Thursday, December 3, 2009

More Dean

On The Arena at POLITICO:

"In November, voters are going to be thinking about jobs. If the unemployment rate is over 10.0 percent, as is widely projected, there is little doubt that they will blame the Democrats. This means that he must start generating jobs quickly. Fortunately, we know how to do this. If the United States were to go the route of work sharing, using flexible employment credits to provide an incentive to employers to reduce work hours while leaving pay unchanged, then we can quickly get back to more levels of employment.

"The basic logic is very simple. If everyone works 5 percent fewer hours, then we need 5 percent more workers. That would translate into 7 million additional jobs in an economy with 140 million workers. We don't have to speculate as to whether this policy can work. We already know that it can. Germany has suffered a sharper drop in output than the United States, yet its unemployment rate is 7.6 percent, the same as it was before the downturn. In the United States we are experiencing the recession with 15 million people unemployed, in Germany they are experiencing the recession in the form of shorter workweeks and longer vacations.

"President Obama can also do something to make the (honest) deficit hawks happy. He can impose a tax on financial speculation. The sort of short-term trading that helped get us into these mess. A modest tax on this speculation can easily raise more than $1 trillion over the next decade, while helping to make the financial markets more stable.

"Resetting towards an agenda that creates jobs quickly and kicks Wall Street speculators in the face will make President Obama and the Democrats very popular next November."


Min said...

"The basic logic is very simple. If everyone works 5 percent fewer hours, then we need 5 percent more workers."

Not that I am against the idea of shorter work hours, but that is not basic logic. If everyone works 5 percent fewer hours, then we need *up to* 5 percent more workers (without creating new businesses). For instance, if retail stores shut down for a one hour siesta after lunch and did so uniformly (so that they would not lose business to competitors) then they would decrease work hours by up to 12.5% without creating any new jobs.

Sandwichman said...


Technically you're right. I would go a step further and say that with the amount of superfluous employment there is in the U.S. today it would be possible to cut working hours in half and still not create any net new jobs. The same principle applies to ANY 'job creation' strategy that might be proposed. Nevermind the deck chairs, mates, we've ALREADY hit the fucking iceberg.

Lifeboats? This ship was unsinkable. There aren't any stinking lifeboats.

All that's really left to do now is an imaginative exercise in what we might have done -- starting, say, 40 years ago -- to avoid hitting the iceberg.

Jared said...

It is time to bring our economy out of the stone age and into modern times. We shouldn't pursue employment. That is caveman thinking. We should pursue liberation from employment.

Most jobs can be eliminated with existing automation technology without decreasing GDP.

The only jobs people should be doing are the kind of jobs people would do for free: caring for others, science and art or whatever else people find fun, worthy and interesting.

To do this, just make everyone a millionaire. Pay every adult an income of $25k per year. And increase their income $1500 per year. This can be completely funded by using existing federal income taxes.

For more info on an economy that pursues wealth and technology visit it is actually an online version of the board game Risk but promotes this philosophy as part of the game's theme.

wordy said...

Hi Tom!
Continuing our debate. So Dean says: "in Germany they are experiencing the recession in the form of shorter workweeks and longer vacations."
Well, that's a very deceptive formulation. You know what Kurzarbeit is - a measure to offer a shorter workweek now so it can be rescinded again when the good times are back. Actually, in contrast to the U.S., the average workweek has increased in Germany in the years before the crisis hit. Vacations are, however, still a lot longer here than in the U.S.

And Dean fudges the government revenue issue. Taxing speculation so deficit hawks can be appeased? That means that you have to make sure that there will always be a lot of speculation to tax! You can't fool a deficit terrorist with verbiage like that. Much better to increase speculation by eliminating taxes on it in order to ensure that the real economy will have ever more work to do to finance the financiers! Now that's a job creation plan!

Sandwichman said...

Hi wordy!

"Continuing our debate..." I told you, your time is up. If you want to continue the debate, you'll have to pay another five pounds.