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This edited collection investigates how full employment programs can sustain the economy and the environment, promote social justice, and reinvigorate local communities. The contributing authors focus on the formation of institutions to eliminate the opportunity gap for marginalized populations, enact environmentally sustainable methods of production and consumption, and rebuild local economies through education, training, and community redevelopment programs. They argue that the formation and implementation of a federally funded, locally operated Job Guarantee program is a vital component to address a variety of complex and interweaving concerns. Through the formation of alternative institutions and encouraging local economies, the Job Guarantee approach has the potential to alter economic, social, and political structures away from an exploitative market-oriented structure toward one that is refocused on humanity and the sustainability of the earth and its peoples, cultures, and communities.



Chapter 1. Introduction

How can full employment programs sustain the economy, the environment, promote social justice, and reinvigorate local communities? Concisely, that this book attempts to answer. Specifically, the chapters in this volume focus on the formation of federal, state, and local institutions to reduce and eliminate the opportunity gap for women and minorities, promote environmentally sustainable methods of production and consumption, and rebuild local economies through education, training, and community redevelopment programs. The shared vision among the contributors of this volume is that the formation and implementation of a federally funded, locally operated, Job Guarantee program is a vital component to address these complex and interweaving concerns.
Michael J. Murray, Mathew Forstater

Chapter 2. Unemployment and Transformational Growth in the Long Run

The movement from rural to urban, from traditional agriculture to modern industry, is set in motion by capitalist development and is a central feature of the emergence of the modern world. But it rips apart the fabric of traditional life, creating uncertainty, while rendering many traditional skills, and a great deal of knowledge, obsolete. It creates a new world, where the traditional morals and manners may no longer be appropriate. But not only will the new world generally not absorb all those displaced from the old; it will itself discard the moderately stabilizing market mechanisms of the older Craft-based capitalism, and, moving into mass production (and later the information economy), come to work in a new and more unstable way. This long-term pattern of development provides, perhaps, the basic perspective for understanding unemployment in the modern era.
Edward J. Nell

Chapter 3. The Job Guarantee and Transformational Degrowth

The job guarantee was designed to address the problems of unemployment. However, in light of the environmental crisis, it is important to recognize the ways in which this policy proposal may be harnessed to cope with broader issues of social justice and ecological sustainability. This chapter looks specifically at how the vision of a job guarantee program aligns with and promotes the burgeoning movement of degrowth. In this respect, the most important feature of the job guarantee is that it eliminates the profit constraint on employment. With a job guarantee in place, the working class will not be hostage to profit-driven economic growth to secure an income. Under the existing paradigm of global capitalism, the world population faces a trade-off between ecological and economic prosperity. By severing the link between aggregate demand and employment, a job guarantee offers possibilities for an ecologically sustainable future without unemployment. In other words, a job guarantee decouples employment from economic growth and establishes a path for the reconciliation of economic and environmental goals. This chapter discusses the ways in which a job guarantee may be utilized to buttress the social justice and environmental aspirations of degrowth.
B. J. Unti

Chapter 4. Getting Serious About the Limits to Growth: ELR and Economic Restructuring Under Decroissance

Macroeconomic Policy and Environmental Realities: Can We Have Full Employment Under Decroissance?
This chapter argues that Post Keynesians are, despite their recent tepid concern for the environment, actually well-positioned to deal with limits to growth because they are open to active macroeconomic policies that actually change the structure of our economy. Traditional monetary approaches and quantitative easing merely inject more reserves into the financial sector, but this does not adjust the economy to slow or zero gross domestic product (GDP) growth because the financial sector seeks high returns within the market sector of the economy, is prone to cronyism, and will favor financialization over real investment in alternative structures if growth stops. Active fiscal policies advocated by Post Keynesians, on the other hand, not only deal more effectively with unemployment, they are also much more effective for restructuring the economy for eliminating the growth of high-throughput output and directing human activity towards more environmentally friendly activities. For example, fiscal policy can directly shift expenditures from high- to low-throughput productive activities, and an employer of last resort (ELR) program can be especially effective in directly shifting employment towards low-throughput activities. In general, fiscal policy is needed because many collective public activities must be expanded in order to restructure human society and diminish the human environmental footprint.
Hendrik Van den Berg

Chapter 5. Public Works Programs as a Strong Means for Land and Water Conservation in Iran

In the past three decades, agriculture has expanded very rapidly and the main source of irrigation has been underground water in Iran. Mistaken policies regarding extraction of underground water and inefficient supervision on the loans that were allocated for renovation of irrigation system were the main reasons behind the water crisis in Iran. At the same time, the country faced the problem of increasing unemployment and underemployment, especially in dry lands and drought-stricken regions. With rising poverty and malnourishment, crimes and social problems grew very rapidly; conserving water and land and creating job opportunities became the most important priorities. Farming return is generally low, and private firms do not want to run the risk of investing in agricultural activities. Public works program is an effective means to prevent agricultural problems from becoming a catastrophe. Projects which involve direct involvement of local communities, such as providing water delivery systems, drainage, sewage, and sanitation, help to generate employment opportunities and avoid poverty and its social consequences. Public works schemes can mitigate the threat of expanding water crisis and revitalize the agricultural sector through government investment and direct involvement of local beneficiaries.
Zahra Karimi

Chapter 6. Can Capitalist Modes of Production Be Biophysically Sustainable?

Environmental economics rooted in the neoclassical paradigm is ineffective and problematic. Viewing environmental degradation as simply a market failure has a distributional effect which disproportionately harms those with lower incomes and causes inequality. The mainstream anthropocentric approach, such as environmental valuation based on cost-benefit analysis and willingness to pay models, is unlikely to assess the intrinsic value of nature, but reflects only nature’s perceived market value. This chapter offers an alternative to the mainstream paradigm. The author examines the heterodox approaches to the environment for their compatibility with a truly sustainable development path. The chapter begins by looking at the similarities and differences between Post Keynesian (PK), institutional economics (IE), and ecological economics (EE) and the efforts that have been put forward to bridge the differences. The second section provides an analysis of why a capitalist mode of production might not be compatible with these alternative approaches. The third section introduces philosophical paradigms of other socioeconomic forms that could be more consistent with sustainable development. The last section presents conclusions and recommendations.
Josefina Y. Li

Chapter 7. Complementary Currencies in the Solidarity Economy: The Local Job Guarantee

Proposals for a job guarantee have been put forward as national policies due to the flexibility the federal government has in paying for the program. This flexibility stems from the ability of the Treasury and the Central Bank to work in concert in using fiscal and monetary policies. An alternative route to job creation at the local level would be to use a complementary currency to pay for community service employment. This chapter examines the potential benefits of such a program in terms of environmental sustainability and other advantages of political and economic decentralization and localism.
Mathew Forstater

Chapter 8. On the Reservation: Toward a Job Guarantee Program for American Indian Nations

The chapter proposes a job guarantee (JG) program for residents of American Indian reservations to combat chronic poverty and unemployment. The chapter furthers research on the racial wealth and employment gap; and serves as a case-study on the social costs of unemployment and the moral necessity of full employment. The chapter details the social and economic injustice laid upon American Indians from 200 years of US policy geared toward assimilation, termination, and acculturation. This history contextualizes the failing, pro-capitalist, Euro-centric policies of today which struggle to combat chronic poverty and lasting unemployment. Instead these mainstream policies further encroach on American Indian sovereignty. The chapter makes a case for a new progressive approach to development that centers on the non-profit nature of job guarantee proposals to sustain economic growth, enrich cultural development, and strengthen American Indian sovereignty.
Michael J. Murray

Chapter 9. Full Employment and the Job Guarantee: An All-American Idea

This chapter explores the development of the principle of a universal right to employment in the United States from Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights to the contemporary efforts of economists based at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Contribution to the development of the job guarantee scheme by black economists and advocates is given special attention. The breadth of support for the job guarantee across the ideological spectrum indicates that it is an idea whose time has come.
William Darity, Darrick Hamilton

Chapter 10. Employment Guarantee Programs as Automatic Stabilizers: Stylized Facts on a Macro Context and Micro Structure for Argentina

In this document, we analyze the fundamentals underpinning the performance of the Argentine economy since the abandonment of the Convertibility regime, with the labor market and income distribution at the center of the analysis. We will attempt to break down the elements that contribute to a sustainable path of growth that, in turn, lead to a reduction in inequity levels in the country.
Emmanuel Agis, Daniel Kostzer

Chapter 11. The Job Guarantee: An Institutional Adjustment Toward an Inclusive Provisioning Process

This inquiry seeks to establish that a job guarantee would animate the non-invidious re-creation of community, challenge the hierarchy which permeates social and economic relations, and facilitate an institutional adjustment toward a more inclusive provisioning process. In so doing, the analysis commences by revealing how the current institutional structure fails to provide a non-invidious provision of the material means of life.
Brandon McCoy


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