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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Utopian Thinking on Jobs and Unemployment at the Washington Post

Utopian Thinking on Jobs and Unemployment at the Washington Post

Sunday, 16 January 2011 09:11

Fox on 15th went Utopian on its readers today, ridiculing the suggestion by James Galbraith to temporarily lower the age at which workers can receive full Social Security benefits to 62. The plan, which also was put forward in a bill by Representative Dennis Kucinich, would pull some number of older workers out of the labor force and thereby create more jobs for unemployed younger workers.

The Post disses the plan. In addition to telling readers that it baffled financial journalists (are financial journalists really so thick that they had problems understanding this one?) it goes on:

"The proposals echo a familiar, and questionable, notion on the left: that we should find ways to better parcel out existing jobs. It's the same logic that leads some countries to consider cutting the number of hours or days someone can work each week, so that more people can share the work pool. In reality, the true challenge is to figure out how to create new jobs."

This one really is too delicious to believe that it actually appeared in print. Let's go in order.

The first part describes the idea that we might want to redistribute work by cutting the number of hours each person works as a "notion on the left." Wow, according to the Washington Post, Germany's Christian Democratic government is now on the left. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been a big supporter of the country's work sharing program, although the idea originated with a Social Democratic minister in the previous unity government. These stupid leftists think they should be happy just because Germany's unemployment rate is just 6.7 percent, in spite of the fact that its GDP has taken a bigger hit than the U.S. in this downturn. In fact, many other countries across the OECD also have work sharing policies and most of these countries are not run by politicians who are viewed as leftists by anyone other than the Washington Post.

Okay, now for part II: "In reality, the true challenge is to figure out how to create new jobs." Oh yeah! And, let's see what are the ideas that the Washington Post has for putting 15 million people back to work. Hmmmm, I looked through the rest of the Outlook section, I didn't see any. I looked through the rest of the paper, and yesterday's too, didn't see any there either. In fact, I did a search of the paper over the last two months and I can't say that I saw anything that resembled a proposal to put 15 million people back to work. A naive reader might think that the Washington Post, and the group of policy wonks it considers respectable, just don't have ideas for creating "new jobs" and putting 15 million people back to work.

It sure would be wonderful if these respectable people did rise to the "true challenge" and come up with a way to put millions of people back to work, but they seem to be spending most of their time thinking of ways to reduce the deficit. It appears that our choices at the moment might be sharing the available work or having near double-digit unemployment.

The Post concludes by telling readers:

"sometimes the conventional wisdom is not only conventional, but wise as well."

That might be true, but this doesn't seem like one of those times.

Comments (9)Add Comment
written by fuller schmidt, January 16, 2011 9:55
As Homer Simpson might say, "You know. Those people who create the jobs can just create some jobs."
written by Benedict@Large, January 16, 2011 12:31
I aslo saw that article yesterday, and sat astonished. All I could think was, "Boy, Dean Baker is going to eat this one for lunch!"
More Cuts by Middle and Lower Class Are Necessary For Recovery
written by izzatzo, January 16, 2011 1:38

See this link on global forces currently sweeping aside the quaint notion that sovereign governments represent "We The People" rather than the other way around, with "We The Corporations Disguised as Persons" as recently confirmed in a reading of the USA Constitution.

For example, consider this quote from the link by a member of the global elite:

“We demand a higher paycheck than the rest of the world,” he told me. “So if you’re going to demand 10 times the paycheck, you need to deliver 10 times the value. It sounds harsh, but maybe people in the middle class need to decide to take a pay cut.”

Exactly. Forget about bribing older workers with accelerated SS to make jobs for younger workers. Everyone must take more cuts so the global elites can maintain a competitive advantage and keep the ship from sinking altogether under Winners-Take-Most Capitalism.

Stupid liberals.
Finally Someone points out Germany
written by Jim, January 16, 2011 2:03
Thank you, Germany has a smart unemployment program. If you have 100 workers working 40 hours a week and business drops 10% in the US we lay off 10 workers who then live in near poverty on Unemployment Insurance as their skills rot. In Germany, they just cut everyone's hours by 10% and the government then subsidizes 60% of the lost income to each worker. Everyone takes a little trim, it costs the government way less and everyone keeps working. Like so much of what we do, the way we approach this has no upside for anyone .... typical. Of course we'll never wise up because if Germany does it this way, that makes it "European" and that makes it (dare I say it) ....Socialism.
Putting 15 Million Back to Work in New Jobs
written by paul, January 16, 2011 3:49
Wouldn't be difficult at all if we had a full employment budget. But since the WaPo wants to go in the opposite direction, naturally it has no suggestions for creating those jobs.
written by PeonInChief, January 16, 2011 6:51
I liked Galbraith's idea. In fact, I think I suggested it myself at one point, and that kind of thing always makes me feel right, and smart too! We might actually want to take the opportunity to get rid of some of our less productive jobs--night clerk at the 7-11, vast armies of security guards etc.
written by PeonInChief, January 16, 2011 6:57
To izzatso:

The servants of the plutocrats have been saying silly things like that for oh, about 30 years. I do notice, however, that they want the US and European legal systems (uh, paid for by the rest of us, and legitimate only because of that) to defend their property and interests.
What are rents and wages anyhow?
written by Ron Alley, January 17, 2011 11:03
Here is an intriguing piece that may shed some light on the issue:

Conventional Wisdom
written by Corey, January 20, 2011 10:00
One would imagine that the "journalists" at the Post have been told at least once in their lives that "conventional wisdom" is a pejorative, along the same lines as "old wives tale": something that has been repeated so often that lots of people believe it, even though it is quite possibly complete bullshit. Then again, printing outright lies is basically their business model.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.