●The more budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes.
●Austerity starves the economy to feed the government, and leads to civil disorder.
●Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
●To survive long term, a monetarily non-sovereign government must have a positive balance of payments.
●Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
In two recent posts, we discussed “disemployment,” the fact that increased automation has made, and will continue to make, human work-for-money less needed:
The new paradigm: Disemployment. Less work; more life.
New Paradigm II: What are your plans for the Age of Disemployment?
Although many people enjoy their jobs, the vast majority work because they want money. This vast majority did not grow up saying, “I hope I can have a boss I must please by doing whatever he/she says.” They did not say, “I want to sit in an office cubicle all day, five days a week, or stand in front of a machine, or carry packages, or dig holes or be criticized.”
The vast majority did not grow up hoping one day they would be required to smile at irritable people, or continually to repeat the same words, or wake up early to meet someone else’s schedule, then ride public transportation, or drive through traffic jams in bad weather or be allowed to go away just two weeks out of the whole year.
The vast majority did grow up hoping one day they would lie awake at night, praying for customers, or for a good evaluation, or not to be fired.
No, the vast majority would like the freedom to do as they wished, under circumstances they enjoy – and for the vast majority, that does not mean having to work for money.
“The New Paradigm II” said: When our leaders create plans for curing unemployment, your question should be, “What are your plans for making my life and my children’s lives more enjoyable, more comfortable, safer, healthier — better? What are your plans for the coming age of disemployment?“
Today, I saw an article in the Global Intersection, titled Labor Costs: A Smaller Factor in Globalization
Two key quotes from the article:
A new wave of robots, far more adept than those now commonly used by automakers and other heavy manufacturers, are replacing workers around the world in both manufacturing and distribution.
Labor costs are no longer a primary factor in determining where business should locate.
More advanced computers are, and will continue to, replace human labor. Yet, what is the single, most important issue being debated befor the coming election? Human unemployment. See anything wrong with that?
I sometimes feel as though our politicians live in another universe – a universe where nothing changes – and the goal is to solve the problems of yesterday. With the development of ever smarter robots, the days of full employment are gone, forever. Disemployment is the new norm.
If today’s 8.2% national unemployment level bothers you, wait until tomorrow, when disemployment really kicks in, and 20%, 30%, 50% of those wanting money will not be able to work for money. What is Congress’s and the President’s plan for that eventuality? Raise taxes? Cut spending? Create laws against computers?
Let’s begin with three facts:
1. Most Americans work primarily to obtain dollars.
2. Americans use dollars to acquire life necessities and indulgences.
3. The U.S. government has the unlimited ability to create dollars.
Put them together and you have the beginnings of a solution: The federal government should provide more dollars for life necessities and even indulgences, with less requirement for human labor.
Yes, of course, if no one worked, nothing would be done and we’d all starve. But we’re not talking about no one working. We’re talking about working less, and enjoying life more.
And yes, some people love their work. No problem; they can continue to work, if they can find it. And yes, some people may choose not to work at all. No problem; they can live the life non-work affords.
Now for the reality of the majority: Given previous points #1, #2 and #3, we can consider how we might plan for the inevitable disemployment:
1. Legally reduce the traditional 40 hour work week to 30 hours and less.
2. Prevent hunger for lack of dollars. The government could provide for everyone’s basic food supplies by paying grocery stores to offer free milk, meat, fish and vegetables.
3. Provide health care for everyone. The government could pay for 100% Medicare for every American of all ages.
4. Keep people from suffering homelessness. The government to pay for home mortgages at a minimum level (Rather than “minimum wage,” we could have “minimum home mortgage,” where people could add dollars for more expensive homes. Or “minimum rent,” something akin to the government paying for hotel stays).
5. Just as today we provide free education, grades 1-12, the government should provide free college and advanced degree education to every American.
6. Begin with government-paid-for local, public transportation, then expand this by paying airlines and railroads for free national public transportation.
We began this discussion with three facts. There is a fourth fact: Disemployment is the future. As winter follows fall, nothing will stop it.
At first blush, some ideas may seem outlandish, if based on yesterday’s employment reality. But, disemployment already has begun. The coming years will continue to see less and less need for human labor. We can close our eyes to change, and follow the increasingly obsolete “full-employment” paradigm. Or we can begin to discuss ways to meet this challenge.
Summer has ended. Fall has just begun. We can buy heavy clothing for winter – clothing which may seem outlandish based on yesterday’s warm reality – or we can ignore the occasional chilly breeze, and allow ourselves to freeze when the snow falls.
Disemployment is not an “if.” It’s a “when” and the when is upon us. We can rail against the cold, or we can prepare. We should stop looking at unemployment as a problem to be solved, but rather as an eventuality and an opportunity to loosen the binds of obligatory labor.
How would you make disemployment work?
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Nine Steps to Prosperity:
1. Eliminate FICA (Click here)
2. Medicare — parts A, B & D — for everyone
3. Send every American citizen an annual check for $5,000 or give every state $5,000 per capita (Click here)
4. Long-term nursing care for everyone
5. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
6. Salary for attending school (Click here)
7. Eliminate corporate taxes
8. Increase the standard income tax deduction annually
9. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America
No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia. Two key equations in economics:
Federal Deficits – Net Imports = Net Private Savings
Gross Domestic Product = Federal Spending + Private Investment and Consumption – Net Imports
4 thoughts on “–How would you make disemployment work?”
‘Full employment’ is another of those Humpty Dumpty terms that means different things to different people.
You are right that the machinery is getting more productive and needs less labour, and arguably it has been able to produce pretty much everything we *need* for years already.
And we want that to continue so that more of the basics of life are taken care of with even more sophisticated machines.
‘Full employment’ might be better termed ‘full engagement’ and the idea there is that everybody has a living income and everybody who wants something to do has something to do that is considered worthwhile by all parties. And there still needs to be some sort of reciprocity in the distribution system because we can’t get rid of *all* the human work just yet. Effort still needs to be rewarded in some.
For many people retirement or lack of work is difficult and there needs to be structures in place in society to make sure that people are constantly engaged. Not everybody in the system is a self-starter. Many people only thrive when told what to do (those in the miltary for example).
The main problem is that a market system starts to break down at this point.
Agreed. Any specific recommendations?
50 years ago the disemployment you describe was envisioned as a vast improvement in quality of life for the working man. That was in the midst of a massive improvement of living standards as a significant portion of productivity improvement was accruing to labor. The extrapolation to an idyllic future from the trend at that time painted a very attractive picture.
About 30 years ago the return of productivity advancments to labor were drastically curtailed and in recent years the gains have largely gone to capital. Now the result of disemployment is not the long ago envisioned life style of increased leisure with income to pay for it. Now the result is compounded economic distress on the working class and vastly increased wealth to the capital class.
It is obvious that there should be some sort of balance of benefit across society when the result of society action produces increased wealth. But that is not the way humans work – whomever gains an advantage will use it to subjugate all others. That is true of labor unions in a time of labor shortage and it is true of business owners in a time of labor surplus.
Both of these exercises of power end up defeating the best interests of the parties in whom the power has become concentrated.
I can think of few justifications of power in government than to provide “rules of the game” to keep all parties in as strong a position as possible without undue detriment to the other.
Government should be a referee, not a cheerleader for one class or the other.
Many politicians have devolved into cheerleaders rather than referees and that is one reason why incumbents keep getting re-elected to a Congress that has 10% (or is it 15%) approval rating. Voters like their cheerleader but they do not like the outcome of a game with no referees.
Now that’s a lot of wind to say that your proposal is a good one to establish a standardized 36 hour working week (or alternatively an alternating 3 and 4 day week – Crew A – and a 4 and 3 day week – Crew B) for each job in a 7 day a week business.
If the logic above is too hard to follow that has people working 7 days every two weeks.
oh, rodger, you forgot to mention that cool term you coined in your last post on this topic, the QLG. it has a nice ring to it…
also, i believe that “QLG” should include a commitment on the part of congress to drastically ramp up spending to advance “quality-of-life” technologies, as opposed to the “destruction-of-life” technologies that they seemed preoccupied with these days.
i’d like to see them advance technology to the point where practically all “physical” labor will be unnecessary and you have computers and robots doing all the work. the few jobs left for humans to do will be “intellectual labor.” of course, people can always do physical labor for themselves if they so choose, but they won’t HAVE to do it for someone else in order to eat, as the overwhelming majority of us have to do now.
at that point, the “government” (or what would be left of it) would have very little need for labor from the public and, therefore, would no longer need to issue currency.