Monday, December 03, 2012

Let's Get "Real"

I think I am suffering from some kind of delusional crisis. I cannot decide whether I am smarter than others or so crazy as to merely think I am. I know that I agree with Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning economist, but apparently not with many others, and I cannot understand why there is so much confusion over what seems to me (and Krugman) to be so perfectly obvious. Krugman has said recently that only the Federal Government has enough resources to create jobs. T hat is, if we want to create more jobs it is up to the Government to create them. This seems perfectly obvious to me, but  it is apparently not at all obvious to others, mostly Republicans, who seem to believe the Government has no business creating jobs (and, according to some, cannot do so). This implies that the creation of jobs is something that should be left to the private sector, a belief I think is truly far-fetched.
We currently live in a culture that has changed over the years from an agrarian economy into an industrial economy. Accompanying this change has been mechanization, automation, technological innovations, and the appearance of robotic manufacturing. This has resulted in a situation where far fewer people can produce the necessities and wants of the entire population. When a single farmer  can produce what used to require a dozen or so, or when robots can replace several people on an assembly line, or there are even automatic self check-out stations in supermarkets, and so on, it should be obvious that fewer and fewer employees are required to do what was formerly done by many more. When you couple this with an economic system that treats labor as a commodity, and preys on an overabundant supply of labor, both locally and worldwide, it is absurd to believe the private sector is going to provide jobs for all. Corporations and the various businesses that make up our demand for labor are making record profits, obviously with the employees they currently have. Why, then, would they hire more employees? Obviously they do not hire people just out of the goodness of their hearts, they hire them for the purpose of exploiting their labor for profit. Thus to expect the private sector to create jobs over and above their needs is a false expectation. So, then, what is to happen to the large surplus of labor (people) that exist(s) for which there are no jobs?
When there is a large surplus of labor and no jobs for them one obvious solution is to let them simply starve to death and die. Most societies on earth think this is not a moral or just solution. This is why there are things like unemployment insurance, social security, various forms of the “dole,” and so on. Another obvious solution is for Government to provide jobs of various kinds. These do not have to be simply “make-work” jobs, but can also include such required positions as policemen, firemen, teachers, social workers, construction workers, and even in some cases, artists and writers. In extreme cases Government can create organizations such as the Civilian Conservation Corps that can also provide useful services as they did under the Roosevelt Administration. In any case, unless a society is willing to simply write off its surplus population to poverty, sickness, and slow death, it has to provide employment  or at least some form of subsidy to those in need. I gather our current Republican Party favors the slow death arrangement as they seem to be opposed to anything that might make the lives of ordinary people more comfortable: minimum wages, unemployment insurance, government  jobs, health care, and etc.
All of this seems perfectly obvious to me, and, I gather, to Paul Krugman as well, so I think I am in good company. But why it does not seem obvious to others I do not know. Either they do not understand it or they do understand it but just don’t care, or they are so terrified of anything that even remotely resembles “socialism,” their minds are closed to any thought at all.
In New Guinea, where I worked for a time, when someone has their hair cut (which is not often if at all) they and their friends actually mourn for the loss. Today I finally took the final step and had my stupid comb over removed entirely. It turned out nowhere near as bad as I feared, but I am in mourning just  the same, still another step on my journey to the west.

No comments: