former’s stigma, but more recently the federal government has undertaken a deliberate and reasonably successful campaign to de-stigmatize the program. The name change was part of this campaign, along with the replacement of food stamp coupons (which called attention to recipients when they made food purchases) with a debit card system that allows recipients to spend their benefits invisibly.

  5. 5

    This is exactly what happened in the winter of 1933–1934 when it became clear that the Roosevelt administration intended to fund genuine jobs for the unemployed rather than simply require them to perform labor as a deterrent to their seeking public aid. Conservatives quickly abandoned their historic preference for work requirements and began to express support for “direct relief” (providing cash aid without a work requirement) on the grounds that it would be cheaper than the work relief program being organized by the Roosevelt administration.

  6. 6

    For a fuller exposition of this hypothetical and the analysis which follows, see Harvey (2005, pp. 36–40).

Published Online: 2012-12-31

© 2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin / Boston

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