Guaranteed Jobs

Bernie Sanders has apparently put forward a proposal for guaranteed jobs for everyone willing and able to work.  This appeals to the liberal in me, but I have a lot of doubts about how it would work.  I am no fan of Robert Samuelson, but he has some points:
Under their plan, anyone needing a job could get one at a uniform wage of $15 an hour, plus health insurance (probably Medicare) and other benefits (importantly: child care). When fully deployed, the program would create 15 million public-service jobs, estimate the economists...
Such a plan would be very disruptive to labor markets, though I think Samuelson picks a dumb one here:

The reason is Medicare. If it’s provided for those making $15 an hour, there will be pressures to provide it for most workers.

That's a feature, not a bug.  Medicare for all has a much higher priority for me than guaranteed jobs.  I do tend to think that government subsidized jobs might have a place when unemployment is high or very high.

One thing we do need to face, however, is the probability that an awful lot of current jobs will simply disappear over the next decade or two.  At that point it might be necessary to figure out what to do with all the unemployed.  That's a real and potentially catastrophic problem, somewhat akin to the problems Rome faced when individual farmers were replaced by slaves.

Here is a critique by an actual smart guy, Kevin Drum.


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