Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mark Gongloff — Ken Fisher, Billionaire Forbes Writer, Attempts To Argue That The U.S. Needs Fewer Jobs


Despite all the cat calls he is getting, Ken Fisher is correct on this. The goal should be to eliminate working for a wage through technological innovation that increases productivity, eliminating repetitive work, rather than to create more of it because of some moral norm that says everyone needs to work to earn their keep, Genesis 3:19 notwithstanding. This is going to take a revision in the basic structure of the cultural paradigm. The faster we get to it, the better of we will be.

Of course, this means revising how we think about distributed prosperity. Clearly, wage income cannot remain paramount in such a system. This implies a rethinking of economics as it stands and the introduction of new economic paradigm along with the new cultural paradigm, and the development of new institutional arrangements to support it. Humanity is now in a position to begin contemplating this transition.

The Huffington Post
Ken Fisher, Billionaire Forbes Writer, Attempts To Argue That The U.S. Needs Fewer Jobs
Mark Gongloff

33 comments:

Ryan Harris said...

How will people obtain money to buy the goods and services needed from the companies?

Tom Hickey said...

That's what a new paradigm needs to deal with. The present paradigm is based on market allocation of scarce resources based on income with income coming from work. That would have to change.

There are essentially two ways to do this, all at once or gradually. I think it will happen gradually, as the mixed economy was evolved to deal with issue that capitalism gave rise too.

Now we are at another juncture like this.

Neil Wilson said...

"Clearly, wage income cannot remain paramount in such a system."

It can, but you have to expand what you mean by a 'wage'.

People will always need something to do. It's the something to do that attracts a wage that needs to change.

As I keep saying, capitalism needs breast feeding advisors to survive.

If it prevents them coming about then the paradox of productivity will ensure that profits go down.

paul said...

"How will people obtain money to buy the goods and services needed from the companies?"

This leads to the Paradox of Productivity Neil refers to…

…As productivity increases so does unemployment…continue to the logical end and businesses have no one to sell to…capitalism fails as it favors the parasite above the host, which we would expect without some kind of government intervention.

Tom Hickey said...

Neil It can, but you have to expand what you mean by a 'wage'.

Right, I am presupposing capitalism's definition of "wage." Just as capitalism was modified into mixed economies, so too "wage," "work," "labor market," "labor share," will also have to modified to adapt to changing times. We should be adapting quickly to take advantage of opportunity rather than sticking to outmoded ideas and institutional arrangements that are holding us back.

This can be a gradual process once we realize that the old rules are no longer working the way they did. Moreover, different localities can explore different options.

BTW, the results of different kinds of mixed economies are coming in pretty strong now, and the US is falling behind on most measures other than the size of the economy, which masks performance and satisfaction slipping relatively.

frlbane said...

Clearly, wage income cannot remain paramount in such a system. Mark Gonloff

Without the government backed/enforced counterfeiting cartel, the banking system, would not businesses have had to pay their workers with common stock? And would not the workers benefit from automation and outsourcing or at least be able to vote against them as stock holders?

It all goes back to the banks?

Malmo's Ghost said...

I probably won't be alive to see it, but I envision a significantly shorter work week if we are to have any notion of full employment. I think Tom makes a very important point regarding wage labor, and I hope that can be fleshed out over time.

I also think that leisure is a forgotten individual good, and that will surely be an offshoot of less work. Leisure aids in helping individuals develop as thoughtful, constructive and involved citizens. We are what we do. If all we do is work, eat, sleep and partake of the empty cultural bromides in place that allows us to veg out then we will be miserable dullards, and society will suffer accordingly.

Like it or not profound change (specifically change in how we work) is going to happen in a planet of 7 billion inhabitants, many of which are desiring the hamster wheel existence prevalent in America. We can either willing choose a better, more sustainable path or nature will impose it on us. I'm hoping for the former.

http://www.academyofleisuresciences.com/

geerussell said...

would not businesses have had to pay their workers with common stock? And would not the workers benefit from automation and outsourcing or at least be able to vote against them as stock holders?

Why would anyone want something as vital as their main source of income to be as volatile and risky as the common stock of a single firm? (I can't buy groceries this week because some jackwagon started a rumor on yahoo that tanked the share price. wtf?) (hmm, retain my voting rights or braces for the kids... decisions, decisions)

In the real-world case of retirement plans where many firms actually do offer to compensate you in shares of the company, financial advisors tend to counsel against putting more than a few eggs in that one basket.

paul said...

"It all goes back to the banks?" - fribane

Banks fund incremental growth, that should be all that they do. They should be be boring, public enterprises. Hello? MR?

Banks have betrayed their main fiduciary responsibilities and have been using their lending power to extract net money out of the economy, leaving the rest of us holding the unsatisfiable liabilities.

This is nothing new, banks have always jockeyed for this position whereby they control access to capital.

We keep making the same mistake over and again in giving them any of our trust, which they will always abuse. These are largely sociopaths we're talking about.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Two easy to read books for folks sick of the workerist centric rat race:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/096548341X/qid=1084535046/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/104-4396910-0896717?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1580085520/ref=nosim/ernie-zelinski-20


I read these ten years ago (in my early 40's) and have never looked back.

frlbane said...

Why would anyone want something as vital as their main source of income to be as volatile and risky as the common stock of a single firm? geerussell

1) Common stock would not be so volatile in price without our current government-backed credit cartel whereby money ("credit") is lent into existence and is destroyed as it is repaid. Instead, common stock would be measured against a slowly but continually growing fiat money supply and by the real goods and services it could buy.

2) Holding companies could issue common stock money and thereby eliminate the risk of lack of diversification.

3) Workers could choose to be paid with fiat too and with genuine liberty in private money creation that fiat should retain its purchasing power well.

Malmo's Ghost said...

The Pursuit Of Happiness

http://www.context.org/iclib/ic37/hunnicut/

Dan Kervick said...

I think whatever level of output our society seeks to maintain, and with whatever technological means, there will always be a substantial amount of human effort involved in producing it, and the social contract will always involve an exchange for some of the output in exchange for providing some of that effort.

Now maybe the total volume of human work effort will go down, but that doesn't mean the total number of jobs will go down. Rather, each job will just be easier and require less of a work contribution. Even if life becomes much easier, the issue of fairness doesn't go away. Society will always need to distinguish free riders and slackers from those who are contributing their fair share of effort, no matter what we deem that fair share to be. The institution of the "job" is the system that will be used for accounting for, allocating and reckoning that share. This applies whether we are talking about a capitalist economy or a socialist one.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Wage labor in order to survive is pretty much the only game in town. There is no scientific basis for its continued existence, however. That's merely a value judgement. The dis-empowering nature of wage labor and or division of labor has been well documented by many prominent intellectuals. There is no necessary reason that this dynamic has to proceed in the same fashion that we've become accustomed to. There can still be a functioning economy absent a 40 hour work week and wage driven income disparity. Perhaps some bright visionary folks can synthesize out of what we've gleaned about the nature of work a better way to live and then auger for its implementation. Progress doesn't equal more of the same. And hope born from technophilia is not going to necessarily lead to progress either. Philosophical progress on what's the point of life going forward matters every bit as much. We need to collectively think more than do for a change. The health of the world depends on it.

frlbane said...

The institution of the "job" is the system that will be used for accounting for, allocating and reckoning that share. Dan K

Except for the rich? Do you insist the poor work but not the rich?

Why not rather aim for justice instead of jobs per se? What about family farms that were essentially stolen by the banking cartel? Should they not be returned? What about unjust debt the population was driven into by the counterfeiting cartel? What about savers cheated with negative real interest rates by that same cartel? What about current unjust wealth inequality?

Tom Hickey said...

This is not a new idea I suggesting. See Aristotle on freedom. The problem was that at that time freedom of citizens of the polis was dependent on slave labor. Now we are at the point that what took 99% of the labor in agriculture has been reduced to 1%. No reason that the same cannot be accomplished by automation and robotics in industry.

Modern thinkers include Bucky Fuller, Abraham Maslow, Kenneth Boulding, etc. Robert Theobold developed "the economics of abundance." Resilient Communities is a spin off of his work. There are many blogs on community, peer to peer, the commons, etc. This has been a burgeoning field since the Sixties and it is exploding globally now. It's a huge developing trend that parallels the Internet in its development. They connect in social networking and blogging.

Transcending the capitalistic notion of labor doesn't mean that free people will do nothing when they are liberated from having to "work for living." Many interesting things to do that cannot yet be automatized will be left over. Before the development and scaling of AI, that's quite a bit of interesting stuff.

And then there is knowledge for its own sake, which is supposedly what liberal education and universities are for, and which leads to greater innovation and productivity as a by-product. And there there is artistic endeavor in the broad sense, which leads to higher culture and civilization as a by-product.

As a species we have come along way and we still have along way to go. As Fuller and Boulding observe, "The ability to use knowledge is power." Knowledge is our chief capital and it is unlimited.

Malmo's Ghost said...

What Really Matters

http://www.naturallifemagazine.com/9412/gatto.htm

Malmo's Ghost said...

Oh, and my ideal vision of progress would be the elimination of authoritarian and hierarchical structures that are inherent in every facet of our lives. That way economics built on compulsion will go bye bye for good. Good riddance.

Tom Hickey said...

elimination of authoritarian and hierarchical structures

That is the basis of anarchism aka libertarianism on both left and right.

Malmo's Ghost said...

I know that, Tom. I'm certainly not a libertarian in any sense of the word. For now I'd settle for a significant erosion of these relationships. Oh, and I'd by far prefer the state as it's constituted now over any anarcho-capitalist-libertarian so called utopia, which is merely oppression by another name.

My liberation starts with the family and work and demythologizing their hold on us. The larger social dynamic that I see as healthy will necessarily follow.

Tom Hickey said...

The problem with anarcho-capitalism of the right is that it ends up with a privilege class owning the bulk of wealth and everyone else free in name only. The problem with anarcho-communitarianism is that it ends up in collectivism or just failure as a group. Again, everyone is free in name only.

But both of these approaches are at least trying. The authoritarian hierarchical approach is starting from privilege, with only the privilege truly free.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Tom, I'm and idealist and a realist. I think I know what is good but I'm likely not going to be around to see it. I'm content with an incremental approach to change. I don't fit well into any labels.

Ryan Harris said...

My doubts aren't about productivity increasing for manufactured goods, business management and technical services like accounting to the point where almost no one works in those fields. Like happened to food & farms last century, the prices of goods should fall as fewer people are employed in those endeavors which should leave people with more income to spend on other things.

Most of the large challenges facing humanity require massive amounts of labor ranging from the high-minded professions to the general laborer. In the USA things like developing water systems in the west, building pipelines, replacing highway systems, rail roads, building houses, growing and distributing food to the world, reducing/renewing energy usage and supplies, fixing broken edu & health systems, raising environmental quality, studying disease and drugs, researching the small particles, or even moving humans settlements to places other than earth, there is no end to what needs to be done for public purpose such that we could use every unemployed person and not meet those needs; And that doesn't even broach meeting the unmet medical, material, food, housing, communication and service needs of the private population.

I don't see how we can accomplish these things without paying people to work. People have to sacrifice their time, energy and lives to deliver services and goods and should be compensated for doing it. Government SHOULD use money to entice people to work towards producing goods and services for the commons. People are never going to do these things because they enjoy them. Are they?


Tom Hickey said...

Malmo's Ghost said...
Tom, I'm and idealist and a realist. I think I know what is good but I'm likely not going to be around to see it. I'm content with an incremental approach to change. I don't fit well into any labels.


That describes me, too, but I project my idealist side. The problem with "realists" is that they are too willing to settle for much less than potential. Let's shoot for full potential and take what we get after doing our best.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Ryan, Work is obviously not going to end. In the meantime I'd sure like to see income disparity largely disappear. That means the college professors won't make much more than a carpenter or the lawyer more than the truck driver. And at the very least every worker should make a more than a subsistence wage.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Tom,

Yes, I'm with you all the way. Let's aim high, and always keep an open mind. From what I can tell of your posts you've got the perfect temperament for way of thinking too. I really enjoy your style.

Tom Hickey said...

I don't see how we can accomplish these things without paying people to work. People have to sacrifice their time, energy and lives to deliver services and goods and should be compensated for doing it. Government SHOULD use money to entice people to work towards producing goods and services for the commons. People are never going to do these things because they enjoy them. Are they?

That's giving up out of the gate. And you would be surprised at what people do because they enjoy it. A couple of years ago I was living at a place where the family across the street won the lottery and their after tax take was a lump sum 20 million USD. The wife was a nurse working in an abusive environment and as soon as the check was in her hands, she got on her cell and told her employer to f*ck off. The husband on the other hand was a tradesman who loved his routine and his buddies and he continued showing up daily just because he enjoyed it more than just going fishing for the rest of his life. As long as there are interesting and challenging tasks to perform in a nurturing environment, there will be people will want to perform them.

Tom Hickey said...

This is true of education, too. Human are geared to learn. The best educational system is one that harnesses that natural tendency and cultures it instead of directing it. Again, the authoritarian hierarchal model is the wrong institutional approach.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Excellent insight, Tom. This is for you. I think you'll appreciate better than most:

http://www.newciv.org/whole/schoolteacher.txt

I left my high school teaching job ten years ago after reading Gatto. Hardest thing I've ever done. Went on to homeschool (unschool actually) my son. He entered university at 15 years of age. So many ways to skin a cat.

Tom Hickey said...

Thanks. I'm keeping a list. BTW, why don't you write up a post?

Malmo's Ghost said...

Tom, I'm not sure what you mean by write up a post? Do you mean comment at greater length?

Tom Hickey said...

A post is what people comment on. Mike has invited contributors. See link in the left col.

Sharing your experience would be a good lede, if you decide to write something up.

paul said...

"I left my high school teaching job ten years ago after reading Gatto."

My son and grandson discovered Gatto as well as other open-source education resources.

My son is now happier than he has ever been in his life even though he is struggling financially. My grandson is very bright but has come to view high school as indoctrination and can barely bring himself to attend, but in Florida, no school, no drivers license until you're 18.

I've been encouraging the grandson to go to vocational school instead and learn some skills, maybe welding and auto mechanics, which he loves.

It's hard for me to push the old party line that he needs to go to college to get anywhere in life, which is what I was told. Although I have a degree, most of the things I've done in my life I've taught to myself. I've always tried to do what I liked and not worry about the money.

Only a handful of kids in school need a teacher, everyone else just picks it up. Our education system is designed to produce worker-bees.