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Can the U.S. fix unemployment with 'Universal Basic Jobs'?
What would happen if the U.S. guaranteed every citizen a job with a living wage and benefits?
Stephanie Keith / Getty
- A new book from Pavlina Tcherneva, chair of the economics department at New York's Bard College, makes the case for a "Job Guarantee" federal program.
- The program would grant jobs to every citizen who's willing and able to work.
- A 2019 poll found that a majority of Americans would support a federally funded jobs program.
Since COVID-19 began spreading across the U.S. earlier this year, more than 45 million Americans have filed for unemployment. The Federal government has passed a $2.3 trillion economic stimulus package. And unemployment hit Depression-era levels, with the Federal Reserve projecting that rates will hover around 9.3 percent by the end of 2020.
"This is the biggest economic shock, in the U.S. and the world, really, in living memory," Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said at a news conference in June. "We went from the lowest level of unemployment in 50 years to the highest level in close to 90 years, and we did it in two months."
To economist Pavlina Tcherneva, the pandemic didn't just present the American economy with a unique set of problems, but rather revealed its built-in flaws that have long prevented millions of Americans from securing decent jobs.
In her new book, "The Case for a Job Guarantee", Tcherneva offers an ambitious policy proposal that calls for the federal government to provide living-wage jobs and benefits to anyone willing and able to work.
"At bottom," Tcherneva writes in the book, "the Job Guarantee is a policy of care, one that fundamentally rejects the notion that people in economic distress, communities in disrepair, and an environment in peril are the unfortunate but unavoidable collateral damage of a market economy."
The idea of using federal funding to create jobs isn't new. It's found in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, Franklin D. Roosevelt's proposed Economic Bill of Rights, and was again debated during the Civil Rights Movement. It's also a key component of the Green New Deal, a suite of policy proposals that seeks to aggressively tackle climate change and economic inequality.
In Tcherneva's vision, the Job Guarantee would act as a sort of buffer. Here's a bit on how a Job Guarantee might work in the U.S.:
$15 minimum wage and benefits
Jobs granted through the program would offer at least $15 per hour, and this base wage would remain flexible to match inflation over time. The Job Guarantee would also provide workers with health insurance, paid leave, childcare, and possibly fewer hours than the current 40-hour standard work week.
Establishing standards like these, Tcherneva argues, would pressure private firms to treat and pay workers better, considering that now they'd have more employment options and wouldn't have to settle for poor working conditions.
Jobs would be funded federally, administered locally
Across the U.S., unemployment offices would be converted into employment offices. The unemployed would be able to enter these offices and "leave with a list of employment options, public-service opportunities you'll be able to access locally," Tcherneva told Vox.
What would those jobs look like? Tcherneva offered some examples: performing weatherization on a local hardware store, replacing lead pipes on a construction site, helping out at a homeless shelter, or working on local alternative-energy projects.
The federal government would remain mostly hands off, allowing state and local governments to decide which public projects to pursue, and how to allocate resources.
The program would be 'counter-cyclical'
In the current economic system, unemployment spreads like a virus: people lose their jobs, stop spending money, businesses are forced to shut down, and so on.
A Job Guarantee could act as a buffer that absorbs unemployed people before they fall to the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. And this could help to stabilize the economy during recessions, assuming these workers continued to spend money. As the economy improves, workers could move back to their previous jobs, or to other employment options.
How the U.S. might pay for a Job Guarantee
Tcherneva doesn't deny that a Job Guarantee would require massive public investment, but she notes that what's lacking isn't the money, but political will. What's more, she notes the high social costs of having a large swath of the American workforce remain, more or less, permanently unemployed.
"I came to the Jobs Guarantee from a macroeconomic perspective — the realization that we were using unemployed people as a kind of "buffer stock" to control inflation," she told the Los Angeles Times. "Having unemployed people means that when the economy grows, those people would be there to take those jobs."
"But what if we could use employment as a buffer stock? That's obviously the superior option. I realized that you couldn't just argue about this as a macroeconomic policy, you have to bring in the human rights framework, the moral framework. You have to think about the kind of neglect, the health effects, the pain that unemployment inflicts on people who want to work."
According to projections from the Levy Institute, with which Tcherneva is affiliated, the program would cost about 1.5 percent of the U.S. GDP, boost real GDP by half a trillion dollars, and create 3 to 4 million jobs.
California is requiring all new homes to be built with #solar panels, all public buses to be zero emissions, and is… https://t.co/1wvxLQxfN9— Mike Hudema (@Mike Hudema)1593041549.0
The Job Guarantee proposal has no shortage of critics. What's more, these points are just a brief overview of what the program seeks to establish. But, surprisingly, more Americans seem to support the idea than you may realize.
According to a 2019 poll from The Hill-HarrisX, more than 70 percent of Americans said they would "somewhat" or "strongly" support a federal program that created jobs for the unemployed.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.
- Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
- Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
- It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
A (brief) bloody history<p>Our ancestors understood little about blood. Even the most basic of blood knowledge — blood inside the body is good, blood outside is not ideal, too much blood outside is cause for concern — escaped humanity's grasp for an embarrassing number of centuries.</p><p>Absence this knowledge, our ancestors devised less-than-scientific theories as to what blood was, theories that varied wildly across time and culture. To pick just one, the physicians of Shakespeare's day believed blood to be one of four bodily fluids or "humors" (the others being black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm).</p><p>Handed down from ancient Greek physicians, <a href="https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/shakespeare/fourhumors.html" target="_blank">humorism</a> stated that these bodily fluids determined someone's personality. Blood was considered hot and moist, resulting in a sanguine temperament. The more blood people had in their systems, the more passionate, charismatic, and impulsive they would be. Teenagers were considered to have a <a href="https://wellcomecollection.org/articles/the-humours-in-shakespeare/" target="_blank">natural abundance of blood</a>, and men had more than women.</p><p>Humorism lead to all sorts of poor medical advice. Most famously, Galen of Pergamum used it as the basis for his prescription of bloodletting. Sporting a "when in doubt, let it out" mentality, <a href="https://www.bcmj.org/premise/history-bloodletting" target="_blank">Galen declared blood the dominant humor</a>, and bloodletting an excellent way to balance the body. Blood's relation to heat also made it a go-to for fever reduction.</p><p>While bloodletting remained common until well into the 19th century, William Harvey's discovery of the circulation of blood in 1628 would put medicine on its path to modern hematology.</p><p>Soon after Harvey's discovery, the earliest blood transfusions were attempted, but it wasn't until 1665 that <a href="https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/blood-donation-process/what-happens-to-donated-blood/blood-transfusions/history-blood-transfusion.html" target="_blank">first successful transfusion</a> was performed by British physician Richard Lower. Lower's operation was between dogs, and his success prompted physicians like Jean-Baptiste Denis to try to transfuse blood from animals to humans, a process called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17489860" target="_blank">xenotransfusion</a>. The death of human patients ultimately led to the practice being outlawed.4</p><p>The first successful human-to-human transfusion wouldn't be performed until 1818, when British obstetrician James Blundell managed it to treat postpartum hemorrhage. But even with a proven technique in place, in the following decades many blood-transfusion patients continued to die mysteriously.</p><p>Enter<a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1930/landsteiner-bio.html" target="_blank"> Austrian physician Karl Landsteiner</a>. In 1901 he began his work to classify blood groups. Exploring the work of Leonard Landois — the physiologist who showed that when the red blood cells of one animal are introduced to a different animal's, they clump together — Landsteiner thought a similar reaction may occur in intra-human transfusions, which would explain why transfusion success was so spotty. In 1909, he classified the A, B, AB, and O blood groups, and for his work he received the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.</p>
What causes blood types?<p>It took us a while to grasp the intricacies of blood, but today, we know that this life-sustaining substance consists of:</p><ul><li><a href="https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=34&ContentTypeID=160" target="_blank">Red blood cells</a> — cells that carry oxygen and remove carbon dioxide throughout the body;</li><li>White blood cells — immune cells that protect the body against infection and foreign agents;</li><li>Platelets — cells that help blood clot; and</li><li><a href="https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=160&ContentID=37" target="_blank">Plasma </a>— a liquid that carries salts and enzymes.6,7</li></ul><p>Each component has a part to play in blood's function, but the red blood cells are responsible for our differing blood types. These cells have proteins* covering their surface called antigens, and the presence or absence of particular antigens determines blood type — type A blood has only A antigens, type B only B, type AB both, and type O neither. Red blood cells sport another antigen called the RhD protein. When it is present, a <a href="https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/types-of-blood-donations/blood-types.html" target="_blank">blood type</a> is said to be positive; when it is absent, it is said to be negative. The typical combinations of A, B, and RhD antigens give us the eight common blood types (A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+, and O-).</p><p><a href="https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/genefamily/bloodgroupantigens" target="_blank">Blood antigen proteins</a> play a variety of cellular roles, but recognizing foreign cells in the blood is the most important for this discussion.</p><p>Think of antigens as backstage passes to the bloodstream, while our immune system is the doorman. If the immune system recognizes an antigen, it lets the cell pass. If it does not recognize an antigen, it initiates the body's defense systems and destroys the invader. So, a very aggressive doorman.</p><p>While our immune systems are thorough, they are not too bright. If a person with type A blood receives a transfusion of type B blood, the immune system won't recognize the new substance as a life-saving necessity. Instead, it will consider the red blood cells invaders and attack. This is why so many people either grew ill or died during transfusions before Landsteiner's brilliant discovery.</p><p>This is also why people with O negative blood are considered "<a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/blood-transfusion/expert-answers/universal-blood-donor-type/faq-20058229" target="_blank">universal donors</a>." Since their red blood cells lack A, B, and RhD antigens, immune systems don't have a way to recognize these cells as foreign and so leaves them well enough alone.</p>
How is Rh-null the rarest blood type?<p>Let's return to golden blood. In truth, the eight common blood types are an oversimplification of how blood types actually work. As<a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/your-blood-type-lot-more-complicated-you-think-180951669/?no-ist" target="_blank"> <em>Smithsonian.com </em>points out</a>, "[e]ach of these eight types can be subdivided into many distinct varieties," resulting in millions of different blood types, each classified on a multitude of antigens combinations.</p><p>Here is where things get tricky. The RhD protein previously mentioned only refers to one of 61 potential proteins in the Rh system. Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system. This not only makes it rare, but this also means it can be accepted by anyone with a <a href="https://www.foxnews.com/health/having-the-golden-blood-can-be-dangerous" target="_blank">rare blood type within the Rh system</a>.</p><p>This is why it is considered "golden blood." It is worth its weight in gold.</p><p>As <em>Mosaic</em> reports, golden blood is incredibly important to medicine, but also very dangerous to live with. If a Rh-null carrier needs a blood transfusion, they can find it difficult to locate a donor, and blood is notoriously difficult to transport internationally. Rh-null carriers are encouraged to donate blood as insurance for themselves, but with so few donors spread out over the world and limits on how often they can donate, this can also put an altruistic burden on those select few who agree to donate for others.</p>
Some bloody good questions about blood types<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY5NzA1NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTQ2NzIxM30.rxlFylgiyo13WzY2IIsob2G5F2Y-zXiPYcEXUrg_qoY/img.jpg?width=980" id="5fbc0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="290549c29fe31723b4bd70b0624bcb2e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Nurse drawing blood from patient" />
A nurse takes blood samples from a pregnant woman at the North Hospital (Hopital Nord) in Marseille, southern France.
Photo by BERTRAND LANGLOIS / AFP<p>There remain many mysteries regarding blood types. For example, we still don't know why humans evolved the A and B antigens.<a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-people-have-differ/" target="_blank"> Some theories</a> point to these antigens as a byproduct of the diseases various populations contacted throughout history. But we can't say for sure.</p><p>In this absence of knowledge, various myths and questions have grown around the concept of blood types in the popular consciousness. Here are some of the most common and their answers.</p><p><em><strong>Do blood types affect personality?</strong></em></p><p>Japan's<a href="https://japantoday.com/category/features/lifestyle/the-importance-of-blood-type-in-japanese-culture" target="_blank"> blood type personality theory</a> is a contemporary resurrection of humorism. The idea states that your blood type directly affects your personality, so type A blood carriers are kind and fastidious, while type B carriers are optimistic and do their own thing. However,<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886902001010" target="_blank"> a 2003 study</a> sampling 180 men and 180 women found no relationship between blood type and personality. </p><p>The theory makes for a fun question on a <em>Cosmopolitan</em> quiz, but that's as accurate as it gets.</p><p><em><strong>Should you alter your diet based on your blood type?</strong></em></p><p>Remember Galen of Pergamon? In addition to bloodletting, he also prescribed his patients to eat certain foods depending on which humors needed to be balanced. Wine, for example, was considered a hot and dry drink, so it would be prescribed to treat a cold. In other words, belief that your diet should complement your blood type is yet another holdover of humorism theory.</p><p>Created by Peter J. D'Adamo, the Blood Type Diet argues that one's diet should match one's blood type. Type A carriers should eat a meat-free diet of whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables; type B carriers should eat green vegetables, certain meats, and low-fat dairy; and so on.</p><p>However, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140115172246.htm" target="_blank">a study from the University of Toronto</a> analyzed the data from 1,455 participants and found no evidence to support the theory. While people can lose weight and become healthier on the diet, it probably has more to do with eating all those leafy greens than blood type.</p><p><strong><em>Are there links between blood types and certain diseases</em>?</strong></p><p>There is evidence to suggest that different blood types may increase the risk of certain diseases. <a href="https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20120814/blood-type-may-impact-heart-risk" target="_blank">One analysis</a> suggested that type O blood decreases the risk of having a stroke or heart attack, while AB blood appears to increase it. With that said, <a href="https://obi.org/blood-donation/scientific-facts/" target="_blank">type O carriers</a> have a greater chance of developing peptic ulcers and skin cancer.</p><p>None of this is to say that your blood type will foredoom your medical future. Many factors, such as diet and exercise, hold influence over your health and likely to a greater extent than blood type.</p><p><strong><em>What is the most common blood type?</em></strong></p><p>In the United States, the <a href="http://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org/LGH/Our-Services/Blood-Bank/About-Us/Blood-Type-Frequency.aspx" target="_blank">most common blood type</a> is O+. Roughly one in three people sports this type of blood. Of the eight well-known blood types, the least common is AB-. Only one in 167 people in the U.S. have it.</p><p><strong><em>Do animals have blood types?</em></strong></p><p>They most certainly do, but they are not the same as ours. This difference is why those 17<sup>th</sup>-century patients who thought, "Animal blood, now that's the ticket!" ultimately had their tickets punched. In fact, blood types are distinct between species. Unhelpfully, scientists sometimes use the same nomenclature to describe these different types. <a href="https://animals.howstuffworks.com/animal-facts/do-animals-have-different-blood-types.htm" target="_blank">Cats</a>, for example, have A and B antigens, but these are not the same A and B antigens found in humans.</p><p>Interestingly, xenotransfusion is making a comeback. Scientists are working to genetically engineer the blood of pigs to potentially produce <a href="https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/01/25/ape-human-pig-human-blood-donations-xenotransfusions-work/" target="_blank">human compatible blood</a>.</p><p>Scientists are also looking into creating <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/synthetic-blood-is-about-to-go-through-human-trials_us_58ee654be4b0a3bddb60a645" target="_blank">synthetic blood</a>. If they succeed, they may be able to ease the <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/07/27/blood-donation-amazon-gift-card-american-red-cross/849582002/" target="_blank">current blood shortage</a>, while also devising a way to create blood for rare blood type carriers. While this may make golden blood less golden, it would certainly make it easier to live with.</p> * While antigens are typically proteins, they can be other molecules as well, such as polysaccharides.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.
Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.
Want help raising your kids? Spend more time at church, says new study.
- Religious people tend to have more children than secular people, but why remains unknown.
- A new study suggests that the social circles provided by regular church going make raising kids easier.
- Conversely, having a large secular social group made women less likely to have children.