Jobs For All and Wages For a Decent Life

People feel good about contributing something useful to the welfare of themselves and their families, as well as to the welfare of the nation.  In other words, people feel good about having a job that they can be proud of.  Every person contributing to the good of the country should be able to feel good about himself/herself for contributing, no matter what the job is.

In recent years, several factors have made finding a job (especially a job in which one can feel some fulfillment) more difficult—the off-shoring of jobs in the interest of profits, the general globalization of world economies, the moving of manufacturing to countries where wages are lower, increasing specialization in jobs (requiring more prior job experience and requiring more moving), automation, and moving factories and headquarters locations.  And, we are nearing a point where we will have more people than jobs, due to automation and artificial intelligence.

In addition, people who can’t compete in our regular job market (such as those partially disabled and those with lower overall qualifications) suffer from not being able to work and contribute—they could be doing useful things, but perhaps not full-time and perhaps somewhat erratically.  A significant portion of the homeless (a third?) and the chronically mentally ill (half?) could be working but have no way of getting the clothes and transportation to apply for or keep a job.

We have always presumed that workers were responsible for finding jobs, but recent trends suggest that this is not working well any more.  In my opinion, the nation as a whole bears responsibility for having enough jobs for people who can and want to work, so I believe that it is time to have a nationwide system of job-finding offices and for government and business to work together to create enough jobs for everyone, even if the cost of creating these new jobs must be partially borne by taxpayers.  Government should also invest more in retraining workers left behind and even pay moving costs to get skilled workers to where there are appropriate jobs.

This is not anti-business, and of course businesses must make enough profit to stay afloat.  I’m just saying that businesses should have a responsibility to help us employ everyone who can work.

These created jobs could be in public service (like more people keeping our towns and highways clean) or in regular business (like extra warehouse workers or cleaners or clerical help).  Hopefully these jobs would lead in some cases to regular employment with the same firms.  The wages from these jobs could help to eliminate much of what we call welfare now.  People who refuse to work even when able would probably continue to receive some subsistence-only government support.

I will also explore having a nationwide minimum income for all Americans—enough income to have a decent life (an apartment or house, a tv, a computer, transportation of some sort, enough food, healthcare).  We would accomplish this by making up through taxes the difference between their wages and what it costs to have this “decent life” (perhaps a total of $35,000 for an individual and $45,000 for a small family?).  The definition of a “decent life” would have to be determined by Congress.

It is unacceptable for the richest nation on earth to have a significant portion of its citizens (perhaps 20%?) who don’t make enough to support themselves even while working.  Employers that no longer provide workers benefits and some sort of retirement plan are contributing to the number of people who cannot make it on their wages, let alone have a decent life.  Examples are children working but still living with their parents, gig workers, uber drivers, and practically all fast-food and janitorial workers

This wage supplement would in no way discourage workers from continuing in their jobs.  It would probably be funded through taxes, though another way to go would be to raise the minimum wage to the point where it would support that “decent life.” 

Such a supplement would not discourage workers from wanting to “move up” in income, to have nicer things than could be afforded on the decent life income (though moving up in income from their employers through advancement would simply reduce the government supplement (if they had one), until they moved in terms of employer income beyond that decent life wage point.

The costs of supporting such a program would probably increase the cost of some goods and services, but my argument is that we are all in this together, and we all have responsibility for having everyone doing OK, so I’m willing to see what the impact on the cost of living would actually be of trying out this program to have everyone have a “decent life,” instead of simply giving in to businesses’ fears that they would surely go out of business if the costs to consumers of their goods or services were to go up.

I am open to other methods of accomplishing this goal.  If business can figure out a way to do it themselves, fine, but I doubt that they will be willing.  What we are talking about here is a shift from our ultra-individualist assumption about life to a more community-based approach in which we cultivate a sense of community for all.

Wanting a good life for all citizens is a matter of caring, not a matter of politics.

Being richer does not lead to greater happiness.

We can change our tax brackets to ensure that every citizen has a decent life.

Everyone should contribute to the common good, including those getting help from the government.

For their own sakes and to contribute to the nation, everyone needs a job of some sort (dishwasher, CEO, child-rearer, doctor, etc.).






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