Friday, March 11, 2016

A Path to the Future part one- Jobs

The news these days is so stupid and without real interest, that I have to write about something else, or my blog will die an ignoble death.  I want to start with some straight talk about jobs.  As usual, this involves obvious truths that no one licensed to speak in the mainstream press dares utter in public.

And let's start with the main truth:  The jobs are never coming back.  I remember a couple of decades ago, as the "information revolution" was getting going, how all the supposed experts assured us that technology would generate more jobs than it eliminated.  This universally acknowledged "truth" was, I always thought, one of the stupidest notions I have ever heard.  Whatever new jobs were created, why would a business go to the massive expense of investing in new technology unless it cut their end costs; and replacing manufacturing jobs with more expensive high tech jobs cannot possibly do that.  So, even if we succeed in bringing back a portion of the jobs that we have allowed big business to send overseas, we are never going to be in a situation where there are enough jobs to go around; at least not what are currently defined as real jobs; i.e. work that makes money for someone else.

So what is the answer?

There are a couple of absolutely necessary short term solutions.  First of all, the work week must be cut, and without just screwing tighter the pressure on workers to ramp up "productivity" so their bosses don't have to pay for any of it.  It is my proposal that the United States begin transitioning to a four day work week.  And that is not the four ten hour days that some have suggested, but four eight hour days.  I suggest we do this by first declaring a three day weekend every month.  Then, in five years, we should transition to a three day weekend every other week; finally in five more years going to a four day work week every week.  In return for this, I propose an across the board cut of 10% in wages.  People who cannot tolerate this decrease will have an extra day every week to find a way to make up the difference, or perhaps to start some business of their own.

Next, it is essential to shorten the work life of American workers.  Current vicious proposals to increase the retirement age to 70, or more, are not only cruel to the victims of these proposals, but they are destructive to young people who cannot find work due to older people being forced to stay in the workforce.  So, I propose cutting the retirement age to 60.  As a corollary to this, Social Security payments must be increased to insure that retired people do not sink into little more than penury.  This must, of course, be paid for by the essential confiscation of a large part of the wealth of the hyper-rich, but really, who cares about them?

What I am proposing here is, of course, spreading the remaining work around to as many people as possible.  Given the future that any fool can see coming, there is (I think) no other short term answer to the now permanent work shortage in first world countries.

In the end, of course, we must destroy the notion that you are only really working if you are making money for a rich guy.  That, of course, is a whole other story, and will inevitably come down to the adoption of some sort of minimum national income, if we are not to have hundreds of millions of what the Communists used to call the "lumpen proletariat" wandering around in the country, without a single reason to care about the welfare of anyone but themselves.  But even such short term measures to address the problem, inevitably along the lines I suggested above, will provide welcome relief to masses of Americans who are now effectively locked out of participation in the economic life they deserve.


Sam240 said...

"In return for this, I propose an across the board cut of 10% in wages. People who cannot tolerate this decrease will have an extra day every week to find a way to make up the difference, or perhaps to start some business of their own." - Green Eagle

Do you know anyone who already has to work two jobs in order to live, or are you stuck in your own little bubble?

If you have someone whose two jobs total 60 hours a week, they don't have an extra day to make up the difference. If you knock them down to 48 hours and reduce their income by 10%, they have to go up to 53 hours to make up the lost money, and they'll still be working seven days a week.

People are protesting for a living wage, and here you go trying to make the poor poorer by driving their wages down instead. It would make more sense to increase wages; that way, the two jobs that one person needs in order to live could then be given to two people.

[Furthermore, cutting wages by 10% will reduce overall demand in the economy, leading to even fewer jobs available, which reduces consumer income even further, leading to another decline in overall demand, and so forth. Have you seen how austerity measures have failed in Europe? They've led to the same vicious circle I'm describing - government austerity makes the economy worse, leading to lower tax revenue, leading to even more austerity. It's just like your overall wage cuts.]

Do you know any students, or do you live in a bubble? Including holidays, the school year lasts 40 weeks already. It takes time for people to learn things. If you cut the school week from five days to four, without changing the length of the school day, you would have to make a school year last for 50 weeks. Are you going to abolish the family vacation for everybody with children in their family? Some teachers have to take classes during the summer to maintain their standing; if you make them teach for 50 weeks, when are they going to take the classes?

I do, however, approve of your proposal to lower the retirement age. I know people whose bodies are in bad shape by 60 due to working at hard jobs for 42 years; making them work longer before retirement won't do them any good.

"Given the future that any fool can see coming," - Green Eagle

I don't think that's true. Most members of the GOP establishment are fools, and they generally have no clue what's coming.

Green Eagle said...

As usual, you didn't really read a word of my post. You only looked for something that you could attack, not even caring that your point is totally ludicrous. I am for reducing the working week to 32 hours, as I clearly said, not making people work 60 hours. You are either illiterate or a lying idiot.

Sam240 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Green Eagle said...

Enough for a while, Sam. I won't let my readers waste their time on your lies. I'm going to start deleting your comments.

Zog said...

I hope you don't take this the wrong way . . .

but . . .

are you now or have you ever been a member of the engineering profession?

Green Eagle said...


joseph said...

This is a big issue that nobody talks about. Over 40 years ago, Robert Theobald said that the goal of any economy should be 100% unemployment, let the machines do the work. A couple of years ago, Kevin Drum noticed that it was happening
Then a few months ago, a Rice University robotics professor said it was happening sooner than you think
I hate to agree with Sam, but what we have to do is recognize that labor is becoming more and more irrelevant. The problem is how to distribute goods in an economy without workers. Clearly the idea that the owners of the machines will have all the money is absurd, the economy simply can't work in such a scenario. The idea that more training is the solution is simply ridiculous. Training for what? There is a book called, "Race Against the Machine" in which the authors recognize the problem, but drop back to the training mantra. The issue, as Vardi says, is how to make use of the leisure time. This is an important issue and we, I mean the whole world, needs to start focusing on it.

Anonymous said...

That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of, but not surprising coming from an idiot like you. Do you know what Math means?

Marc said...

And on the education/free market front in Oklahoma:

Green Eagle said...

Man, what a great new height in Republican irrationality. For those who will not go to the link, here is an excerpt:

"OKLAHOMA CITY - After the State Senate passed a controversial bill proposing to deregulate portions of public schools on Thursday, groups on either side of the issue started a political fight that put teachers and students in the crossfire.

The bill numbered SB1187, or the School District Empowerment Act, removes 12 state standards that public schools have to follow. Those standards include having certified teachers, and paying teachers the state minimum salary. The bill also allows schools to loosen some restrictions on background checks.

I love the notion of extending the miserable Republican notion of "deregulation" to cover allowing the public schools to deteriorate into an absolutely useless resource.