Psychology and Mathematics Are Against Them

I found it very, very hard to get past the opening paragraph of Ady Barkan’s article at The Nation, “The Government Should Guarantee Everyone a Good Job”:

Progressives have begun to dream more boldly. We have graduated from a public option to single payer. From lower sentences to eliminating cash bail. From motor-voter to automatic-voter registration. From affordable to free college. And from a $15 minimum wage to guaranteed good jobs for all.

Note that they have accomplished exactly none of those things.

It might be just barely possible and tenuously maintainable for the federal government to provide a job for anyone who wants one. The jobs would need to pay just enough to support one and not so munificent that it would attract people away from other jobs, something that would require continuous tinkering, never America’s strong suit. The nature of the jobs would need to be changed repeatedly so as not to contend with the private sector for workers. Otherwise the deadweight loss would be disastrous. Providing good jobs? Fuhgettaboutit.

The ugly truth is that for many people the only good job is a high-paying sinecure. Making a job a good job is inside people not external to them. Happiness research has shown that with a proper attitude any job is a good job but without that attitude the same job may be drudgery.

The federal government can barely pay for and sustain the bare minimum of tasks required to maintain our society. The notion that it has the ability to satisfy every human desire is a free flight of fancy.

4 comments… add one
  • Andy

    I’m going to lay down my marker:

    My “good job” is one that is part-time, pays at least six figures, and is location-independent. It needs to have 2+ months of vacation a year, and comprehensive benefits. Ideally, it should pay me to do the things I like to do and am already good at – walking/hiking/outdoor activities, reading and videogames.

  • Roy Lofquist

    I’m a gonna bet you that this snake’s next article will be about how cruel and vile Trump is because he wants a work requirement for food stamps.

  • He does? That S O B! Food is a basic human right! Who could even hold down a job without it? Christ instructed us to feed the hungry, not work them to death. And oh yeah, Trump=Hitler.

  • Guarneri

    I’m sorry, Andy, but you will have volunteer or take a different job first. And you must do it well and successfully. Applications for working on the Bernie Sanders campaign are thataway —————>

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