Time To Rethink Economics (Part 2)
Job-creation is and always has been a massive priority of governments worldwide. In 2012, the World Bank said 600 million new jobs needed to be created over the next fifteen years. In this connection, here is a classic quote from 1933: “A war would be a great idea…Another war would give our three million unemployed ample employment.”
Clearly a nuclear war would be out of the question, but how about a few regional conflicts to stoke production? Think of all the work that would create for munitions factories, medical professionals, undertakers…
On the other hand, what if we had a war economy for peace? That is in effect what we have now. Governments, especially the American Government, are conjuring up money out of thin air, and although thankfully Donald Trump has not taken over the economy, he is pushing especially big corporations in the right direction. Some people have warned all this new money will lead to hyperinflation a year or two down the line. It need not and will not provided our leaders realise this is not money that was borrowed and has to be paid back, but new money created out of thin air, a portion of which can be retired by taxation – cancelled out of existence – if necessary. This is money created by the state for the benefit of all the people, not by the banks for their own enrichment.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (pictured) has been making her usual moronic pronouncements, this time about people going back to work, but for once she might be right. Spain is said to be introducing universal basic income to cope with the current crisis. How about we use this to thin out the workforce? The best way to do so would be to reduce the hours of those in employment by job-sharing, so instead of the staff of your local kebab shop working from 12 noon until after midnight seven days a week, two people do the same job? Depending on the quantum of the UBI in a particular country, this may require some juggling, but most people would gladly take a pay cut if they received in total more or less the same money in combination for working far fewer hours.
Anyone who thinks this is a bad idea should again apply the reductio ad absurdum argument. What happens to society when robots do most of the work, do we keep creating work for the sake of it, or allow people to pursue their own leisure activities, which will in any case create a certain amount of meaningful employment?
Of course, there are some people who will need to put in a full work week, often with extra hours, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez realised to her cost, but by the same token there are many people who will never be employable under the current régime of wage-slavery.
One final point, today we take for granted the Internet. You do, or you wouldn’t be reading this. In addition to saving us time and money, the Internet delivers an enormous amount of real wealth, yet this wealth-creation isn’t recognised for what it is. Let us take one example.
Prior to the Internet, a musician – say a folk artist like Ralph McTell – would go into the studio with an acoustic guitar and record an album. This would then be pressed onto vinyl and distributed via the established network. The total cost of this operation would be considerable, involving transport companies, record shop staff, etc. Today, an artist can record an album in his home studio and upload it to YouTube, indeed many do. The cost of such distribution is negligible, indeed once you have paid for your ISP, most of what you read, watch or download from the Internet is free. So when new money is created debt-free by responsible national governments, why should not a portion of this go to the Internet companies to distribute to content creators further down the food chain?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.