James Livingston, professor of history at Rutgers University in New York, does a pretty good job of agreeing with something that I have been trying to convince people of a long time now: that betterment of our social and economic circumstances cannot be accomplished with any kind of emphasis on jobs as they are currently defined by a market, consumer economy. Where we diverge, however, is that that same economic system can be reformed, by proper taxation and the application of the budget surpluses thus created.
Great budget surpluses might well be created by more enlightened taxation. And higher taxes for corporations, as well as the wealthy, might not have nearly the adverse effect on further investment for further job growth, as he suggests. But these aren't the real problems. The real problem is the absurdity of human labor as a commodity in the first place now. As well as the absurdity of a mass production, mass consumption model of productive distribution where that labor commodity served as a main part of its own self perpetuation (within the mindset of the factory as a social organizational model).
Further, whether paying people a living wage, regardless of having a job or not (however you might go about that), would actually work, within the current context of what is considered "economics," or not is certainly quite debatable. The real question ought to be why would you even want to try such an alteration of a demonstrably obsolete operating system at all? Especially when your alteration does nothing to change the fact of money itself, and it's current equivalency with information. Assuming, of course, that you also wanted to preserve Democracy as way to govern.
That being said, though, I would urge you to read Professor Livingston's article in Aeon. It is quite interesting, as well as suggestive of the faultlines that our current economic operating system has beneath it. Fault lines building up pressure that will, of necessity, find release one way or another. There are questions here. Fundamental questions that everybody ought to be giving serious consideration of.
Economists believe in full employment. Americans think that work builds character. But what if jobs aren’t working anymore?
by James Livingston
For centuries, experts have predicted that machines would make workers obsolete. That moment may finally be arriving. Could that be a good thing?