Thursday, April 05, 2012

We need worthy and decent unemployments

What politician does not speak up for the need to create decent and well paid jobs for young people? But, if that's not possible, and the economy is not able to deliver that on its own ... What on earth do we do?

Society must of course do its utmost seeking to solve the problem of youth unemployment ... including taking leisure to levels never thought of… six months vacations! But it also needs to prepare itself to handle a growing number of unemployed, not cyclical but structural, that is, those who never ever in their life will have a chance to get an economically productive job.

Two decades ago, concerned about growing unemployment, half in jest, in an Op-Ed in El Universal of Caracas, I asked something like whether it was better to have one hundred thousand unemployed running each on his side as broody hens, or to seat them all in a huge human circle where everyone would scratch the backs of one of his neighbors, charging a lot for his services, while his own back was scratched by his other neighbor, at an equally high price. The tragedy is that this question seems to me now less and less hypothetical.

And is not necessarily an act of desperation to think about what to do with the unemployed ...because sometimes, in seeking to unravel a tangled twine, starting with the other end, may be the best way to release the first. Which is better: educating for a source of employment likely to be absent and therefore only create frustration, or educate for unemployment, and suddenly perhaps reaching, when on that route, the pleasant surprise of some jobs?

The power of a nation, and the productivity of its economy, which so far has depended primarily on the quality of its employees may, in the future, also depend on the quality of its unemployed, as a minimum in the sense of these not interrupting those working.

That the gentleman of the leisure class to which Thorstein Veblen referred did not work, was essentially a result of them being free of economic needs. But that does not also mean that the economy and the social peace of the moment, were not also in need of these men competing for the fewer jobs to be had resulting from an industrial revolution.

The gentleman was encouraged to study philosophy and art by means of the social status he gained when knowing about such matters. In this respect, one of the most important challenges we currently have as a society is how to create social status and other incentives, for the unemployed to become solid and worthy unemployed citizens?

And we need to imbue the unemployed with special pride, because only this way will we keep them from making impossible economic demands... so far I have found no clues about how to handle a bargaining with their union representatives.

Given that we do all have to guard against the dangers of idleness, since the last thing we need is for the structurally idle to be idle, even circumstantially. Many of the current unemployed youth keeps busy with their smart-phones, and we do not want them not to be busy… and so using what is really their net oil revenues, to help them to immediately upgrade to an iPad, sounds like a good start. 

Friends, Venezuela should aspire to good jobs, but also to have the world's best unemployed.

Translated from El Universal, Caracas

PS. To get more jobs and higher salaries: Call on all capitalists to exploit any low salaries, for as much as they can. J

PS. Throw out the useless credit-risk-weighted capital (equity) requirements for banks and… if you absolutely must distort, then use potential-of-job-creation-weights instead (and throw in some sustainability-weights too for good measure). J

PS. A Universal Basic Income, since that is not a not-having-a-job-or-not related social contribution, could be a part of the efforts needed.

PS. Increased tariffs and minimum wages are superb news… for robot manufacturers L

PS. Perhaps we must put payroll taxes on robots to permit us humans to compete for jobs on more level grounds.