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Where would be the fun in watching a driverless Formula 1 race?
November 9, 2013 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Brad DeLong, recently installed at Equitablog, lays out a future (wonkish) where the returns to capital keep increasing relative to labor: "What do we people do to add value? Eight things...

  1. We apply large amounts of energy to move things around and transform them.
  2. We use fine manipulators to do precision work as we move things around and transform them.
  3. We amuse, please, and encourage each other.
  4. We figure out how the large amounts of energy are to be applied, and trigger the application.
  5. We figure out how the precision work is to be done, and trigger the manipulation.
  6. We coordinate our collective efforts so that we are mostly pulling in more-or-less the same direction.
  7. We communicate to others both what is going on and better ways of doing useful things.
  8. We think of new (and hopefully better) ways of doing useful things, or new useful things to do...
"But technology marches on... So what's left for humans?
  • Those parts of (3) that cannot or that we prefer not to have automated: live coaches, live performers, live companions--call this (3b)
  • (6) in the form of all of the paper-shuffling to keep track of what we are all doing, what we are each allowed to do, and what we should do next--an economy of clerks, call this (6a).
  • (6) in the form of actual planning--all this (6b).
  • (7)--education, journalism, and marketing, but this too is breaking apart into a (7a) that can be automated by information and communications technologies and a (7b) that still requires high-human cognition.
  • (8)--research and development.
"So right now we live in a world in which some people still do (1)-(5), but only (3b) is in any sense a potential growth sector for employment, and in which (6)-(8) (plus 3b) are what we do. And now (6a) is about to vanish into the automated info sphere as well, possibly accompanied by (7a).

"That will leave us with personal services--(3b)--actual planning and control--(6b)--elite education/journalism/marketing--(7b)--and (8), research and development, as things that humans can do in the future to add value. Our society will then be enormously rich: our collective and average productivity will be awesome. But the society will only be a good society if we can figure out how to employ each other in high-value (3b) activities--only if we find ways to organize life so that most of us can actually add a lot of value by amusing, pleasing, and encouraging others will we have a society of mutual respect, and of only tolerable inequality."

Shorter DeLong: "We are moving forward into a world in which we are going to have to figure out a better way to share out of the common store."

It may be: "Society could set a basic income that rises with economy-wide productivity, and as workers' potential earnings fall below that reservation level they cease working. An alternative (or maybe complementary) policy might be to encourage broader ownership of capital, either as part of standard labour compensation or in lieu of some other income subsidy."

But for 'distributed capitalism' to happen, it could take a decidedly socialist turn; "Technologies must exist which permit cooperative modes of production... Here, though, it is quite possible to argue that we are moving in this direction, in (at least) two ways:
  1. The decline of mass production and rise of more human capital-intensive businesses means that traditional capitalism with external shareholders and top-down hierarchies is no longer technically efficient. A classic paper (pdf) by Luigi Zingales discusses this in non-Marxian terms.
  2. The internet is facilitating cooperation at the expense of traditional capitalism. We see this most clearly in the way the media and music industries are suffering, but we could add P2P lending too.
"Sure, these are small beer now. But they might grow. The socialist revolution might take as long as the industrial revolution."

And so, sure enough, this seems to be happening: The Rise of Invisible Work
...as farming became more efficient, people who once were farmers found other things to do instead (conveniently right around the same time as a massive expansion in secondary education)...

The sharing economy, however, is not exactly like economic disruptions that came before it. More complex technology typically demands more complex skills. And, in the past, major technological change in the economy has been accompanied by a shift toward higher-skilled work. Initially, there’s a shortage of those high-skilled people. Their wages go up, while wages go down for the people who are steeped in the old technology.

The sharing economy is fundamentally premised on new technology, and it's creating new jobs exactly like this for the developers and programmers on the back end of Etsy’s platform or SideCar’s app. But that’s not the most interesting part of this story.

“eBay’s impact hasn’t been on the thousands of tech jobs it created for eBay,” Sundararajan says, “but on the hundreds of thousands of sellers it created.”

That’s where the real economic impact here lies, and it’s not actually clear if all of those people – Uber drivers, Etsy sellers, Airbnb hosts – need more complex skills than what was required of them a decade ago.
also btw...
-Why human contests still beat those with computers [1,2,3]
-Digital technology for social good
-Regulating the Sharing Economy
-The 'sharing economy' undermines workers' rights
-The One Thing That Threatens Workers the Most
-How Americans Will Adapt to Lower Living Standards
-Learning to Compete and Cooperate
-A Unified Theory of Why Women Earn Less
-Economics as a moral science
-The capitalist state
-Abundance - VPRO Backlight (via)
posted by kliuless (29 comments total) 107 users marked this as a favorite

 
Capitalism, like all existing economics, is about the management of scarcity. Efforts to preserve it in the face of dwindling scarcity will only become more and more grotesque. Witness this post, in which the framing is not "why do we need the minority of capital owners?" but "why would the minority of capital owners share the wealth of the earth with the other 99% of the human race?"
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:47 PM on November 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


Witness this post, in which the framing is not "why do we need the minority of capital owners?" but "why would the minority of capital owners share the wealth of the earth with the other 99% of the human race?"

Or, as it is put in some quarters, "why do the minority of capital owners need everyone else?"
posted by clockzero at 3:10 PM on November 9, 2013


(3) Re this post: "Well, there goes my Sunday ... Thanks?"
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:23 PM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Capitalism, like all existing economics, is about the management of scarcity.
In the absence of scarcity, scarcity must be created!!!

"why do the minority of capital owners need everyone else?"
Maybe because the 'minority of capital owners' OWN everybody else...
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:50 PM on November 9, 2013


Fabulous aggregation of information ... on a topic all of us had better get up to speed on ... and the sooner the better. Thanks!
posted by woodblock100 at 3:51 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


We need a 1% that is smart enough to figure out that making the 99% desperately poor is not a strategy for increasing property values.

The asshat in the other thread who said "we do not hire from the Melting Pot" is a good example of one who needs to go up against the wall.
posted by localroger at 3:54 PM on November 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Where was that again?
posted by goethean at 7:05 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or, as it is put in some quarters, "why do the minority of capital owners need everyone else?"

The 99% is the market. At some point not far down that curve people consume more than they produce. The tragedy is that the lowest income earners see the ownership of consumer goods as an indicator of wealth. In fact, it's anything but. This is the trick that the corporate elite have played on the masses. If you're not producing more cars than you're driving, you're the sucker.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:10 PM on November 9, 2013


I am always impressed by the fact that Oscar Wilde had most of this figured out back in 1891: "The community by means of organisation of machinery will supply the useful things, and the beautiful things will be made by the individual."
posted by washburn at 7:18 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lots of links to chew on, but it's looking like the biggest unifying theme here (despite a few links that seem more or less tangential) is that the invisible hand is working like it always does.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:59 PM on November 9, 2013


Where was that again?

Here. (Found by this search.)
posted by stebulus at 9:00 PM on November 9, 2013


Loving the idea of re-education camps for bankers. Or CEOs of huge corporations or any other member of society's top 1% of wealth holders.

Won't ever happen because if anybody in the world can afford good security it's the 1%, but it's a lovely dream.

I'm thinking the camps should be modelled along the lines of Norwegian humane prisons. We don't make it an actual crime to be numbered among the 1%; we just remove them from their power structures for long enough to let them regain their sense of proportion.
posted by flabdablet at 9:56 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the absence of scarcity, scarcity must be created!!!

E.g., Intellectual Property
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:54 AM on November 10, 2013


despite a few links that seem more or less tangential

just to be clear, the three main links _i think_ are...

-What do we people do to add value?
-Marxism, socialism & technology
-The Rise of Invisible Work

...that the others sort of hang off of, for color/context, but i think are also worth exploring in their own right :P

for example, under the (wonkish!) Physiocracy and Robots link, Dan Kervick comments:
The techno-pessimists will be right if people foolishly choose to go in for basic income schemes and other ruses to buy people off, jettison them from the productive part of the economy and gradually turn them into permanently unemployed and underemployed dependents (flunkies). The flunkies will never possess political power in the state. Nor, as history shows, do the aristocrats maintain political power in the long term, once they stop performing their previous useful functions as the military and managerial muscle.

Those who are involved in the capital development of the country and control shares of that capital will always have the real, ultimate decision-making power, which they can then convert into formal political power. This includes being a possessor of useful and applied labor skills.
oh and as an addendum, check out delong's Prologue to a Framework for Thinking About "Equitable Growth":
There are four sequential questions:
  1. What should we be doing to boost the productive potential of the American economy, and also the world economy? How do we best boost our resources—labor, skills, capital, infrastructure, ideas, and others?
  2. What should we be doing to ensure that that productive potential was turned into actual useful goods and services produced?
  3. What should we be doing in order to distribute those useful goods and services to the people who ought to have in some sense—who need them the most, who would enjoy them the most, and who deserve them the most?
Call these: "accumulation", "production", and "distribution". Or, if you want to give them economists' names: Smith-Solow, North-Keynes, Ricardo-Galbraith.

And then there is (4): what are the interactions and linkages? How does (1) constrain (2) and (3)? How does (2) constrain (3)? How does what we choose to do in (3) feedback onto (1) and (2)? And how does what we choose to do in (2) feedback onto (1)? That these linkages and interactions are key is obvious: you cannot produce where the productive potential is not there; you cannot distribute what is not produced. Moreover, if you are getting the distribution wrong it is very unlikely that you are providing people with the right incentives to make stuff and to build productive potential; it if you are not producing you are giving people no incentive to build productive potential at all.

When you take this as an organizing framework, America's big economic problems jump out at you...
last but not least: The Cleantech Future
posted by kliuless at 10:55 AM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


If they replaced the Formula 1 drivers with robots, I'm not sure anyone would notice -- it would be just as fun as it is now.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 1:49 PM on November 10, 2013


0.009 seconds! (which is the best sorting algorithm? ;) also btw...
posted by kliuless at 6:54 AM on November 11, 2013


Actually, this "revolutionary new world" of invisible work, small time entrepreneurialsm, temp jobs and gigs is quite old and characteristic of economic decay, poverty, indebtedness and crippling instability. It's a common occurrence in developing nations for this type of work to be the dominant form of employment among non-farmers, and it's what people are fleeing from in favor of sweatshops with deplorable conditions and a work force seen as interchangeable and disposable. If these jobs are to be counted as employment, there should be the caveat that they usually don't provide most of the benefits of traditional employment, included but not limited to enough money to pay for housing and adequate nutrition.
posted by Selena777 at 7:36 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


http://m.xkcd.com/1263/
posted by one weird trick at 5:13 PM on November 11, 2013


To respond to one of those tangential links: I find watching grandmasters draw against each other anything but boring. To my way of thinking, chess is not primarily about winning and losing per se; chess is about exploring a balance of power, where the factors that count as powerful are subtle and not at all obvious, and the first player to misjudge one of those factors will be the loser.

In other words, a draw happens when both players win. If I can learn how to draw against a grandmaster by watching grandmasters draw against each other: YES PLEASE!
posted by flabdablet at 7:58 PM on November 11, 2013


It depends on the particular game. Two grandmasters playing against each other, both playing to win, can certainly be an exciting and instructive game even when it ends in a draw.

But there are other times where, based on earlier results in the tournament, or possibly other factors, both GMs will be satisfied with a draw. In that case, both players can play known "safe" moves, not taking any huge risks in an attempt to gain a decisive advantage, and agreeing to a draw relatively early. There is little to be learned from those that could not already be learned from existing chess literature.

If I can learn how to draw against a grandmaster by watching grandmasters draw against each other: YES PLEASE!

The latter type of draw I described will, at best, teach you only how to draw against a GM who is trying to draw against you; it will not help you draw a GM who is trying to beat you. And I think we can trust that if a GM were playing you or me, they would always be playing to win.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:51 AM on November 12, 2013


So, I just watched Anand and Carlsen play their fourth game, which ended in a draw despite Carlsen's best effort to make it not do so. It was magic.
posted by flabdablet at 8:11 AM on November 13, 2013


'Not to share wealth with poor is to steal'
Pope slams capitalism as 'new tyranny'

posted by jeffburdges at 9:40 AM on November 26, 2013


I've been mulling over the idea of a wealth-based income tax.

The overarching principle is that since tax acts as an economic disincentive to the activity that's taxed, it seems to me that we ought to be taxing mostly or even only those things that individuals do to our collective detriment.

Massively disproportionate accumulation of individual wealth, it seems to me, squarely falls into that category. So if we can apply a disincentive to that without applying a similar disincentive to the very act of starting a business or employing people or innovating or all that good stuff, we should.

A straight-up wealth tax strikes me as morally unsound. It seems to me that if you've worked for things within any given system, the system should respect your right to keep them. Income tax is also problematic, because it unfairly penalises those whose income is irregular or otherwise not aligned with the yearly taxation cycle.

But if we required people (real breathing ones, not corporations) to pay income tax (where income is defined as all sources of net worth increase including capital gains) at a rate dependent on their net worth before derivation of that income (including the value of all assets over which they have effective sole control even if not actual ownership, e.g. company houses and cars and aeroplanes)? I think that's just.

The required tax percentage could be derived from a formula that compares the taxpayer's net worth against the median net worth across the country.

And corporate income tax? Completely abolished. Corporations don't do things; the people who run them and work in them do. Corporations also come in such a huge variety of sizes that any system comparing their incomes with those of actual breathing persons would be ridiculously unworkable. So we don't soak the corporations at all; we get our taxes from the people they enrich.

So whose hundred-year-old idea have I re-invented this time, and what was wrong with it last time?
posted by flabdablet at 7:13 PM on November 26, 2013


A straight-up wealth tax strikes me as morally unsound.

Considering that most non-1% people who have a positive net worth have most of said net worth tied up in a residence, you have just described property taxes which are the backbone of small government funding almost everywhere.
posted by localroger at 7:33 PM on November 26, 2013


The moral case for [the IMF supported] one-off wealth tax is compelling

I personally favor eliminating individual income taxes in favor of an income-adjusted value added tax for corporations, flabdablet. Income adjustment occurs logarithmically so that a corporation that earns twice as much money always pays x% more. Individuals in the top say 5% must pay an income tax as if they were corporations with their income. Individuals cannot even be required to disclose their earnings unless they fall into the top say 10%.

Isn't such a VAT tax regressive? Yes perhaps, but income inequality is bad because it create power inequality. We've found that large corporations posses vast powers, frequently outstripping even their owners. An income adjusted VAT with unbounded but logarithmic scaling might effectively penalizes corporate size, i.e. owners know that chopping the company into halfs always increases their dividends. In short, it's progressive on corporate size, not individuals.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:43 PM on November 26, 2013


i'm partial to progressive consumption taxation, speaking of dematerialization and tamping down winner-take-all dynamics :P but yea to the extent that massive wealth accumulation represents rent extraction (capture of positive externalities* or the 'pigouvian' dispersal of negative externalities) and is detrimental to society (which i think it does, and is!) then taxing wealth or property is necessary for basic fairness, 'equitable growth' and to strengthen the fabric of social reality, never mind redistribution (correcting for predistribution...)

of course that brings up political economy and the 'elites' who would defend their privileges (control of legal machinery and regulatory infrastructure to extract rents; 'stationary bandits') versus demands from the proles who might ask (if at all, in between toiling away in drudgery) for some accountability from those that would maintain the 'conditions of oppression', barring the lack of suitable entertainments and/or tribalistic nationalism that requires 'enemies' if not vassal-like consumer tribute/obeisance.

but how do you measure externalities (social utility/preference curves) and diffuse notions of value (versus more easily quantifiable transactional exchanges)? just as important, who has access and how would you determine worthiness?

so on the flipside of taxation, i'm intrigued by payment systems -- bitcoin capturing all the attention -- but what if (ken rogoff tried redeeming himself from tacitly endorsing austerity): "we want to have a future where we all have an ATM at the Fed instead of intermediated through a bank..."

viz. The precariat needs a basic income: "people with basic security work harder, are more productive, and are more altruistic and tolerant. They also have more confidence, which means they will be more likely to bargain for decent wages and working conditions, and join organisations that wish to do so. And people with basic security do more work that is not labour, such as caring for relatives and their communities. In having more control over their time, they can be more rational and plan their lives better."

cf. What are some of the biggest problems with a guaranteed annual income? "The potential problem is that we inherit and in some ways magnify the problems with the current welfare state, rather than doing away with those problems. Or we could be truly dogmatic about it, and simply pay each person the same amount of money no matter what. But then do we take away the various forms of in-kind aid which are already in place?"

perhaps ad hoc measures could suffice? Here's How Walmart Could Pay Workers a Decent Wage Without Raising Prices - "Walmart could continue spending $7.6 billion to buy back its own stock, or it could pay every worker $14.89 an hour."

or alternatively? Employee share ownership: Turning workers into capitalists
THERE is a depressing familiarity about much of the discussion on what to do about America's widening income inequality. Some remedies are uncontroversial but hard-to-achieve (such as improving education); others are the subject of furious argument (such as more progressive taxation). Debate is heated, but within a fairly narrow set of potential solutions. Once in a while, though, more creative, proposals are added to the mix. "The Citizen's Share", a new book that is the subject of this week's Free exchange column, is one of those.

The book is written by three long-time analysts of, and advocates for, employee share ownership: Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse of Rutgers University (Mr Kruse is currently working at the Council of Economic Advisers), and Richard Freeman of Harvard University. Their proposals for countering wealth concentration and the workers' squeeze stem from this background. Their thesis is simple: since part of the reason for America's widening wealth gap is labour's declining share of national income, then countering this inequality means encouraging firms to give workers broader participation in profits, whether through profit-sharing, stock ownership or stock options. The federal government, they argue, ought to be much more radical in encouraging broad employee share ownership, particularly through tax incentives.
and then there is the problem of growth...
there seem to be a few schools of thought on stagnation:
  • Cyclical demand shortfall (Larry Summers, Munk + Davos).
  • Secular demand shortfall (Larry Summers today, Paul Krugman).
  • Innovative constraints (Michael Mandel).
  • Other structural factors. Or an amalgam of the above. Or something else. (Tyler Cowen).
First of all, talking about “low demand” without reference to a given level of supply is stupid. Aggregate demand in Eurozone is really low right now. But if South India + Maharashtra (approximately the same population) had the same level of demand relative to their supply India would be, well, indescribable. I make this explicit because it is very important to distinguish between “demand” in Summers’ first two videos to that in his last. In the former two he is extolling America’s supply-side potentials. It is unclear to me the way he models supply with his new interpretation of the world. I am looking forward to reading many more posts on this hypothesis.
back to delong who observes:
[W]e don't see businesses dipping into their cash reserves to fund investment; a monetary hot potato; unexpected and rising inflation; and full or over-full employment. Instead, we see elevated unemployment and firms and households adding to their cash reserves. This is what Wicksell expected to see when the natural rate of interest was below the market rate: planned investment would then be lower than desired savings, households and businesses seeking to save would be unable to find enough bonds to balance their portfolios, they would then transfer some of their cash out of transactions balances and treat them as unspendable savings (the "precautionary" or "speculative" demand for money), we would see too little money to buy all the goods and services that would be put on sale at full employment, and we would see no signs of inflation but a depressed economy. That is the root of our problem: the natural nominal rate of interest... today is less than zero, and so the Federal Reserve cannot push the market nominal rate of interest down low enough.
like take a look at this chart from the university of michigan's surveys of consumers which shows how much households expect their income to grow in the coming year; The Economist writes: "Since the start of 2009, the median household has expected its income to grow just 0.4% in the next 12 months, i.e. decline in real terms."

apparently, everything old is new again...
Capitalists invest only if it is profitable to do so. When returns to investment were monetizable, this meant that capitalism was indeed a form for developing the productive forces. But returns have become less monetizable, and so capitalists are now less willing to invest. I mean this in several ways:
  • Investment is no longer about building big factories and using capital-intensivity as a barrier to entry and hence form of monetizability; this is done in Asia rather than the west. Instead, investment here is more closely tied to innovation. But capitalists have always had trouble appropriating the returns to innovation, and so are - now they have wised up to this - are reluctant to undertake it.
  • Some/many investments (such as in green technologies?) have higher social returns than private returns. But capitalists don’t invest merely because social returns are high.
  • Technology and changing social norms mean that many capitalist investments in the media are no longer monetizable.
Insofar as there are potentially useful investments which are capitalists are not undertaking because they are not profitable, then capitalism is indeed a fetter on the development of productive forces.

Now, of course, the death of capitalism has been hailed many times before. But I suspect that this crisis differs from that of the 30s and 70s.

In the 30s, profits were depressed by weak aggregate demand, something which could be cured. In the 70s, they were depressed by labour militancy, and when this was killed, capitalists’ desire to invest was rekindled.

But the problem now is deeper than then. Capitalism has lost its underlying oomph; investment was low, remember, even before the recession. And this suggests that its vitality cannot be restored by policy measures, be they Keynesian (“boost demand”) or Thatcherite (“attack workers”).

Herein, though, lies the problem. Even if capitalism is dying - and I say if - there is no-one to kill it off; Marx’s prediction that the working class would become a powerful agent of change was wrong. And there is no well worked-out vision of an alternative. Gramsci’s words fit the bill: “The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”
recalling arnold: "Wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born."

anyway this is all to say that i think it's the lack/failure of institutional evolution (so far) that's holding us back, but let's say in a different context we redefine prosperity:
And therein lies the difference between a poor society and a prosperous one. It isn’t the amount of money that a society has in circulation, whether dollars, euros, beads, or wampum. Rather, it is the availability of the things that create well-being—like antibiotics, air conditioning, safe food, the ability to travel, and even frivolous things like video games. It is the availability of these “solutions” to human problems—things that make life better on a relative basis—that makes us prosperous.

This is why prosperity in human societies can’t be properly understood by just looking at monetary measures of income or wealth. Prosperity in a society is the accumulation of solutions to human problems.
if we could build that do you think anyone would come?

---
*something i heard jaron lanier talking about last nite on the radio and i guess in _who owns the future_ who btw suggests that market competition should be the 'cherry on top' of society and not the motive force of civilization (that is something to engage in when you're bored -- status competition in a leisure society -- and not a hard scrabble for biosurvival tickets)
posted by kliuless at 12:12 PM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I absolutely love dematerialization, kliuless, so thank you for that link, ditto the rest, even if I can't make it through too many. A priori, a progressive consumption tax sounds invasive, more so than individual income tax, although privacy protecting protocols likely exist.

I mentioned favoring a progressive VAT because companies were more powerful than people. Additional reasons include privacy and legal precedents : Individuals need not even report their income, much less pay, until they become obscenely rich. It become a crime not to report your income if you're ridiculously rich enough, but individuals could only be convicted in a normal criminal court, not a tax court. In other words, an accused is innocent until proven guilty, may plead the 5th, etc. You'd avoiding granting separate tax courts special estra-constitutional powers, which makes civil liberties more robust across the entire legal system.

At present, we've made our nominally progressive income taxes as regressive as possible largely because that's what the rich and powerful want. Imagine though if the Sixteenth Amendment read : The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on the five percent of incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration. Ain't quite so easy to push the tax burden on the more poor middle class.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:38 PM on November 27, 2013


I doubt "competition" could or should ever be relegated to a marginal role because competition remains amongst the ultimate reality checks. In particular, all human organizations must eventually be replaced once they grow inefficient, fail to incorporate new technology, etc.

Competition is not necessarily "market competition" however. I've argued before that national budgets should, at least coarsely, be allocated by referenda to create competition amongst government agencies. We want to dethrone the sociopathic ideology of shareholder capitalism largely so that companies compete on more than simply their bottom line.

Also, real capitalism largely concerns itself with preventing competition and intentionally creating profitable market failures. We should prevent this market protectionism to engender more competition. I'd expect doing so to eliminate most jobs in sales and marketing, but not sure.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:07 PM on November 30, 2013


right, i think we're in a period of institutional experimentation and competition; people are sorting themselves out, voting with their feet as it were, or as marx & engels put it :P
Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
BUT, rather than the state owning/managing production -- tried and failed* -- i (and the founding fathers ;) think employee ownership may be the next step in the institutional evolution of human organization!
James Madison warned that inequality in property ownership would subvert liberty, either through opposition to wealth (a war of labor against capital) or "by an oligarchy founded on corruption" through which the wealthy dominate political decision-making (a war of capital against labor). John Adams favored distribution of public lands to the landless to create broad-based ownership of property, then the critical component of business capital in the largely agricultural U.S. Current levels and trends in inequality would almost certainly have terrified the founders, who believed that broad-based property ownership was essential to the sustenance of a republic...
and if you believe in currency as a tax credit and that the national debt is indeed a national equity then if we are to face up to our relations with our kind, we're gonna have to figure out better ways to educate/employ one another, and that'll in part take understanding structural effects such as:
  1. Weak labor mobility - with mortgages underwater, many workers for example can't simply move to North Dakota where the job market is vibrant.
  2. Skills mismatch - workers with a college degree often go on unemployment rather than taking a low-paying job in the fast food industry for exmple. At the same time workers with specialized skills may be difficult to find (see example).
  3. Part-time vs. full-time mismatch - many workers who receive unemployment benefits do not accept part-time work.
  4. Impact of long-term unemployment - workers who have been out of work for a long time have trouble reentering the workforce even if there are job openings.
  5. Some argue that increased poverty creates barriers to entry into the labor markets for certain groups.
  6. One reader suggested that unlike in the past, job openings are not always for immediate hires. Openings could persist for some time without resulting in a job creation.
taking into consideration the institutional evolution of central banking, which (if not successful could be replaced by _something else_) as we speak is exploring ways to 'full employment' as a roundabout employer of last resort -- recall: "where we all have an ATM at the Fed"! -- and more generally whether we as a society will be able to fail fast and gracefully in that search process of the 'solution space' to reach an acceptable equilibrium institutional configuration for all parties involved... keeping in mind 'national equity' and claims on productive capacity; remember the financial/payment system is just an information system that evaluates and transmits value, so how it's measured and controlled is of course really important, but not anything the internet or a 'smart grid' couldn't do! :P

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*"Queen Elizabeth II honoured five pioneers of computer networking. Four of the men who shared the new £1m ($1.6m) Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering are famous: Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, authors of the protocols that underpin the internet; Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web; and Marc Andreessen, creator of the first successful web browser. But the fifth man is less well known. He is Louis Pouzin, a garrulous Frenchman whose contribution to the field is every bit as seminal..."
posted by kliuless at 11:45 PM on November 30, 2013


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