Sunday, March 10, 2013

More false hope

If you haven't heard, the Dow Jones reached its all-time high, over 14,000, last week. Such indicated to many people that the economy is finally on its way back after a six-year (or thereabout) slump because, finally, people with the means to hire will do so.

I think that such optimism, which will be unfortunately short-lived, is unfounded and shows just how much the mentality of "supply-side economics" has taken hold.

One thing we need to understand: "Creating jobs" is not the primary end of employers -- making money is. That is their right, as no one goes into business for any reason except to make a profit, expanding payroll simply a result of doing well.

Over the past three decades, however, "doing well" simply hasn't translated into jobs, and I don't suspect that will change now.

Productivity among American workers is at an all-time high. Automation has eliminated the need for some kinds of employment. And, these days, companies are doing their best to shed payroll, not least because health benefits cost so much. (Which, ironically, is due to the focus on speculation that caused the shift in the first place.)

The so-called jobless recovery of the Bush II years thus should have exposed as a lie the idea of putting the economy in the hands of "job creators," the closest thing our country has to an aristocracy, being the key to improved performance. "All employers are rich people," you might say. True, but not all rich people are employers, and we began seeing in the early 1980s that the policies that directly benefited them primarily didn't "trickle down" to everyone else.

What we need to do is to find ways to get more money into the hands of people who need it the most -- of course that does mean work, but jobs these days are pretty hard to find. Any suggestions?

No comments: