Guaranteed Jobs: An Explainer
Ed Dolan

I think it is a mistake for the government ever to set about to create jobs. Jobs are a by-product of wise spending, and the wisest spending occurs when the private sector isn’t using the resources required. (Could we have done Hoover Dam if we didn’t have a depression? Would we have needed the dam any less?)

The government almost always has something useful to do if the resources are available. Our infrastructure could benefit from trillions of dollars of upgrades. Allowing for the usual waste, abuse, and fraud — these are human beings we’re dealing with, after all — there’s still much value to be added if the people and materiel are available. Pols can talk about how those projects will create jobs — but that’s just selling sizzle, which is always a good idea — but the steak (and some pork, I suppose) must be there, and it should be the basis for the policy decisions.

In short, the government should always have enough good projects in the pipeline to absorb the resources available to it, which is the same thing as saying to provide full employment, but with the focus on creating value, not creating paychecks. We have helicopters for that.

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