On Monday, socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced a plan to give every American a job, apparently after reading Marx and then eating a pudding cup while watching the movie Dave. As The Washington Post reports:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will announce a plan for the federal government to guarantee a job paying $15 an hour and health-care benefits to every American worker “who wants or needs one,” embracing the kind of large-scale government works project that Democrats have shied away from in recent decades.
Where will these jobs come from? Public works projects a la the failed projects of FDR that helped lengthen the Great Depression by seven years. Sanders’ proposal would give every American the opportunity for a job working for the government. The best part of The Washington Post report, though, is this line highlighted by Elliott Hamilton:
A representative from Sanders's office said they had not yet done a cost estimate for the plan or decided how it would be funded, saying they were still crafting the proposal.
Of course Sanders hasn’t estimated cost or figured out how to fund it. That’s not his problem. Taxing people at inordinately high rates and destroying the economy matter less than achieving chimerical “fairness” on the basis of redistribution, even if everyone’s living standard declines. But The Washington Post shills for the plan anyway:
Job guarantee advocates say their plan would drive up wages by significantly increasing competition for workers, ensuring that corporations have to offer more generous salaries and benefits if they want to keep their employees from working for the government. Supporters say it also would reduce racial inequality, because black workers face unemployment at about twice the rates of white workers, as well as gender inequality, because many iterations of the plan call for the expansion of federal child-care work.
This is idiotic. If jobs programs from the government drive up wages due to competition, they also drive up unemployment, as economists from UCLA found about FDR’s policies:
In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity. Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.
As for the idea that government employment reduces racial inequality and gender inequality, the pathetic idea that black people and women can’t compete in the American economy is a solid case study in the soft bigotry of low expectations — creating make-work programs for minorities is a backhanded slap at groups that supposedly can’t handle the free market.
If creating jobs were merely as simple as having the government hire people, the Soviet Union would have been a wonderful place to live. But creating useful jobs means allowing the market to do its work. Fortunately for Sanders, he doesn’t care about useful jobs — he cares about useful votes and utopian visions of government as God. But his foolish utopianism is now being reflected across the Democratic Party, with pandering, histrionic Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) mirroring his plan as well as charisma-free Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Americans may fall for this routine — after all, big promises from politicians aren't exactly rare. But if they do, they'll pay the price in inflation, unemployment, and economic stagnation.