Sunday, May 14, 2017

Neil Wilson — Is Basic Income Basically Unproductive?

Under a Job Guarantee GDP will always be higher and not just because you get paid more.
Modern Money Matters
Is Basic Income Basically Unproductive?
Neil Wilson


commentsongpe said...

I'd agree that a guaranteed job would increase output vs a basic income but it seems to me we're jumping over the most important element when framing it this way. Should we not first ask what we in a democracy wish to have more output of? Output for output sake is silly, especially given environmental concerns and the fact that so much output today is senseless. Perhaps we all can agree we would like better public transportation, improved housing, better education, healthcare, etc. Then yes, let's hire people to do these things. While simultaneously taking people away from jobs that are agreed to be socially useless or harmful. Given our rising technology, it would seem we'll likely have far fewer jobs than there are available workers. So I think we need a combination of both - guaranteed job and a guaranteed income that's much higher than basic. The issue will likely be a central one in the 21st century and I don't think it's helpful to frame the issue as either / or.


Noah Way said...

Productivity is just another irrelevant statistic designed to support economic ideology.

Neil Wilson said...

"Given our rising technology, it would seem we'll likely have far fewer jobs than there are available workers."

That rather depends on your definition of 'job' doesn't it?

Everybody needs something to do with their day. If some people are giving up eight hours to serve others, surely you do as well. Otherwise those giving up eight hours a day will stop you getting paid twice - once in self consumption of your time and once in the time of others embedded in the goods and services you buy. That's unfair to the other guy

The issue with basic income is that they believe money compensates for time. The point of the GDP piece is to show that it doesn't - as a matter of national accounting and reality. We all only have so much time.

I will exchange my time for yours, but I won't allow you to have time when I don't get the same. That's why we resent the rich. Wealth gives you your time back as you can get others to work for you.

Bob said...

I give up my time reading this blog. Where's my cheque?

Ralph Musgrave said...

I agree with commentsongpe’s first two points, i.e. (1) that JG is bound to increase GDP, but that (2) we do not need output just for the sake of it. I.e. JG jobs can be hopelessly unproductive. That’s why the WPA in the 1930s acquired the nick name “We Piddle Around”.

Matt Franko said...

Well Ralph that would be mismanagement... not a necessary feature of a JG...

Anything we do we should seek to do our best... JG included... just have to install competent/qualified managers...

Ralph Musgrave said...

Matt, "Competent managers" are not easy to find. And as soon as one appears on the radar, some private sector employer will probably offer him/her a nice salary: big enough to attract them away from JG. And if JG does manage to attract competent full time staff away from regular employers, that reduces output of the "regular employer" sector.

The latter problem can be solved by NOT IMPLEMENTING JG in the way the WPA was organised, i.e. specially set up projects. The alternative and better system is to subsidise JG people into work with existing employers. I advocated that 20 years ago, and that system is now up and running in the UK in the form of the so called Work Progreamme (not that WP is free of faults). Under that system, the "already employed" competent managers find themselves supervising a small increase in the number of relatively unskilled people.

Tom Hickey said...

Matt, "Competent managers" are not easy to find. And as soon as one appears on the radar, some private sector employer will probably offer him/her a nice salary

Government has to compete with the private sector in hiring good managers, or the result will be less than good government. Non-profirts realized this some time ago.

Governments can do this. They do it with the military, for instance. Some governments also do it with the civil service.

The US tends to try to run government on the cheap, and when it doesn't, conservatives complain, except in the case of the military, of course.

commentsongpe said...


I believe all able bodied people have a responsibility to contribute when work needs to be done. But I also think it's foolish to just create jobs for the sake of ... what exactly? Perhaps everyone should be part of the 'reserve army' ready and willing to serve when called. Right now, the condition of the world is such that there's a great deal of work that needs to be done. But once infrastructure is brought up to speed and automation proceeds even further, then I think the JG becomes a highly regressive concept.

That's why I think it's best not to think of either / or as far as BI or JG. Also, I think the premise that BI should be 'basic' and that the JG should be relatively low wage is wrong-headed.