Linx, green jobs

March 15th, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Two WaPo posts for your entertainment: First, when it comes to fixing the recklessly drafted tax bill, the D’s have some leverage. I offer some thoughts on how they should use it.

Second, my old friend Larry Kudlow’s going to be heading Trump’s NEC. Some reflections on about 25 years of arguing with the dude.

Readers know I’ve long been promoting subsidized jobs programs. Even as we close in on full employment, there are still significant pockets of folks who have difficulty finding their way into the job market. Sometimes it’s a supply-side problem–skills, health, criminal record, discrimination–sometimes, demand side, as in not enough jobs.

I’m often asked: what will these folks do? Well, some programs subsidize private sector jobs, so the answer is: the same stuff everyone else does. But other ideas involve the public sector creating employment opportunities, which can range from child care, educational assistance, maintaining public properties, and more.

This WaPo article¬†told the story of “the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program. Created through a partnership between DC Water and the Water Environment Federation, the program educates and trains new workers in how to build, inspect and keep up green infrastructure like rain gardens, roof gardens and pavement that absorbs water. The projects can slow, clean and sometimes reuse storm water that otherwise would flow dirty and unchecked into area waterways.”

Great idea! And, just to be clear, this is an existing program. When I talk about these ideas for jobs programs, people sometimes react as if I’m way outside the box. In fact, we’ve had long experience with public job creation, and have some informed ideas about what works and what doesn’t.

More to come on that…

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3 comments in reply to "Linx, green jobs"

  1. Kevin Rica says:

    I found out today that Larry Kudlow used to be in the SDS as an undergrad.

    More proof that the pendulum always swings to extremes.


  2. Smith says:

    Subsidized job programs are corporate welfare dressed up to look programs benefiting those less well off and hard to employ. The very studies you’ve cited in the past to support those programs show a substantial portion of the money spent has no effect increasing job creation.
    If you want to help people with difficulty finding work, do so. Create programs to help the unemployed and underemployed. But don’t pay companies to hire workers and pay substandard wages. Where does that leave the business paying regular wages. How are they supposed to compete?
    Also left unexplained is how treating the symptoms of unemployment won’t drain resources better spent developing a cure.
    Subsidies are like saying we’re going to eliminate the male female wage gap by having the government pay workers the difference.
    I’ll add that subsidies are like EITC, the favorite program of Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Speaker Ryan.
    When you talk about offering government jobs for the hard to employ, it makes one shudder. It’s not like the government doesn’t already have a hard enough time recruiting without the burden of dispelling the notion government jobs are for those who can’t hack it in private enterprise, or are just make work jobs.
    Especially when unemployment is so low, now’s the best time to work with and help the difficult to employ. It’s the least likely time to offer subsidies or make work. That’s crazy talk.


  3. Smith says:

    Now that I’ve had a chance to read the Washington Post link, I’m going to further object to the major proposals advocated by Mr. Bernstein. Please hear me out. Government programs should not treat symptoms, and ignore causes. They should not make the working middle class pay for the poor and less fortunate. They should not relieve the true beneficiaries of our unequal society (upper 20 percent of income) largely untouched of responsibility, and they should not further inequality, entrench it by throwing people government need based benefits to keep them from rioting or voting or asking why they are reduced to relying on government handouts. Government programs shouldn’t help out businesses with wage subsidies that are paid for by the middle class and hurt businesses not getting the subsidy.
    The EITC program is enormous already, compare it to any other need based program, and is stretched to help out people with very substantial incomes. Also, what possible justification is there for wage subsidies for adults without children? A big part of targeting EITC to workers with dependents is that childcare prevents them from full time work, and permanent work. Of course a better idea is a universal childcare program, which would also put low income earners on a more equal footing, and presumably produce better outcomes. For childless adults, put the money instead into helping them get jobs, or creating an economy that generates jobs. Don’t encourage employers to offer substandard wages, and increase corporate welfare.
    Except in periods of mass unemployment, like the Great Depression, the government should not be an employer of last resort. You are basically destroying the government workforce this way, tainting all government workers. Or is it your intention to carefully label the workers who are hired because they couldn’t find jobs under normal market conditions? This policy is counter productive. The government fights discrimination by practicing equal opportunity, by not discriminating in it’s own hiring (we hope), and enforcing anti-discrimination law. It doesn’t say we will purposefully fight discrimination by hiring those who private industry has discriminated against. This is an apt analogy.
    I will again raise the point that with current low unemployment, this is the very least likely time to consider wage subsidies, government jobs, and other relief measures. It’s the best time to push for programs that assist those wanting to work to break into the real job market. If you can’t come up with a program that helps people this way, at this point in the business cycle, aside from subsidies, I can. Anyone can. It requires a lot of work and understanding of job markets. I don’t even rule out some better constructed programs that are on the surface, somewhat similar to your subsidies or government jobs. But the programs you’ve previously advocated do not adequately address the true priorities. Also absent is addressing the original causes of an underclass.
    Your way is constantly addressing symptoms, and helping the needy. Government poverty programs and need based assistance do not alleviate poverty, they alleviate the symptoms.
    I give you credit for push to raise the minimum wage. It dwarfs any increase EITC, doesn’t fall on the taxpayer, and further weakens any argument for expanding EITC to childless adults. The goal of liberals should be to eliminate the need for SNAP, EITC, and TANF, and housing subsidies, not expand them.


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