vox populi
or what I wish I wrote

Steve Jobs
Fremont, CA
It is every economist's stupidity to think we need to keep expanding the economy to keep us at full employment. We have a few billion people in the world who are slowly reaching to the productivity levels of the developed countries, hence we will need to expand the economy 10 fold to keep them all employed. Alternately, as productivity goes up, we cut down our hours. I would dare to suggest that if Americans merely worked 20 hrs a week on average, we can complete all the work we have plus more. It appears like we work hard for nothing at all.

Europeans seem to be getting it right - you can't really employ everyone at high productivity levels. You can employ everyone and have huge inefficiencies (still pretending to be efficient) or employ a few and give out everyone else welfare checks or cut down hours for all.


I've been thinking about this for a while: Can we indeed go on with our type of economy, or we need to take a page from, say, the Europeans? This is not to say Europe doesn't have its own problems--just ask any young person between 20 and 35 years of age. It only means that we seem to only push harder in directions of diminishing returns, more expensive with less returns, that is. And this goes on for just about everything we do, from wars and foreign policy to K-12 education and local government budgets. The only question I have not been able to answer is whether we can improve the system gradually as it goes, or need a full stop. If history is of any use here, stop ahead--mind the gap! Yes, I do tend to side with history in uncertain times.

1 comment:

fCh said...


We started down the road toward this debacle when America's leadership in the 1970s bought into the idea that it was easier and less risky to make money by speculatively inflating asset values than through innovation, value creation and productivity enhancement. If we follow the financialization track to its end, we will, like Spain,the Netherlands and England before us see our real economy collapse, our people reduced to general poverty and, for lack of morale, see our technological civilization drown in its own effluent.

The unemployment problem is entirely about our failure to build and sustain a real economy, to enforce a mutually constructive contract between labor and capital, and to understand that everything is systemically interdependent in the long run.

This is not about jobs programs, it is about what kind of society we are going to create for ourselves.

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