A New New Deal – Truthdig

Decades of experience, in nations across the globe, provide ample evidence that while the private sector plays an important role, it cannot by itself provide employment for all who want to work.

There is a way to do that:  The government could serve as the “employer of last resort” under a job guarantee program modeled on the WPA (the Works Progress Administration, in existence from 1935 to 1943 after being renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942). The program would offer a job to any American who was ready and willing to work at the federal minimum wage, plus legislated benefits. No time limits. No means testing. No minimum education or skill requirements.

……To avoid simple “make-work” employment, project proposals could be evaluated on the following criteria: (a) value to the community; (b) value to the participants; (c) likelihood of successful implementation of project; (d) contribution to preparing workers for employment outside the program.

via What the Country Needs Is a New New Deal – Truthdig.


Infrastructure projects are one way to get the unemployed back to work and are to some extent offset by savings in unemployment benefits. I would add one qualifier to the selection of infrastructure projects: they must be selected in terms of return on investment (ROI) and not on the number of jobs created. Projects that earn a market-related return on investment—whether toll roads, high-speed rail, new port facilities or national broadband networks—will generate revenues that can be used to repay the debt incurred. At the right time, they can also be sold off to private investors in order to generate funds for further projects. Money invested in schools, libraries, universities and research should be funded out of revenue, and not from increased government borrowing, simply because they do not generate new revenues. Instead they require ongoing expenditure to staff, operate and maintain the new facilities. Read more in my discussion of Austerity and Infrastructure Spending.