Economy & Business

Democrats’ Universal Job Plan Would Be a Socialist Disaster

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a Capitol Hill press conference, October 3, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)
No skills, no interest in learning, and no wish to look for work? And you're not bothered by bankrupting America? This plan is for you.

Senator Bernie Sanders is set to announce a plan that guarantees every American “who wants or needs one” a lifetime government job paying at least $15 an hour, with health insurance and other perks. This new progressive work force will then, according to the Washington Post, build glorious “projects throughout the United States aimed at addressing priorities such as infrastructure, care giving, the environment, education, and other goals.”

It would be one thing if the nation’s leading socialist — and perhaps the most popular Democrat in the country — were the only one interested in creating a state-run work force to “compete” with the private sector. A number of other allegedly moderate Democrats and prospective presidential candidates, including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, favor a universal job guarantee as well. It’s rapidly becoming a mainstream idea.

One imagines that a quixotic proposal such as this polls quite well. I mean, who doesn’t want everyone to have a job? You don’t possess the skills that enable you to find productive work? You don’t want to learn a new trade? You don’t want to obtain a better education? You have no interest in moving to an area where your work might be in demand? You don’t want to start your career with a lower wage even if the long-term prospects of doing so might be worthwhile? Don’t worry. The government’s got an incentive-destroying job opportunity just for you.

And if you’ve been fired for a poor work ethic, or for stealing, or for making women uncomfortable with your creepy behavior, fear not; Bernie’s got your back. In the rare event that state workers do misbehave, they would be summoned to a Division of Progress Investigation (a relic of our 1930s stab at socialism) to “take disciplinary action if needed.” If the DPI were to run anything like major public-schools systems do, you can imagine it would be a study in meritocracy.

“Job-guarantee advocates,” the Washington Post says, make the absurd claim that Sanders’s 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.”

Corporations are concerned with profit. If the minimum wage kills jobs, why should we believe that businesses (especially smaller ones) would compete with government-funded projects that can print money and create salaries (and benefits) that are wholly untethered from the real cost of labor? Businesses would simply hire fewer Americans — especially those Americans first getting into the labor force.

Of course, it’s more likely that our state-run work force would be deployed for ideological and political priorities rather than economic ones. If history is any indicator, it would be used to prop up politically useful projects and keep failing industries afloat, undermining creative destruction, innovation, and long-term growth.

No doubt the Washington, D.C., bureaucracy that would emerge to run this project would be both nimble and competent.

You do have to wonder, what would happen if local communities that share President Trump’s “priorities” were to demand utilizing this state labor? What if they wanted to build sections of a wall on the southern border rather than make solar panels, or whatever progressive priority Sanders has in mind? We’d be hearing about a rise of fascism in no time.

Then there is the mission creep. No doubt the Washington, D.C., bureaucracy that would emerge to run this project would be both nimble and competent. But why only $15? Who can live on $15 an hour? Well, not a lot of people. Surely, these hard-working public servants who keep the infrastructure from crumbling around us deserve a genuine living wage. How about better pensions? As this work force grows, it wouldn’t possess any special ability other than being able to corral huge numbers of people to demand more.

Most of all, making government responsible for every American’s job prospects would change the dynamics of governance — forever. Not only would politicians be expected to help create the economic conditions that make growth possible; they would then face another unrealistic expectation. Unemployment would no longer be a function of economic conditions but rather heartless politicians who fail to create jobs for voters.

This is exactly what is wanted by left-leaning economists who obsess about inequality and push zero-sum fantasies about wealth and growth. It’s why they wanted the federal government to control the structure of the health-care system, and it’s why they want to create a “public” job option. Most of them openly argue that the universal job program would let them control wages and benefits in the private sector.

Democrats have yet to tell us how they plan to fund this massive work-force idea that doesn’t generate any profit. I have a strong suspicion it will have something to do with the nefariously wealthy not paying their fair share. I’m not sure, however, that even the Koch brothers could afford to bankroll this idea. But it’s not really meant to pass. Not yet. Republicans would never go for it, after all. Democrats see this as a promising campaign issue. In the meantime, they continue to normalize destructive socialistic ideas in political discourse.

© 2018 Creators.com

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

Most Popular

Media

About That ‘Uncoverable’ Biden Story

Journalists claim they can’t cover the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop because the underlying evidence has yet to been verified. Also, they won’t look for any verifying evidence because there isn’t enough evidence. It’s quite the conundrum. Because other than the now-corroborated emails, ... Read More
Media

About That ‘Uncoverable’ Biden Story

Journalists claim they can’t cover the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop because the underlying evidence has yet to been verified. Also, they won’t look for any verifying evidence because there isn’t enough evidence. It’s quite the conundrum. Because other than the now-corroborated emails, ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
Elections

Late Campaign Stops Don’t Seem to Do Much

Growing up in New Jersey, we called nights like tonight – where there were expectations for hooliganism -- vandalism, breaking windows, and perhaps even arson, “Mischief Night.” In Detroit, they called it “Devil’s Night.” In 2020, Americans just call it “Friday.” On the menu today: wondering ... Read More
Elections

Late Campaign Stops Don’t Seem to Do Much

Growing up in New Jersey, we called nights like tonight – where there were expectations for hooliganism -- vandalism, breaking windows, and perhaps even arson, “Mischief Night.” In Detroit, they called it “Devil’s Night.” In 2020, Americans just call it “Friday.” On the menu today: wondering ... Read More

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More
Economy & Business

Daylight Savings Forever

Before I became a parent, I didn't have especially strong feelings about the time shifting by an hour twice a year. Like most people I was aware of the downsides -- increased car accidents, schedule confusion, etc. -- and I figured it would be better to knock it off. But I didn't feel personally offended by ... Read More
Economy & Business

Daylight Savings Forever

Before I became a parent, I didn't have especially strong feelings about the time shifting by an hour twice a year. Like most people I was aware of the downsides -- increased car accidents, schedule confusion, etc. -- and I figured it would be better to knock it off. But I didn't feel personally offended by ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More