Friday, July 23, 2010

Why unemployment is up, part 23453

To put it bluntly: The investor class -- the class of people who invest most of their income since it is excess to consumption necessary for their lifestyle -- has profited over the past 30 years. The consumer class -- the class that consumes most of their income because their income has minimal excess over that necessary to maintain their lifestyle -- has seen stagnant incomes over the past 30 years. The end result is that increases in consumption cannot be sustained by the incomes of the bottom 80% of the population, the consumer class, and consumption invariably drops back down to baseline after short bursts fueled by cheap borrowing.

Which probably is a good thing, because if everybody consumed as much as they'd consume if they had a million dollars like the top 1%, we'd strip this world bare of resources. The problem is that the level of consumption sustainable by the incomes of the bottom 80% is insufficient to employ everybody who wants a job and is willing to work, thanks to massive improvements in productivity over the past 30 years. This causes extreme hardship and misery and, eventually, social disorder. One possible solution is simply to introduce inefficiency into the economy so that more people are employed than the level of consumption at current productivity levels would support being employed. Hmm, what entity do we know that is famous in right-wing circles for introducing inefficiency?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin



  1. Health care would work, too.

  2. Well, I guess if it's inefficiency you're after, we could just turn everything over to the Republicans . . . oh, wait, we already tried that--with less than stellar results, as I recall.

    Still, one can't ignore the need for sweeping changes at all levels of human endeavor, particularly in regard to the social, political and economic systems that have largely fallen into disarray. The band-aid approach won't work (it's probably never worked); only by undertaking a complete redesign of the basic systems we all rely on will we ever come close to engineering workable and sustainable communities.

  3. I think the focus in inefficiency is misplaced, but do not have a cogent argument to support that view point.

    Could it relate to the "lump of labor" fallacy?

    No time to ponder this today.

    I must be off,


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