Keywords: full employment policy, unemployment, income insecurity, macroeconomics, buffer stock employment models, basic income, Australia, job guarantees, employment guarantees
The right to work versus the right to income
Since the mid-1970s, restrictive monetary and fiscal policy have led to persistently high unemployment and rising underemployment in Australia. This paper compares two policy responses to income insecurity resulting from these trends, in the form of a universal Basic Income (BI) and a state-provided Job Guarantee (JG). The paper examines how the problem of income insecurity is constructed in each model and the consistency of each approach with an effective and sustainable full employment strategy. While the BI model views unemployment as the inevitable product of market imperfections, the JG model sources its persistence in the failure of macroeconomic policy to maintain full employment. We argue that a more efficacious response is to understand why people are being deprived of the opportunity to undertake paid work. The JG is a means to alter the conduct of macroeconomic policy so that it provides employment opportunities and secure incomes for all.