Monday, May 12, 2014

Why are we dumping excess labor?

Benjamin Graham wrote that the State may deal with actual or threatened surplus in one of four ways: 
(a) by preventing it;
(b) by destroying it;
(c) by “dumping” it; or
(d) by conserving it.

Since the 1970s, economic theory and monetary practice has dictated that economies must maintain a certain level of unemployed in order to prevent inflation. 

In other words, the perceived threat of surplus labor requires that we dump it. Like excess food that will affect prices, we throw people out of the workforce to spoil and rot. 

It doesn't make as much sense when we put it in those terms, does it?

Actually, there is little evidence that such policies can even manage inflation (remember stagflation anyone?) and the costs to society are immense, both socially (in family breakdowns, rising crime, mental and health problems, etc.) and economically (in lost production).

Why not conserve labor instead? A job guarantee would allow the people's money to be used to pay for employment for anyone who is willing and able to work.

Here's one economists' take on how it could work (and what's a false solution): When is a job guarantee a Job Guarantee? There are plenty others out there.