Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Employment for All: A Debate

Alex of Christian Economics is a thoughtful guy who adheres to some economic theories (specifically the Modern Money Theory of economics) that I don't hold with. Thus marking out one of my rare areas of agreement with Paul Krugman.

Alex and I were looking for topics to have a sort of slow-motion blog debate over, and there seems no better place to start than one of the bigger policy proposals which many MMT adherents support: having the government become an Employer of Last Resort. Alex has a substantive post up to day making the case for an employer of last resort program from a Catholic and economic point of view. I'll be writing and posting reply-post in the next couple days.


Marie said...

As a family struggling with underemployment, this is a terrifying prospect.

One of the problems with our economy before the bust was the number of imaginary jobs.

Now we think the solution is to make up more.

There is no reason why we should have any unemployment in a reality-based world. We are in a nation with more resources and more information than any culture in the history of the world. All we have to do is each contribute enough productivity to be able to swap back and forth to maintain a good standard of living. But we have to be willing to define "good standard of living" as a life with love, family, peace, full tummies and a roof over our heads instead of a life full of Walmart gadgets. And we have to produce -- actually produce -- things and services of value.

This idea falls in with the Belloc and Chesterton ideas about how large monopolistic corporations use labor mercilessly but can't look like they are doing so -- people need to have 1. a lifestyle they approve of and 2. a sense of security or they will rebel against being wage slaves with no control over the means of production. To date, we have achieved that by importing cheap goods for a "happy happy" lifestyle; then the government gives us unemployment insurance and the growing economy gave us some sense of security. But after the bust, where people saw employers could dump them after 30 years for being too old despite labor laws and inflation meant less distracting garbage could be bought, we need more. So the government is a fallback employer and everyone feels secure, at least.

It's not the job of *my* government to appease me into continuing with a status quo that is destructive to my humanity.

Better the dole than this. At least people have a vague sense of not wanting to be on the dole. This is the kind of program that will shunt every job eventually into the public sector, and it can last forever. Already, most of the people I know who draw a middle class salary do so in part through public funding (police, teachers, county workers, parks officials, lobbyists, defense contractors, defense engineers, university educators, grant writers). The few I know who don't work in health care, and that's moving to the public sector soon.

Tausign said...

"The dignity of work, it seems to me, stems from doing work which actually provides value either to you or to others."

Your counterpart in the debate is hopelessly lost. Early in the last century people dreamed of a utopia where work was unnecessary as machines would provide for us. Silly as that sounds, his ideas aren't far behind.

I suppose we can do ELR for some time (until we realize it's unsustainable) but it's main flaw is that it detracts from a healthy recovery.

Tausign said...

Ooops! The quote I inserted above is from your subsequent post. Didn't realize I was commenting one post below.