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Vote Socialist 2012 - Now with a jobs guarantee!

danps's picture

Back in September I was casting about for a good, liberal rallying cry in advance on the 2012 elections and typed out the following platform:

1. Medicare For All.
2. End The Wars.
3. Soak The Rich.

It wasn't meant to be a comprehensive wish list, just three easy-to-measure metrics. ("End corruption" is a wonderful idea but how exactly do you know when you've accomplished it?) In a way it was a hat tip to Republicans, who are very skilled at articulating a short, ambitious list and finding a punchy way to present it to voters. I really think we need that on the left. We tend to go with laundry lists or get too technocratic in making our case.

Obviously you need people who are knowledgeable about the workings of government, but the hustings is not the place for excruciating detail. You need something that will fit on a sign or a bumper sticker and be memorable. That's what I was going for.

Lambert has continued to float the idea here and in various comment threads elsewhere (thanks lambert!), so in light of its ongoing presence in the discourse I'd like to make the following tweaks. First, a word change:

1. Medicare For All.
2. End The Wars.
3. Tax The Rich.

I was told it was terribly upsetting and class warfare-ish to put marginal tax rates in such extreme terms. OK, fine, although:

In her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with the children still watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her husband and then killed her.

That is class warfare.

Arguing over the optimal marginal tax rate for the top one percent is not.

But hey, why make waves?

Anyway, yesterday lambert wrote:

Corporations and companies, from the largest to the smallest, do not, as a child of six knows, exist to create jobs. They exist to create profits.

A splendid point!

So if you have room on your sign I hereby add the following item to the Officially Sanctioned Danps Socialist Platform:

4. Jobs Guarantee

UPDATE: Could also be "Right To Work" in order to reappropriate a hateful conservative union-busting euphemism as a liberal rallying cry. To lambert's point: jobs are at best a necessary evil for corporations, things that they must provide in order to maximize profit. But in order to maximize profit they need to provide jobs only on the most miserly and grueling terms - i.e. none of those pesky unions. Keep workers atomized, grateful for whatever pay they receive and fearful that any collective bargaining straw might break the camel's back.

That one's tougher since it's harder to measure, but certainly worth pursuing. Details to follow! Right lambert? Lambert?

No votes yet


cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

can only come about by restoring our manufacturing base and to do that all the foolish trade agreements will have to be scrapped.

So add a 4th.

Submitted by lambert on

is probably more easy to propagate for now as a name.

Gotta run, but I'm sure others can weigh in more effectively on the Jobs Guarantee than Ii can. I don't see why the metric is hard, though. It's just a remedy for market failure, where anybody who is willing and able to work can get a job, and not lose their health or their home so neo-liberals can regulate the economy with statistical murder....

coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on

Come up with another platform plank beginning with a vowel and you can make a short, easy word to pound home:

Medicare For All
End The Wars
Tax The Rich
Jobs Guarantee

Then add (to rip off Chrysler) "This is America. And this is what we do!"

katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

Jobs for Everyone would be a good balance to the first:

1. Medicare For All
2. End The Wars
3. Tax The Rich
4. Jobs For Everyone

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

reasonable to develop a list large enough to fill one page platform/issues type of flyer.

some ideas:

Public party and campaign finance only.

Non profit media/fairness doctrine... some such meme.

I also think Fair Trade not free trade or some such wording gets at so many issues from jobs, decent pay, health care, energy, environment.

Health Care is a Human Right instead of medicare for all, because as we see now medicare can be co-opted in so many ways without establishment of health care as a human right (including dental and optical and mental health). And it is not clear to me at all that tri-care (V.A.) wouldn't be much better than medicare (SP).

Also something along the line of Abolish Corporate Personhood.

Outlaw all government secrecy and all warrantless government surveillance.

Triple the minimum wage. (which would catch up with early 70's minimum wage earning power had it risen with inflation over the last 35 years).

Lower SS retirement age to 62 or lower.

Bailout homeowners, not banksters who should be in prison.

Reduce MIC spending by 85 percent. (to no more than russia and china's combined spending)

Establish free open highest speed in the world fiber internet for every home in the land.

goldberry's picture
Submitted by goldberry on

4 little statements. That's all you need. Any more than that and you will lose people, including me. Once you start getting down to the nitty gritty, bringing out the sustainable, macrobiotic, pacifist solar energy, I become very annoyed with the left that seems to have lost site of the real goal: to get a lot of voters to sign on. I guarantee that Heather in York Haven, PA does not give a fuck about your latest lefty obsession. The four statements are all she cares about. She's probably perfectly happy to eat genetically modified corn and get her electricity from Three Mile Island. We need to accommodate these people, not treat them like slow learners in the special Ed classes.
Voters who can't afford to fill their tanks to go to work aren't really into blaming it all on the Clintons or some mysterious corporate group. They want to "get it done".
So, please, please, please, I'm begging you to stop embellishing every clear, direct, easy to understand platform with unnecessary crap.
It's fatal.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

We could change "Jobs Guarantee" to "Right to Work." Use a hateful conservative union-busting euphemism as a liberal rallying cry. Might make some right wing heads explode in the process.

Submitted by jawbone on

as the rightwingers have done their usual dirty deed of messing up the meaning of a phrase.

I like the rhythm of three words, the "Jobs fof Everyone" phrase Katiebird suggested above. Or it could for "Jobs for All" to echo the first triad; also, it's somewhat punchier..

Medicare for All
Tax the Rich
End the Wars
Jobs for All

Given the long, slow strangulation of un- and disemploymet we're suffering through, with no real help from Obama et al and actual harm from Obama and the austerians of both parties, I agree that having Jobs on the list, perhaps foremost, as in #1, might be the way to go.

Jobs for All
End the Wars
Tax the Rich
Medicare for All

These main points can be arranged in different order, they can be explained further in one page flyers, and they can be used one at a time, etc. But the point is to boil down our objectives to brief memorable phrases which can be used over and over, so that their meanings become second nature to voters' understanding of those goals.

SocSec and Medicare have achieved that with the public. Right now, both Obama et al and the Republicans are working overtime to mess up that understanding, to undermine voter confidence in and loyalty to both programs. The continual harping that SocSec won't be there for our younger citizens is part of that effort, and they anti-FDRists are making good progress with that age group, as polls show. Say things often enough and even lies become truthie.

SocSec may need to be emphasized as we go forward, since Obama, Pete Peterson, the Gang of Six, Simpson and Bowles, the Republicans in general, Corporatis Dems, and some Blue Dogs are all working to undermine and cut SocSec, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Jobs, secure pensions, medical care all come under the general heading of Security. Even ending wars adds to our overall security.

Social Security is taken as a name, but "social security," security for our society on all levels, is of paramount importance. That has been undermined by tax policies of the past 4 decades. So...add another phrase?

Social Security for All

FDR talked about the Four Freedoms, but where is any mention of those from our current Dems? The Neo-Libs,nah; but they're big on building new armaments and using them in wars and "kinetic actions" of one sort or another. The Corporatist Dems? Lemon socialism is their approach: Privatize the corporations' profit; socialize their losses, but only for favored businesses, mostly banksters. Don't tax the rich, but do soak the poor and middle classes. The Republicans? They're like the anti-FDR Dems on steroids.

As I listened to the above linked YouTube of FDR delivering his Four Freedoms portion of his speech, I was reminded how effective words can be and also be completely meaningful. Too bad Obama can't do that. Alas, he dare not reveal his true meanings.

Next up, after general agreement on what we want to say: A good umbrella term, like New Deal or Great Society....

Fair Society? Democratic Society? What would work and not be easy to undermine?

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

1. Medicare For All
2. End The Wars
3. Tax The Rich
4. More Social Security
5. Jobs For All


-- Medicare for All may not be quite as good as NHS, but Medicare is familiar and comfortable to much more of the population than Tricare, and also a majority of Doctors now support it according to polls, so I think it would be much easier to pass than Tricare for All.

-- I'd immediately raise max marginal tax rates to 80% and then let people have tax deductions based on investments in American businesses in seed capital, and early growth stages that also hired US employees, rather than outsourced labor.

-- By more Social Security, I mean both lower full SS benefit retirement age, like 62, and also higher SS payments, perhaps double the size of current payments.

-- By jobs for all I mean a Federal Job Guarantee program for anyone who wants to work. The wage in the program should be equal to the early 70s minwage. The fringe benefits should include vacation and holiday pay, and Medicare, plus disability benefits (these would be available under Medicare for All anyway). The work week should be 35 hours.

I see no problem in funding all of this because the Government's ability to fund the private sector is unlimited. However, there are likely to be significant effects on the private sector. 1) demand would be greatly increased; 2) the demand increase plus the increased cost of labor might result in significant price adjustments; 3) and even inflation if the demand increase is great enough to exhaust the productive capacity of the economy.

However, even though the program would mean an increase in demand among working and middle class people, demand among wealthier people would be decreased by the new tax structure. We;d have to wait to see whether the shift in demand patterns is enough to counter the greater inflationary pressures in the economy. If not, we'd have to increase taxes at lower levels to siphon off demand.

Submitted by lambert on

BDBlue's comment here makes me think of this.

There's a whole ton of issues that the left and the (few remaining genuine) conservatives shading toward libertarian, ought to be able to agree on: Intrusive DHS groping, marijuana laws, uterine regulation.... OK, we might have to trade them something for the last one, but so what?

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

for that to work. Look at how Trump changed on abortion once he started to attract attention. I'm sure he'd do the same on health care, trade, etc. long before his particular species of idiocy had the chance to become useful. (Also see GOP on Medicare during 2010 campaign season and now.) I just don't see there being an upside worth pursuing in these kind of opportunistic conservatives. Should principled ones ever again walk the earth perhaps we could revisit it - but they'd have to prove themselves a damn good while first.

Submitted by lambert on

I don't see a reason to change it (even to make "for all" parallel).

First, I like the word "guarantee." Very strong.

Second, "Jobs Guarantee" is what comes up in Google, with concrete policy proposals.

It may not be perfect, but it does the job, and the MMT cadres ;-) know what it means.

katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

But, Jobs for Everyone has a ring to it. Also, it could easily be elaborated by saying "Jobs for Everyone, a guaranteed job at a living wage"

.... The piece Joseph Cannon quoted about Walmart being able to pay everyone at least $12.00 an hour should be repeated everywhere:

Walmart. This says it all...

A study released this week found that if the nation's largest low-wage employer, Walmart, were to pay its 1.4 million U.S. workers a living wage of at least $12 per hour and pass every single penny of the costs onto consumers, the average Walmart customer would pay just 46 cents more per shopping trip, or around $12 extra dollars each year.

Consider that the next time you hear some corporate mouthpiece warning of massive job losses if some minimally progressive policy were enacted. You never see them arguing on the cable news shows that increasing the minimum wage will hurt Walmart’s or McDonald's bottom lines; it’s always about the jobs that will be destroyed.

We all pay for Walmart's stinginess. Their workers can't afford medical insurance, so when they get very ill, they go to emergency rooms.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

thoughts on tariffs? Are they a part of 'Fair Trade'?

I feel as though they would be necessary to restore U.S. manufacturing. Every great industrial nation has built up its industrial sector on the back of protective tariffs. To rebuild ours, employing what's worked before makes sense, and there's enough manufacturing left in the United States that we wouldn't suddenly be without anything vital. The only thing we'd lack is oil, and we're supposed to be getting off of oil anyway.

beowulf's picture
Submitted by beowulf on

The Levy Institute, in the course of analyzing Warren Buffett's import certificate "cap and trade" plan proposed using tariff revenue to reduce payroll taxes. Using 2008 data, eliminating non-oil trade deficits (so numbers are big if oil is included) with tariffs would generate sufficient revenue to cut the 12.4% Social Security FICA tax by 4.8%. So employer and employee would each get a 2.4% tax cut (say, a $50,000 a year job, each side would pocket $1,200).

Its just a diabolically clever plan, basically what Wynne Godley and Frances Cripps suggested to the British govt in the mid 70s, as a policy of "non-selective protectionism with matching fiscal easing".

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

12.00 is a living with your parents wage.

I wouldn't consider 12.00 a living wage even if that included excellent bene's and a car.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i wanted to use that number somewhere in an argument recently, but didn't have a link and was afraid i was misremembering that $15/hr figure.

beowulf's picture
Submitted by beowulf on

Fair Work Australia has raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour or $569.90 per week from the 1st of July.

Oh, and I should note that Australia's March unemployment rate was 4.92%, their lowest level since 2008.

and yes Australian and American dollars are comparable (were trading at par earlier this year).

Submitted by hipparchia on

very useful links, all of them.

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

ties mid 70's US min wage/earning power to inflation since that time. Besides, if you would settle for 15-ish, you better ask for much more.

I have no car payment, liability auto only on my 20 year old truck, no health insurance and a mortgage payment below what most bottom rents are in my area... and i simply cannot fathom eating well, with most clothing of the second hand variety, and barely maintaing the car and house (in need of paint and a new roof) for less than 20 per hour/ 40k per year.

I wonder what costs of living are in re US and AUD might be?

The left must learn to give lots or room for overton window and sidewinding... this we should learn from the GOPers.

That said, i amend my demand to triple the minimum wage to quadruple. AFter all we are negotiating with criminals... don't be nice to them, be nice to those in poverty or perilously close to it.

All of what we are asking in this thread is entirely reasonable, perhaps too reasonable.

Let's get extreme... freeze all defense spending for ten years! POst all government information and money transactions on the internet as they happen. Lower SS age to 55. Free college or trade school for everyone, even immigrants. Tax the rich at 90 percent. Tie sales taxes to every stock and bond transaction. Lie us into war, no charges, no lawyer, no trial, no torture (see, we are humane).... just straight to a public hanging.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i'd seen $19 somewhere a couple of years ago as what the min wage would be if it had kept pace with productivity. i'm all for demanding 21 and settling for 15. $15 would be doable with totally free health care, and free college education for everyone.

i like all your other demands too.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

I think I'll go all downhomey with a simile. The people in a democracy are like the owners of a ship. The politicians are the crew. The people say, "We want to go to X." The crew is then responsible for getting the ship there. They set the course, take care of ship's maintenance, and the rest. The owners do not say "Steer 40 degrees north by northeast." If the crew can't figure out how to get to the destination, fire the crew and get one that can.

I know that's simplistic, since proponents of both totally unregulated insurance markets and of an NHS (like me) will say our course will get you to the destination of good health care. Nonetheless, I think it helps to remember that specific laws or programs aren't really the content of politics for non-politicians. We put ourselves at a great disadvantage when we try to argue specifics against the army of lobbyists infesting Congress, and the disadvantage isn't just financial. Most people don't have time to decide how, say, financial regulation should be done and most politicians aren't going to get excited over dueling details. We should start with the goal and only subsequently fight about the specifics, rather than saying "right now we have a problem and here's a specific law we'd like to see."

I'd argue for marinating ourselves in FDR's second bill of rights, to see how a masterful leader does it. I like the 12 words or less framing, but if one goes longer, I'd work on something like:

The right to a useful and remunerative job;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

While we're going to have to argue in specific terms sometimes, we need to remember how to keep hitting on the right of every person to a decent life.

Submitted by dirac on

we're talking about all these benefits/policies but I think we should also focus on systemic issues that have created the American mess. Part of that comes from thinking political innovation stopped in 1789 or the 1930s. We need a platform with accompanying systemic changes that can attract libertarians too! I am also for being extreme with demands--"Be realistic: demand the impossible"
I'd keep everything you've got but add these political considerations too:

- proportional representation
- parliamentary system - if you don't produce a budget, you get fired
- ranked choice voting
- publicly funded elections that last only 4 weeks
- i am of the opinion that college education or voctech/journeyman work should fully be paid by the public too
- perhaps a nationwide constitutional convention that requires democratic votes on amendments, etc.

It goes on...

beowulf's picture
Submitted by beowulf on

This is from a 2008 piece by Newt Gingrich adviser Peter Ferrera. The trick is calling it "workfare" and frame it as a way to punish welfare recipients. :o)

For example, suppose all aid to the able bodied was in the form of an offer to work. Report to your local welfare office before 9 am and you are guaranteed a work assignment somewhere paying the minimum wage for a day’s work. A private job assignment would be the top priority. If you need more money come back tomorrow. If you have children with no one to care for them, bring them with you and they will receive free day care, where they will be medically examined and treated if necessary. If you work a minimum number of hours each month, you get a Medicaid voucher that will purchase basic private health insurance. If you work for a continued period establishing a regular work history, you would be eligible for new housing assistance focused on help in purchasing your own home.

The new Federal minimum wage will soon be $7.25 an hour, or $15,000 for a full year’s work. These workers would continue to receive the EITC and child tax credits. This is an additional $4,000 for one kid, and close to $7,000 for two kids. Then there is the value of the child care and the health insurance. This is more than adequate as a safety net.
...[Better to zero out EITC and child care tax credits and offer the free day care and health insurance to everyone-- and simply increase min. wage. b.]

The government could even reduce administrative costs to a minimum under this system. There would be no need to maintain and investigate eligibility requirements. If Warren Buffett wants to show up for a work assignment before 9 am, no big deal. Most importantly, this new system would effectively eliminate real poverty in America. Everyone would have a place to go where they could get an assured job and an assured in- come of $25,000 to $30,000 per year...