“You get the feeling they support it so they don’t have to feel guilty”
May 24, 2018 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Current Affairs, the magazine of politics and culture, now has Current Affairs: The Podcast where editors (Brianna Joy Gray, Oren Nimni, Lyta Gold, Nathan J. Robinson, and Pete Davis) discuss current issues from the left. The pilot episode includes a discussion of Universal Basic Income Vs. a Job Gaurentee, modern monetary theory , how the rich already have a UBI, why can’t we have both, and what would the wrong kind of UBI look like.
posted by The Whelk (34 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
I support a UBI, but Job Guarantee has always seemed like an oxymoron to me. I guarantee that if you legislate that, what that bureaucracy produces will be either not a job or not a guarantee. You'll be abusing the shit out of one of those two words.

I don't understand why that isn't patently obvious to any non-hermit.
posted by quillbreaker at 10:41 AM on May 24, 2018 [13 favorites]


The social wealth fund that they mention positively was discussed here previously.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:41 AM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


If a job guarantee is your answer, I won't want to be part of your solution. That's like the most pathetic, technocratic pablum.
posted by symbioid at 10:52 AM on May 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


I got all confused and thought that Maury Povich had gone legit. REAL LEGIT.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 10:54 AM on May 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


This was fun! Which is not a thing I say a lot about leftist podcasts. They tend to be either very serious, like The Dig (which I like), or very dirtbaggy like Chapo (which I don't care for). Basically this tweet.

But this podcast splits the difference between those two tendencies in a very enjoyable manner. Already a must-listen.

Also I was not prepared for how plummy Nathan Robinson's accent is.
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


I was unable to find a link to the podcast on their website or through Google. Finally, I just typed in the URL. I'll listen and let you know what I learn and think.

So... pre-podcast my thoughts are that I support either, but would greatly prefer a UBI. I'm hoping for traction around either idea, because I think it solves so many problems and would be great for the economy in general. Also, can't help but feel a little sad knowing Hillary would have pushed for this.
posted by xammerboy at 11:19 AM on May 24, 2018


One of the most memorable parts of my high school career was having a short film of mine run on fellow high schooler Nathan Robinson's local public access TV show about politics. He's a good guy!

I enjoyed the podcast a great deal. As Cash4Lead mentioned, it is tonally pretty unique for a leftist podcast. Even though we live in hellworld, it's so refreshing to hear happy, positive people speak optimistically about the better world that is still possible.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 11:29 AM on May 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Nathan J. is a keeper, and his magazine is a must read.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 12:03 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I support a UBI, but Job Guarantee has always seemed like an oxymoron to me. I guarantee that if you legislate that, what that bureaucracy produces will be either not a job or not a guarantee.

I can see being skeptical about this -- there are incentives to get job guarantee programs wrong and I might even agree that on balance, the negative outcome you describe is more likely than a positive one.

But I'm not sure I see any way around trying. I'm increasingly convinced that some people aren't just culturally programmed to need a job, they're temperamentally/inherently constituted in such a way that they need work&duty to have a functioning positive identity. Many of these people are sometimes annoying to me because my needs are different and I've noticed they tend to want to enforce their values on me or everyone (maybe even to a somewhat higher degree than most humans want that). I think any social battle over their attempts to enforce their temperament on everyone else can be won; I think any social battle that doesn't come to grips with the work&duty need in some subpopulation and find a way to meet it will probably falter and maybe eventually find itself with motivated and persistent opposition.

I also support UBI, assuming we can implement some version that does more good than getting sucked into our society's rentier sinks. But if we don't make some kind of reasonable job guarantee happen too, the internal discontent from those with work&duty temperaments will bite back in some way, socially or politically.
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:07 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


They seem like a good group and fun. There's a little too much noise to signal for my taste. I would prefer if one or two of them stated a strong informed argument and the rest reacted. Most of the objections to UBI, for instance, that it would increase stigmatization of the unemployed, or not fully cover living costs, or not fully transform society equitably, didn't seem like serious objections to me. Wouldn't an unemployed person still be better off with some extra money regardless?

One part of the discussion I don't understand in general is all the discussion about whether or not debts matter in general in monetary policy. This seems like an entirely different discussion to me. Tying it to UBI makes it sound like UBI creates debts, or at least significant ones, and I don't buy that. Tying this discussion to UBI implies they do, conceding conservatives major criticism of UBI (that it's hugely and impractically expensive) is true. A good discussion of UBI should start from the opposite side of the fence. More surprising is all the ways it pays for itself. We have lots of data from Alaska.
posted by xammerboy at 12:10 PM on May 24, 2018


For instance, I've seen people argue that universal healthcare is a good idea because debts don't matter. This is a crazy way of presenting the argument, considering there are a ton of ways healthcare can SAVE money. I still don't know how we lost the argument for providing people with cheaper and better healthcare for all according to all available evidence of every kind, and worry that's how we'll lose the UBI argument.
posted by xammerboy at 12:20 PM on May 24, 2018


UBI pegged to cost of living, universal healthcare, equal pay for equal work, training and work for all who want it. You know, a social investment mechanism that has democracy, equality, and general welfare. The true wealth of nations.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 12:26 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Debts don't matter" sounds like a straw version of MMT. Or, to be charitable, a poorly-summarized version. The slightly more accurate soundbite version would be "federal budget deficits don't matter".

But the real point of MMT is that currency-issuing, tax-collecting governments control both supply and demand for currency and therefore don't have to "find" money to pay for things that need doing. They can temporarily increase supply as-needed (by literally printing money) to fund programs and then reduce supply later on through taxation to keep inflation in check.

And actually many governments don't mind doing exactly this (*cough* Iraq War II *cough*; substitute the Apollo Program if it suits your politics better) for any number of things, they just refuse to do it for anything that is intended to address wealth inequality.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:34 PM on May 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've seen people argue that universal healthcare is a good idea because debts don't matter.

Well in a previous topic when I brought up that debts don't matter, so we shouldn't have to "show our work" for every social program, I got pushback from folks basically saying this line of argument doesn't help pass legislation and we should show our work because to not do so would be as bad as what the Republicans are doing with the tax cuts.
posted by FJT at 12:43 PM on May 24, 2018


This was fun! Which is not a thing I say a lot about leftist podcasts. They tend to be either very serious, like The Dig (which I like), or very dirtbaggy like Chapo (which I don't care for). Basically this tweet.

I mentioned before another good "serious" (but not *too* self-serious) one is Citations (plural, singular is some other podcast) Needed
posted by atoxyl at 12:48 PM on May 24, 2018


I've said this before, but I want a new Works Progress Administration - to include the arts, just as the original one did. And I'd like it to add social capital - we need more teachers, addiction workers/counselors, medical personnel, social workers, etc.

I really like the idea of a universal basic income, but I want to add a WPA on top of it, because we have so much to do and fix in America now that if we undertook a massive WPA that included the caring/health/education professions, we'd have plenty of work for all who need it.

As it is I think we could do universal food stamps/SNAP - so much food is wasted that I think we could just give it away - a sort of food banks for all and SNAP for all, with extra allotments for families with kids, and for people with disabilities who can't earn income.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:09 PM on May 24, 2018 [19 favorites]


JG-UBI
posted by kliuless at 1:11 PM on May 24, 2018


Can anyone tell me how wonky it is? I like nerdo podcasts like the CFR's, Lawfare's, The Weeds and Smart Women, Smart Power. Though I don't mind some noise if it's a fun time (looking at you, Deep State Radio).
posted by schroedinger at 1:20 PM on May 24, 2018


I've said this before, but I want a new Works Progress Administration - to include the arts, just as the original one did. And I'd like it to add social capital - we need more teachers, addiction workers/counselors, medical personnel, social workers, etc.

Yeah, when I think of a jobs guarantee program this is what I think of. God knows we need all of those positions. Plus goddamn, we're short on healthcare workers plus we're going to need people to help rehab the infrastructure that we seriously fucking need to address.
posted by schroedinger at 1:24 PM on May 24, 2018 [7 favorites]




I wanted to like this but the “UBI v JG” segment was a really glib and shallow treatment of a serious topic. Chapo did it better.
posted by moorooka at 3:23 PM on May 24, 2018


See also this Citations Needed episode on MMT
posted by moorooka at 3:25 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm for UBI, I'm for a new WPA, I'm for REAL Universal Healthcare (not the current cash grab for insurance Companies) and I'd possibly even be for a jobs guarantee program if you could convince me that it wasn't just another conservative scam like right to work.

But today I'm cranky and just want to burn it all down.
posted by evilDoug at 3:33 PM on May 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

"No," said the Democrat, "but we'll fix that if you vote for us in November!"
Dickensian workhouses are just one of the many ways this scheme fails. I mean, I'm so old I remember a time when Progressives were opposed to putting work requirements on social services.

One point that sticks out to me is that it's means-tested where the means are "can't get a real job." You gotta get everyone in on the graft. It should be fairly difficult to avoid receiving your UBI bux. You could donate them to charity, church, or the national debt, if you feel that strongly about it, but you gotta take your cut.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:27 PM on May 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


UBI + expanded public sector + increased funding for science and the arts would make a lot more sense than a jobs guarantee, in my opinion. The UBI ensures nobody falls into truly dire poverty, while the public sector jobs & funding put people to work building, discovering, and creating things that actually matter.

How all of that gets paid for is another question, but at least you wouldn't have to devote resources to inventing and supervising tons of low skill make-work projects.
posted by Kilter at 5:18 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


lmao man the class signals from that podcast made me all ragey even though i'm ostensibly on the same side as these guys. i just can't hang with nate saying shit like "i beLEIVE this is how they do it in BELgium" etc. i was not expecting to have this intense feeling. i'm ok with current affair. but. hm.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 5:21 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I definitely agree with all the reservations about jobs guarantees from the work requirement standpoint, but as for the "busy work" objection: there is infinite room for job creation as long as we define "educator" and "student" as paying jobs, which we should absolutely do.
posted by contraption at 5:24 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I’m not sure why so many people (including the podcasters) assume that a JG is about creating “low skill” jobs... is it so hard to imagine that these jobs could maybe be used to, I dunno, develop skills?
posted by moorooka at 5:38 PM on May 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


I brought up that debts don't matter, so we shouldn't have to "show our work" for every social program, I got pushback from folks basically saying this line of argument doesn't help pass legislation and we should show our work because to not do so would be as bad as what the Republicans are doing with the tax cuts.

God forbid we might try what the party actually passing legislation is doing. Urgh liberals.
posted by moorooka at 5:43 PM on May 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


God forbid we might try what the party actually passing legislation is doing.

you mean winning elections? yes that would be cool.
posted by wibari at 10:49 PM on May 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Also I was not prepared for how plummy Nathan Robinson's accent is.

lmao man the class signals from that podcast made me all ragey even though i'm ostensibly on the same side as these guys. i just can't hang with nate saying shit like "i beLEIVE this is how they do it in BELgium" etc. i was not expecting to have this intense feeling. i'm ok with current affair. but. hm.

There's a profile of Robinson in which it's admitted right off the bat that the accent/mannerisms are sort of an affectation (he was born in England but left as a child). He kinda seems to me like an "upper-middle"-class kid who likes pretending to be an eccentric toff but I don't really know exactly.
posted by atoxyl at 11:05 AM on May 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


they're temperamentally/inherently constituted in such a way that they need work&duty to have a functioning positive identity

So volunteer. There are zillions of volunteer positions that can provide that.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:18 AM on May 26, 2018




Episode 4 discussing the purpose and of political humor as propaganda, they ask “So, is it okay to make fun of Nathan’s accent and where did it come from?
posted by The Whelk at 4:28 PM on June 19, 2018


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