Job Losses Accelerate, Signaling Deeper Distress"Read More" from IRA STEWARD ON CONSUMPTION AND UNEMPLOYMENT by Dorothy W. Douglas (1932)"...a philosophy of American wages and unemployment that sounds strangely apposite today.":
As reports of layoffs continue to pile up around the country, executives at Randstad said they have noticed a shift in psychology among job seekers.
"Employees are much more willing to work extra hours and to take on additional duties to enhance job security and improve their employability," said Eric Buntin, managing director for marketing and operations at Randstad. "In a changing market, they know that's a valuable resource."
They are also willing to make less money, even as the cost of living goes up. Cline said some call center jobs that were paying $9 an hour in the Tucson area last year are now paying $8.50. "Their option becomes to take the job or not have the job," she said.
"The capitalists are unmindful of the first danger signals, the beginnings of a redundant labor supply. Tacitly they assume that a little surplus labor is good for business...."
Now machinery is only a blessing "provided the wealth more rapidly produced is consumed as fast as days' works are destroyed * . . .but if this blessing is to continue to bless, wages must continue to rise. If wages stop rising, machinery stops blessing." Ultimately "production gains upon consumption." That is the underlying fact. "Wealth is more rapidly produced than consumed in the leading nations ... . This fact combined with the poverty and misery of the rest of mankind [outside the charmed circle] is the mainspring of enforced idleness [within it]. And enforced idleness is the real secret of the financial convulsions and bankruptcy which from time to time sweep over the most prosperous countries of the civilized world." The capitalists are unmindful of the first danger signals, the beginnings of a redundant labor supply. Tacitly they assume that a little surplus labor is good for business. "They do not want the number of unimployed (sic) so large as to occasion inconvenience or the scandall (sic) of starvation, but they are quite alike in the inexpressed wish that the number of unemployed (sic) shall be so large that those employed shall have as little power as possible to dictate the terms of their employment." This is especially their attitude at a time when wages are rising and business is still brisk.
"An unemployed man is the most deadly fact that exists outside of a graveyard."
But "when the first laborer is discharged, he stops buying." And from then on his powers for evil multiply indefinitely. Then begins "the deadly but natural competition existing between those who are employed and those who are not." "An unemployed man is the most deadly fact that exists outside of a graveyard. He is the source of all that is bad ... . Without raising his hand, he takes far more bread from others than he himself can eat .... more clothes than he can ever wear .... more opportunities than he alone could improve."
He makes his fellows, who are still at work, willing to work for longer hours (". . . . the deadly competition between those who have nothing to do and those who do too much for fear of doing nothing") as well as lower wages ("Discharges must occur first, before wages can fall to any appreciable or serious extent"); and besides, he makes them afraid to spend what little they have. "The most cautious and calculating laborers, who are not themselves discharged, are sufficiently alarmed by the first few discharges that occur about them to wait before buying ....... Meanwhile the individual employer is helpless to stem the tide. "The capitalist is forced to discharge today, for the blunders of his class five or ten years ago.'"