Why a Job Guarantee will require higher taxation

by John Quiggin on August 1, 2020

Ever since I wrote Work for All with Australian MP John Langmore back in 1994, I’ve been pushing the idea that a path to full employment requires an expansion of publicly provided services. For about the same length of time, Bill Mitchell (also an Australian economostO has been putting forward similar (but not identical) proposals. At some point in this process, Bill became one of the advocates of what’s called Modern Monetary Theory, which makes the point that taxes don’t (directly) “fund” public expenditure. Rather, they ensure that the total demand for goods and services (for consumption and investment) don’t exceed the productive capacity of the economy, thereby generating inflation.

This reframing raises the question: does a Job Guarantee require higher taxation? The answer, using MMT reasoning, is “Almost certainly, yes”.

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