Monday, September 2, 2013

Dean Baker: We must choose leisure or unemployment

An interesting article from Dean Baker.


Examinator said...

Clever and interesting thought experiment.
The real point for me is that... contrary the GOP/ American thinking generally "there ARE more than one way to skin a pole cat."
All it takes is to stop setting up sides and concentrate on solving REAL issues.

HispanicPundit said...

The problem with the European model is that in normal times, the German model will result in significantly higher unemployment rates. As has historically been the case.

Dont get me wrong...I dont necessarily disagree with Baker. His economics is spot on here - FOR SURE, the Germany economic model is superior to the US economic model in recession times. But this isn't telling the full story.

Since normal times usually last longer than recessions, the German model is more harmful to the downtrodden on the whole.

Economist Caplan elaborates on these points here and here.

Examinator said...

Simple questions why must it be one model or the other? Why not use the parts of all the models that work.
The German model is the German model NOT THE 'European model'.

Clearly there are different circumstances 'on the ground' .
Added to that one needs accept that economics isn't a hard 'science' and is subject to ideological beliefs.

My argument is that because of the above surely rather than START with an ideology why not look at all the facts and create a model that uses the observable truths regardless of which ideology? no ONE IDEOLOGY has ALL the answers under every circumstance.

Ideologies tend to be fashions true scientific endeavours should be beyond them.

Jon said...

I don't think Baker said we should take the full German model. He's simply saying there's a point to be drawn from a system that has led to more sharing of the work load and leisure.

Not that I grant your point that the German model is harmful for the downtrodden long term. Unemployment may be higher, but that's not so bad in all places. The case is made pretty well here:

HispanicPundit said...

Well thats the trade off: jobs, vs "more sharing of the work load and leisure".

And being that its usually the poorest of society that bear the unemployment burden, especially as a minority, I prefer the US model.

Previously addressed that alternet link as well.

Jon said...

I prefer the German model and as I mentioned life is much better for people in lower income groups there despite your claim that unemployment harms the poor more, but that's really not the point here. Long term unemployment in Germany is not the result of more leisure, but instead would be the result of a policy that led to leisure. From your perspective making it difficult to lay off led to two outcomes 1-long term unemployment during good times and 2-more leisure and low unemployment in bad times. We still should draw lessons from 2. We could consider different ways of implementing 2 different from the way Germany does it, and avoid 1. The point is not to advocate a German model hook line and sinker. Choosing between leisure and unemployment is a long term consideration here right now. Massive efficiency gains mean less work is required to do more. If we don't encourage more leisure and as people reach limits on consumption (thank God) we will have a long term unemployment problem, in a country without the German back stop for the poor.

Examinator said...

Unemployment leads to more leisure? And/or more leisure leads to unemployment? The causal link between the two is a figment/ artefact of ideologically founded prognostication Based on spin. It is simply a non seq argument to cover, justify the current excess dehumanization/comodification of society under the current version of capitalism.

Logic dictates the whole proposition is based on selective data and circumstances (read incomplete). And a biased (spin) mis-usage of the word "leisure". (there is a clear deliberate disconnect with the real meaning of the word.)

Job sharing has nothing to do with leisure except to a right wing 'believer'.
Time not at work doesn't mean leisure it (in reality) means only time not at paid employment.

Most job sharers/ part timers are students, people forced (read no choice but) to to hold down multiple part time jobs (to make ends meet). women with 'family obligations' i.e. children, sick or elderly relatives.
You need to examine what are the employed jobs being shared and under what circumstances.

In reality the term should be under employment. Sure there are some who want more flexible hours (read less hours because of the above other obligations) but they are a minority.

Try having 'leisure' without a source of income? It's called poverty stress. that is show to lead to desperation more so with the under pinning of the western ever present manipulated expectations.

By the way try having leisure without services(which need people/jobs). no boat crews, hotel staff, movie house staff, no bar staff et al.
Research has shown that most give the opportunity would prefer regular full employment for reasonable wages.

Hence I said an interesting thought experiment... spreading the belt tightening amongst the lower paid employees.(read the most vulnerable aka the most ruthlessly exploited ...non capitalists)

HispanicPundit said...

We still should draw lessons from 2. We could consider different ways of implementing 2 different from the way Germany does it, and avoid 1.

Yes, and we need to figure out how to prevent gravity from killing people that jump off buildings!

If you could truly find a solution to the trade-off above - and I mean truly solve it, in a way trained economists would mostly agree with - you could win the Nobel prize. I for one, would back your policy!

The best part about the US model vs the German model, atleast from the perspective of a minority with little education is that atleast the US model gives one the option. In the US model, if I truly wanted to live a low income, low materialist life, I could...I have that option.

The German model merely forces that on the unemployed.

Jon said...

How do you know the German model forces that on the unemployed? How do you know for instance that they don't just have higher unemployment because some people prefer to not work, and find themselves in a situation that allows that? When unemployment is lest painful some will choose it. It's a choice most don't have in the US, because here if you are unemployed you suffer more.

Examinator said...

As usual your perchance for ideological myopia take the fore
The American model simply MAKES other nations bear the poverty then wonders why it's hated ... take the middle east.

Have you any facts to support that a significant minority WANT to live with less? I make the distinction between the alternative lifestylers and the significant number of people who due to lack of education and or opportunity are simply out and out poor.

If you look at the figures of Germany carefully you'll notice that the significantly poor are non German and the and racist attitudes laws exacerbate that(much like in the U.S.).

Part of the problem there is the sense of nationalist based entitlement... The under skilled East Germans now have to compete with 'foreigners' for the low skilled positions ...resentment and Neo-Nazi attitudes et al.

Meanwhile the relatively better off of the general public want cheap goods. And the C(G)APitalists want ever more profit... and to hell with the logical consequences ... they have economic THEORIES to justify/explain their actions (Hindsight spin).
HP, at best Economics is a bit like the airlines statistician that tells you that you have a greater chance of being injured crossing the road than flying in a commercial airliner.... on the surface that is perhaps true but in reality it is a false equivalence.
I.e. there are still people who have never flown but everyone has crossed a road.