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The Cashless Debit Card Evaluation: does it really prove success?

Janet Hunt has earlier reviewed the so-called reviewers of the cashless card and found them wanting. She has continued her scrutiny and shows the many failings of the supposedly successful trial that is now being extended.

“The Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, claimed the trial a huge success, and the Prime Minister was in Western Australia on 3 September, saying with great
conviction:
“It’s seen a massive reduction in alcohol abuse, in drug abuse, in domestic violence, in violence generally; a really huge improvement in the quality of life, not just for the families who are using the Cashless Welfare Card, but for the whole community.
But above all, above all it’s an investment in the future of the children.

Someone needs to tell them that the report does not say that. Indeed, the authors qualify a number of their apparently positive findings with various caveats, but, at the same time, the evaluation itself has serious flaws, so even these findings are contestable. Despite this, the trials are continuing, and new rollouts of the Cashless
Debit Card are proposed elsewhere.

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Beyond Full Employment: What Argentina’s Plan Jefes can teach us about the Employer of Last Resort

Australian unions are campaigning to “Change the Rules” to improve rights at work. A fundamental part of this should be a job guarantee, as advocated by political economist working within the Modern Monetary Theory frame. One of the outstanding workers in this field is Pavlina Tcherneva. This paper analysing what happened in Argentina after the collapse in 2001 is an indication of the impact the job guarantee has on local comunity, gender inequality, social power and community development.

She emphasises that the Argentinian program was not developed along the lines her c0-theorist were pushing but it did share many features.

Key aspects of the analysis did match Keynes arguments (so often ignored by what Joan Robinson referred to as “bastard Keynesianism) that it is not pump priming o the economy that works, rather that a DIRECT JOB CREATION program works.

Further it does not “destabilise”, it is countercyclical, it is sustainable in the long term in sovereign currency economies (like Argentina with Peso on floating exchange rather than tied to a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar, like Australia with its dollars, like US wit its dollars but NOT like Greece without its own currency.

It empowered women in particular (and this aspct was one of the standout features of the program that the male policy makers and community members were forced to recognise), it created and maintained socially useful work designed and controlled at the local level, but financed federally. Thus it was a way to advance greatly socio-economic goals by creating work that enhanced the community (and was not compulsory). The model was not based on the minimum wage so was not totally successful at bringing all out of poverty but did hve the immediate impact of lifting socio-economic development by creating jobs directly, rather than jobs growth happening AFTER growth begins, which is the mantra economists bash us with today.

This is hardly radical left wing revolutionary stuff but does create a workforce that is locally organised and in control of their work and life, just as unions would surely wish to be a part of.

 

 

Ceteris publicus

Pamphlets into the Wind on why unemployment is a policy creation not a natural phenomenon

But if we really want to run ceteris paribus into the ground, there’s one final comparison to make — the share of workers in the public sector. In 1966, almost one-quarter of employees found work with the government. It should be obvious where this is going. Let’s assume that, rather than paying people to be unemployed, the government started paying people to be employed. Maybe in constructing public housing, acting as teacher’s aides, providing home care support for the elderly, or improving transport like Paul Kelly did.

Austerity Versus Green Growth for Puerto Rico

Amanda Page-Hoongrajok, Shouvik Chakraborty, Robert Pollin have developed a green growth plan for Costa Rica that would eliminate demand for fossil fuels, creat good jobs, reduce energy costs and give back local control of the economy. “In its essentials, our green growth plan consists of two elements: large-scale annual investments in both energy efficiency and clean renewable energy. Through these investments, low-cost, domestically-produced clean energy will steadily supplant imported fossil fuels, with the target being that by 2050, clean energy sources will have replaced fossil fuels entirely in Puerto Rico. This green growth program is capable of delivering much lower energy costs on the island, while also steadily reducing, and finally eliminating altogether, its dependence on fossil fuel imports. The green growth program will also be a major new source of job opportunities and will create widespread opportunities for small-scale ownership forms to flourish within the island’s energy sector. Major debt write-downs will be necessary to enable the green growth program to move forward at a significant scale.”

Unemployment: The Silent Epidemic

Pavlina R. Tcherneva examines two key aspects of unemployment—its propagation mechanism and socioeconomic costs.
“This pattern suggests that unemployment behaves much more like a virus or
an infectious disease than a random shock event. Not only does it propagate in a specific geographic pattern, but it also inflicts severe consequences on individuals
and communities. Indeed much of the literature on the costs of unemployment indicates that this is precisely how unemployment should be studied.
The relevant literature comes from health economics, the cognitive sciences, and public health. There is a large and growing body of research on the social determinants of health outcomes/inequities and social well-being, for example, where unemployment and underemployment emerge as key determinants among a set of multiple deprivations.
And while there is abundant research at the micro level on the impact of unemployment on labor markets, individuals, families, and communities, economic theory is impoverished for not theorizing these findings at the macroeconomic level.”

Precarious couriers are leading the struggle against platform capitalism

Deliveroo, Foodora, Giovo. The success of these companies depends on the exploitation of an invisible precariat. Now, against all expectations these workers are mobilizing across borders to claim their rights.

A strike by Deliveroo workers London in the summer of 2016 was the first sign that food delivery platform workers were capable of mass collective action. The strike spread from Deliveroo to UberEats, and then around the UK. A year on, that struggle has spread transnationally. Food delivery platform workers have now been on strike in over ten cities across the UK, Italy, France, Spain and Germany.

Their struggles have both won victories and faced serious setbacks, but the fact remains that a transnational movement of precarious labour has emerged from what appeared to be the most unlikely of circumstances. Workers who were supposed to be weak and powerless have spread their antagonism with capital across borders in militant, unmediated action. This transnational circulation of struggle provides an example of how the changing composition of the working class can provide new opportunities, even as it demolishes old certainties.

Alternative Models of Ownership

British Labour has a hard look at changing ownership models in this report:

REPORT TO THE SHADOW CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER AND SHADOW SECRETARY OF STATE FOR BUSINESS, ENERGY AND INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY

ONE:
Why alternative ownership models are needed
TWO:
Increased automation in the economy
THREE:
Different models of alternative ownership
a) Cooperatives
b) Municipal and locally-led ownership
c) National ownership

The economic system in Britain, in its current guise, has a number of fundamental structural flaws that undermine economic strength and societal well-being. The predominance of private property ownership has led to a lack of long-term investment and declining rates of productivity, undermined democracy, left regions of the country economically forgotten, and contributed to increasing levels inequality and financial insecurity. Alternative forms of ownership can fundamentally address these problems.

These issues are all the more pronounced given the increasing levels of automation in our economy. Automation has an emancipatory potential for the country’s population, but the liberating possibilities of automation can only be realised – and the threats of increased unemployment and domination of capital over labour only countered – through new models of collective ownership that ensure that the prospective benefits of automation are widely shared and democratically governed.

Further discussion here