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Full Employment… how a modern economy should operate.

Good ideas are rare these days. Most of what we hear as a new idea is usually one rebranded from long ago and dollied up to sound so refreshing, so original we forget it has been around for decades, even centuries.

The concept of full employment is not new. It has been around for as long as anyone alive can remember, but despite being one that is both economically fundamental and relatively easy to implement, it has not been on the list of policy preferences of any political party since the 1970s.

One might be forgiven for thinking that a catch-cry like, ‘Jobs and Growth’ would be the natural introduction to a policy of full employment, but it isn’t.

In fact, ‘Jobs and Growth’ could well be described as the headline act of a snake oil salesman. It sounds as if it holds the secret to a bold new initiative to get people back to work, all 700,000+.

It does nothing of the sort. There is not a single item within its obscure, deceptive slogan that in any way could be described as putting people back to work and growing the economy in a way that everyone would benefit.

Leigh Sales put the very vagueness of its nature to Malcolm Turnbull on ABC’s 7.30 last week and he was unable to give it any more than a sugar-coated covering of elusive, indefinable, broad strokes that detailed nothing and explained nothing.

But we know the concept of full employment can be explained, can be itemised and can be demonstrated. It is how a modern economy should operate. If our politicians would do what they are paid to do and work for the common good, it could all happen.

maxresdefault The mechanics of Full Employment or the Job Guarantee as it is often referred to, is outlined in the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) website which explains how it can be implemented. It answers any questions that might arise including how it would be paid for, its inflationary impact and how the jobs are created.

The founder of CofFEE is Bill Mitchell, Professor of Economics at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, and a notable proponent of Modern Monetary Theory. He is a noted author of several books on macroeconomics and his book, ‘Full Employment Abandoned: Shifting Sands and Policy Failures’ co-written with Joan Muysken of Maastricht University contends that unemployment is a reflection of systemic policy failures, rather than any individual problem.

One would have thought that a policy of full employment would be centre stage of any political party, but it is not. The reason being that it interferes with the utterly immoral, neo-liberal idea that a certain level of unemployment is necessary to control wages growth.

Therefore, the push for full employment will have to come from the people and there is no better time to create that push than a federal election.

The ‘My Big Idea’ program initiated by the Australian Futures Project provides the opportunity for a grass roots idea to be given maximum coverage if it receives enough votes.

I have submitted a proposal for full employment based on Professor Mitchell’s model. So, in effect, it is not my idea, it is his and is one that would benefit the entire nation. It should be supported.

full_employment If you agree, you can vote for this idea here. You could also share it among friends as far and as wide as our nation allows. Full employment means a job for everyone who wants one. That should not be seen as a privilege but as a basic human right.

If this submission is voted one of the top ten, it will receive nationwide exposure and will have been a worthwhile exercise. From there, politicians can choose to do something about it, or ignore it at their peril. It’s up to you.




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  1. Oscar

    Lets keep call centres like Westpac, Telstra, and Vodafone and whoever offshores their Australian business overseas in Australia . It’s counter productive and it should be illegal. It’s also non patriotic.

  2. Jack Russell

    Tried to vote but it wouldn’t accept my details as correct. Went directly to the site and tried again but it froze when I hit submit. Oh well…

    I fully support Full Employment a’la Bill Mitchell, or anyone who espouses it.

    I despise any sovereign currency issuing government who CHOOSES not to, and take it as proof that they are not ethical, not fit to govern, or hold any other position of authority in public life.

  3. Jexpat.

    The very last thing that neoliberals want is full employment.

  4. Arthur Plottier

    The concept will work reasonable well if there was no so much red tape and bureaucracy and the HR people way of thinking.
    At the present time, as an example, a unemployed person that have good qualifications will struggle to find a job where his/her qualifications are not needed because he/she is “overqualified”
    A person that have some kind of disability will struggle to find a job because insurance costs and another excuses.
    Every week there are thousand of people that have not considered in their job applications because some kinds of discrimination.
    I am not sure in Australian, but OS, in Latin American countries where I have experience people who gained employment in the government in exchange for votes are unproductive.
    Income warranty does not work IMO
    As it is now, regarding red tape and regulations, I would prefer the option of education and training for a specific purpose to suit the individual to gain a job or start a micro business than employ people by the government to take them for the unemployment benefit.
    In some areas “barefoot economics” can be the solution where the individual have to be productive to earn his/her income.

  5. michaelattoowoomba

    Thanks John,great article,as usual.Thanks for link Big Idea site.I have signed up.Big fright though,when confirmation email arrived labelled A.F.P.,took a couple of seconds to realise ,AUS Futures Project.I would presume most AIM posters and supporters will [should ] get involved.Put L N P Last on all of our voting slips. M F

  6. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks John,

    for advocating Modern Monetary Theory and I voted for your Big Idea. Even as I write this, I can hear Malcolm Muck waffling about sustainable budget so we can afford health and education. His idea of sustainable is to cut services and infrastructure in other essential areas. With MMT, everything is possible without having to ‘Rob Peter to pay Paul’.

  7. Max Gross

    “…unemployment is a reflection of systemic policy failures”. Exactly. As just about anyone trapped on the dole in the absurd, pointless and punitive Jobactive and Newstart three-ring-circus can attest to.

  8. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes Max,

    forget the LNP Degenerates coz they’re LOSERS
    but encourage Labor to see the Big Picture of full employment
    while wiping the disgrace of Jobactive and restrictive elements of Newstart OFF the face of the Earth.

  9. silkworm

    A couple of months ago, Bill Shorten told the 7.30 Report that he wanted to see unemployment reduced to an acceptable level, but when pressed by Leigh Sales, Bill hesitated as if he hadn’t thought about an exact figure beforehand, but did eventually but halfheartedly offer the figure of 5%, which I thought was pretty lame.

  10. totaram

    As pointed out by Bill Mitchell, “full employment” is declared when even 5% are unemployed, because of the concept of NAIRU invented by the neo-liberals. You can read about it here:

    NAIRU mantra prevents good macroeconomic policy

  11. Sean Crawley

    Thank you for the article. I always look forward to your enlightening perspectives on economics, they help to confirm my gut feeling that we are being fed a whole heap of cowdung by business, government and the mainstream media. Lately I have heard many claims that Australia could not survive without foreign investment, and I get the whiff of bovine excrement every time. Can you please expose/explain this for me?

  12. John Kelly

    Sean, if foreigners want to invest in our country they are, and should be, welcome. They create jobs and add value to our GDP. Their profits should also be taxed. HAVING SAID THAT, if we had zero foreign investment, it should not bother us in the slightest. We can always fund the same projects that foreign investment does and create the same number of jobs and profit doing it. What is the difference between government creating money to fund a fast rail project, and foreign money doing the same. The answer: if we fund it, we own it.

  13. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear John.

  14. Daniel Huppert

    My name is Daniel Huppert. I am running as an independent candidate in this election for the seat of Aston. 100% Full employment is absolutely centre stage for me in my policies…. and I do have the economic policies that could create the economic environment that will promote full employment.

  15. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Daniel Huppert,

    what are your thoughts on the Modern Monetary Theory, please?

  16. Pingback: Full Employment… how a modern economy should operate. | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

  17. jimhaz

    [Sean, if foreigners want to invest in our country they are, and should be, welcome. They create jobs and add value to our GDP]

    I do not believe that they create jobs or add value to our GDP over the long term – to me that only applies to developing countries. Over a long term economic cycle I would bet we are losing and this meme that OS investment creates jobs is one promoted by the wealthy as they like to have the freedom to shift money around the world to the areas that provide the greatest percentage return on investment. OS investment initially creates jobs in the preferred export or capital gains industries like property, but makes it harder for jobs to be created in other areas. Long term the accumulated loss of profit income means fewer jobs.

    Foreign investment is not welcome for me, though it can be acceptable in terms of bonds for really large major gov infrastructure like the Snowy scheme. I see it as one of the lures of the neocons.

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