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  • (laughs)

  • (mumbles)

  • - Good evening and welcome

  • to the John F. Kennedy Junior Forum.

  • My name is Remington Hill and I'm a junior,

  • studying Economics and African American studies

  • here at the college and I'm also a member

  • of the JFK Junior Forum Committee here

  • at the Institute of Politics.

  • Before we begin, please note the exit doors

  • which are located on both the park side

  • and the JFK street sides of the forum.

  • In the event of an emergency,

  • walk to the exit closest to you

  • and congregate in the JFK park.

  • Please also take a moment now to silence your cell phones.

  • You can join the conversation tonight online

  • by tweeting with the hashtag Big Econ Ideas,

  • which is also listed in your program.

  • Please take your seats now and join me

  • in welcoming our guests, Oren Cass, Derrick Hamilton,

  • Will Wilkinson, Annie Lawrie by video call

  • and tonight's moderator, Jason Furman.

  • (applause)

  • - Thanks to everyone for joining us

  • and Annie Laurie from the Atlantic.

  • Thanks to you for being here and you will say something

  • and hopefully we'll know you're here.

  • - [Annie] Yeah, can you hear me?

  • - I can hear you great.

  • We also have, Derrick Hamilton,

  • who's currently at the new school.

  • He's about to be the director

  • of the Cowen Center for Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State,

  • Oren Cass who's at the Manhattan Institute,

  • which is a pro market.

  • - Free market.

  • - Free Market think tank and Will Wilkinson

  • who is from a moderate libertarian leaning think tank,

  • the Niskanen Center and all four of these people

  • are big thinkers about big ideas

  • about how to change our economy.

  • And I find in universities,

  • often we're really good at finding the problems

  • and everything and that leads us to have a harder time

  • thinking outside of the box about some of the bigger ways

  • you could have change.

  • But some of the bigger ways to have change

  • can also have problems.

  • The world today works okay.

  • You try to do something big,

  • you might mess up and make it much worse.

  • So what we want to do today

  • is put some of these ideas down on the table

  • try to better understand them and also see

  • what themes come out of them.

  • And also, I should've done this advertising

  • when I was telling people.

  • Annie is on the screen and so it's only fair

  • that her book is on the screen, Give People Money.

  • She will do a slightly longer version

  • of what Give People Money is to lead us off.

  • And then Oren Cass is the author of the forthcoming,

  • Once And Future Worker and I should say,

  • I read both Annie and Oren's books.

  • I think they're both terrific reads, really provocative

  • and both of them made me change my mind

  • on some issues that I'd thought about,

  • thought I had thought about quite a lot

  • which is about the best a book can do.

  • So Annie, why don't you start us off with your big idea.

  • - Yeah, absolutely.

  • So the idea of a universal basic income

  • is a really simple one, which is that

  • the government gives everybody money

  • and it's one that has not been undertaken thus far

  • by at least any big government

  • but a lot of lower and middle income countries

  • have sort of related policies.

  • And so just want to expand on the argument

  • for doing it here in the United States

  • because it sounds at first blush kind of crazy, right?

  • Like, why should the government gives everybody money?

  • Wouldn't people stop working?

  • Aren't there more efficient ways of providing support

  • for low income families?

  • And so, the argument basically is this one.

  • One is that the United States tolerates

  • and in fact structures its safety net

  • to allow a tremendous amount of poverty.

  • Part of the reason that we have that

  • is that many of the support programs that we have

  • have fairly complicated requirements.

  • They make you jump through a lot of hoops to get them,

  • they make sure that you are a very certain type of person

  • in order to receive aid but even with all that,

  • some of the people that are deemed

  • sort of socially important to take care of such as children,

  • nevertheless have very high poverty rates.

  • So that's one argument for doing it.

  • The second is actually kind of a libertarian argument

  • which is that if you just give people cash,

  • they tend to spend it pretty well.

  • They by and large don't actually stop working

  • or if they do, they tend to do so

  • for sort of socially beneficial reasons

  • such as waiting longer for a job match to become employed,

  • staying in school longer, taking care of a kid.

  • So we don't worry about that too much

  • and it's pretty easy for the government

  • and low overhead for the government to just give out cash.

  • There's also the argument that the government

  • should kind of butt out of people's lives

  • and trust them to do with the money what they would like

  • versus something like a housing voucher or food stamps

  • where in some cases, you see people actually trade those in,

  • in the case of food stamps because what they really need

  • is gas to put in their car or money to keep the lights on.

  • And then I think that there's a broader argument to be made

  • that in an economy as rich as the United States is

  • that you do just want to have

  • a universal guarantee for people.

  • A lot of times, there is no currently

  • no form of sort of social insurance that helps people

  • kind of regardless of circumstance, save for income

  • and this would provide that.

  • It would arguably encourage things like entrepreneurship.

  • It would help people and sort of unusual,

  • but nevertheless quite common circumstances

  • such as if you needed to leave a bad housing situation

  • or if you were in an abusive relationship.

  • So I wrote a whole book on it

  • but I'll stop there and I'm very interested

  • to hear all of our other big ideas from our big thinkers.

  • - Great.

  • Thank you Annie.

  • So Derrick is the co developer of the leading

  • or one of the leading federal jobs guarantee programs.

  • So tell us about that.

  • - I guess co-develop with Sandy Darity at Duke University,

  • Mark Paul, let me give shout out to other people real quick.

  • Elena Ha, Daniel Bustillo, Kaiser, Ofrono Mobial

  • and then special shout out Policy Link,

  • Angel Blackwell and Sarah Trehalf.

  • So the idea of a federal job guarantee

  • is not new nodes at radical.

  • President Roosevelt cold for economic bill of rights

  • and the first thing that he called for

  • was the right to guaranteed employment.

  • Unfortunately, since the Nixon administration,

  • the political sentiment regarding social mobility

  • has radically shifted from government mandates

  • of economic security to a neo liberal approach

  • that where the market is presumed to be the solution

  • for all our problems, economic or otherwise.

  • As a result, the onus of social mobility

  • has shifted onto the individual.

  • Pervasive in the implicit on federal markets

  • is the ideas that the virtue of the free market,

  • you can turn your proverbial rags into riches.

  • In other words, the deserving poor who end up poor,

  • they're stigmatized by the political fodder

  • of anti-blackness, whether they're black or not.

  • They receive their just rewards and they simply fade away

  • or have to do something else over time.

  • But the private sector alone has never been adequate

  • to deal with reinforcing inequalities.

  • Over the last 45 years

  • all the gains from American's productivity,

  • have gone to the elite while real worker wages

  • have remained roughly flat.

  • Even those that have a job, 44% of them are homeless,

  • 40% of them working contingent jobs,

  • and 44% have earned below $15 an hour.

  • Jobs stimulates plans championed on both sides of the aisle,

  • they use tax incentives and deregulation

  • to cajole a bribe and already record profit earning

  • private sector to create more jobs

  • under the whimsical notion of trickle down economics.

  • Or if we encourage them to build our infrastructure,

  • that could lead to a transfer value

  • of our public infrastructure onto corporate interests.

  • Instead we favor of federal job guarantee

  • which is a direct source to deal with unemployment

  • and it provides a stimulus effect

  • to stimulate a panopy of activity in the economy.

  • It would enable all workers,

  • particularly those at the low end

  • to bargain for better wages and benefits

  • without the fear and threat

  • of destitution from unemployment.

  • A federal job guarantee would eliminate

  • working poverty altogether,

  • it would eliminate involuntary unemployment,

  • it would address cyclical unemployment

  • as well as structural unemployment

  • and it would provide public options of employment

  • to better enable existing workers

  • to bargain for decent wages, working conditions,

  • again, without that fear of being destitute

  • from unemployment.

  • Our job creation plan provides direct competition

  • to the private sector,

  • particularly at the low end of the market.

  • It's not an employer of last resort program.

  • So rather than subsidizing low wage work,

  • we will raise the floor on wages and benefits

  • through competitive alternative to precarious work.

  • We will structurally change the US economy

  • away from low wage work.

  • We say that's a feature, not a flaw.

  • Moreover, it will provide the best buffer

  • against the threat of oncoming automation

  • which might lead to employment transitions

  • due to technical change.

  • We are not promoting welfare to work

  • but rather we're talking about an authentic right to work.

  • The jobs had reigned from construction, education,

  • health services, supportive housing, libraries,

  • child and elder care, arts and culture,

  • projects designed to transform our cities

  • to green municipalities that are emission free

  • and sustainable and resilient.

  • The work could also address disability interest

  • so that we are able to not only employ people

  • that are designated as disabled,

  • but empower them so that they can be more independent

  • in their living.

  • The federal government states, Indian nations,

  • local municipalities, community councils,

  • they all could conduct inventories of their needs

  • and develop a job bank of task

  • in which we will prioritize those communities

  • that are in the most need,

  • as well as provide stimulus to those communities

  • that are in most need.

  • A job guarantee would mitigate

  • the personal familiar course demand

  • from damaged mental health, having workers out of work

  • does emit damage to the human spirit.

  • The unemployed themselves, say they would rather work

  • than receive a subsidy.

  • Dignity is multifaceted.

  • One's dignity is not limited to work,

  • but everyone should have the right to work

  • with dignity of at least decent wages,

  • benefits and good working conditions.

  • - Okay, great.

  • An alternative also focused on work

  • is Oren on wage subsidies.

  • - Yeah, thank you guys very much for coming.

  • I guess I want to talk about a big economic idea,

  • bolting conceptual and sort of substantive policy terms

  • because I think it's helpful as you hear all of these ideas

  • to think about which visions of prosperity

  • we're actually banking on and trying to make things better.

  • So the big idea and this goes a little bit

  • to what we just heard as well is that work is what matters.

  • That when we're looking at our prosperity as a society,

  • what really matters is that people can find

  • productive work to do and that